Monday, June 20, 2011

Northern Michigan Tasties Part I: Wine

For the first time ever I missed an update! I'm so sorry! But I was staying at a cabin in Glen Arbor, MI, with barely a trickle of internet. I know it's not the best excuse, but it's all I have. And now I get to tell you about all the tasty treats to be found Up North!

Glen Arbor is a little township located in Leelenau county, a place that is mostly known for its beautiful lakes, cherries, wine, and Sleeping Bear Dunes. According to Wikipedia, Glen Lake “is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.” (It really is very pretty; the water is so clean and blue!)

The first thing we did after I joined my mother at the cabin was drive out to Old Mission Peninsula and go wine tasting. The two wineries we chose were Chateau Chantal and Chateau Grand Traverse, both gorgeous. Michigan wines are, due to the nature of the soil, far less dry than California wines. I am not terribly fond of California wines, though Paso Robles has some nice offerings, because of this, and I very nearly despise French wines, which I liken to licking sand.

But I digress. The two wine grapes that are most plentiful in Michigan are chardonnay (ick) and riesling (yum!). (Read more about Michigan grapes here.) At Chateau Chantal, I skipped right over the dry whites, dry reds, and fresh reds, diving right into the semi-dry wines, beginning my journey with a sparkling wine called Celebrate! (exclamation point included in the name). I would compare Celebrate! to Italy's Prosecco, though it is semi-dry rather than brut, extra dry, or dry, the labels for Prosecco.

I also tried a semi-dry red called Twilight that was delightful and somewhat fruity, the Select Harvest Gewurztraminer, another common Michigan wine that never disappoints, and the Late Harvest Riesling. The latter two are described as “sweet” and “luscious” on my tasting sheet, and I have to agree, though “luscious” is not a word I would apply to wine myself. Definitely sweet, and both would make excellent dessert wines.

This being Northern Michigan, I had to try their cherry wine, and enjoyed it so much that I purchased a bottle. The Traverse Bay region is known the world over for its tart cherries, but this wine was neither tart nor too sweet. It honestly tasted like biting into a fresh cherry.

Over at Chateau Grand Traverse, I mostly stuck to the plentiful rieslings and gewurz, but I did start off with the Pinot Noir Vin Gris because it intrigued me. It also did not disappoint. Naturally, I had to try one of their cherry wines, as well, and I chose the Cherry Wine Sangria, again for the intrigue factor. The spiciness was a bit concentrated, thus the girl at the counter recommended cutting it with something like club soda and adding many large chunks of fruit, which I hope we will be doing next weekend as I talked my mother into buying a bottle.

I realize this isn't the most comprehensive review of Northern Michigan wines, but hopefully I have piqued someone's interest, or at the very least alerted you to the existence of delicious Michigan wines. Wines that are, sadly, largely unavailable outside their growing regions. But if you should find yourself in Michigan, and you enjoy inexpensive, often free, wine tastings, I suggest you head up to Mission Point! I believe you will not be disappointed.

Upcoming blog topics: the best root beers I've ever tried, and local ice cream comparisons.

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