Valle D’Aosta

Aosta Valley or VDA is the northernmost Alpine wine region of Italy and I was tasting some of these wines at my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source.  The valley is Italy’s smallest and least populous region and abuts France and Switzerland, and French is the official second language of the region.  Even though this area is small, and very hardy, they produce both red and white wines, and the most important red is the Picotendro, the local version of Nebbiolo.  While the Valle D’Aosta DOC contains no DOCG, there are some subzones in the region.  These wines are very popular domestically from the large tourist trade of the region, and hence there is very little that is actually imported, so it is not a common designation.

The first wine that I tried was Fuedo di San Maurizio Petite Arvine Valle D’Aosta DOC 2020.  I found very little about this winery though they do offer wines also made from Petit Verdot, Petit Rouge, Fumin, Humagne Rouge, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Vuillermin.  Petite Arvine also known as Arvine is a variety that is basically found in Valais, Switzerland and Valle D’Aosta, Italy and has been recorded for the last five-hundred-years, but the origin has not been determined. A late ripening grape that requires sunny sites and dry soil, not two requirements that one would immediately think of for the Alpine region.   This wine had a grapefruit nose, and it was a big and sassy acidic palate with a saline (salty) finish and I just thought of fresh-water fish as the pairing for this wine.

The second wine that I had was Fuedo di San Maurizio Fumin Valle D’Aosta 2019.  The same winery, but using the indigenous variety of the valley, namely the Fumin grape, which is a red grape.  For years this grape was blended with other grapes for its deep purple-red color and was only recently brought back to prominence because of a few local winemakers.  It is the perfect variety for the region, as it is not fussy, buds late, ripens early and doesn’t require as much sun as some of the other local grapes may require. The wine was rather earthy with notes of dark fruits and spices for the nose, while the palate was more blackberry and high acidity and a medium finish.

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wine Club October 2021

I had to get to my local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source of Livonia, to pick up the new wine club selections.  Actually, I think this is the first time that I went on the same day, that I got the notification.  It has been rather hectic here, but more about that at a later date.  Suffice it to say, that I had to maintain my sanity and the ability to communicate with humans and no, we are not under draconian lockdowns again.  This is self-imposed and eventually an article or two may arise from this.  As for now, I will stop rambling and discuss the two wines, one Old World and one New World.

The first wine, which represents the Old World is Chateau Bourdieu Blay Cotes de Bordeaux 2019.  The story goes that Luc Schweitzer used to pass by this property on his way to his boarding school and the property goes back to 1464.  Eventually he followed in his parent’s footsteps and became a winegrower and he bought this property in 1993 and has worked to add and expand the estate to where it is now one-hundred-eighty-five acres.  The winery is run as a sustainable agriculture vineyard with modern methods of farming and no reliance on chemicals. When I was in my teens, they use to joke that in music one often hears of the three B’s, off to the side of Bordeaux is another set of three B’s. The Cotes de Bourg, the Cotes de Blaye and Bergerac are productive wine districts on the wrong side of the Gironde (which encompasses Bordeaux).  These two areas were producing wines before the Medoc was even planted.  They are classic made wines known as Claret.  They unfortunately have been totally eclipsed by the Medoc and even the Bordeaux wines.  The Cotes de Bordeaux appellation was created in 2009, to put all the “cotes” under one banner; Blaye, Cadillac, Castillon and Francs.  The wine is a blend of eighty-seven percent Merlot, ten percent Cabernet Sauvignon and three percent Cabernet Franc with vines averaging thirty-five-years in age, and aged in Stainless Steel.  The wine is described as a beautiful ruby red, with a nose of red fruits and black currants, with integrated tannins and a nice long finish.

The New World is represented by TRIM Wines Cabernet Sauvignon California 2018.  TRIM Project was started by Ray Signorello in 2011.  His concept was two wines, one focus and zero distractions by creating a single Cabernet and a single Chardonnay.  A total trimmed down approach to winemaking.  The wine is eighty-seven percent Cabernet Sauvignon with seven percent Malbec and six percent Petite Sirah.  The notes for this wine list a nose of dark cherry, pipe tobacco and grilled herbs, a balanced and medium weight wine with notes of cranberry, pomegranate, mulberry and herbs with a long finish.  Sounds perfect for a burger.   

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Steve & Rocky’s

My Bride and I decided to go to Steve & Rocky’s, and it may sound like one of our watering holes called Rocky’s, well you are half right.  The restaurant is a merger of two old school restaurants of fame in the Detroit dining history.  Charles “Chuck” “Rocky” Rachwitz worked for the C.A. Muer Restaurant Corporation for eighteen years and many of those original restaurants are still standing and existing, even with the untimely death of Chuck Muer. Rocky was the Corporate Executive Chef for the Muer organization, and prior to the death of Muer, Rocky took over the old Northville Charley’s and made it Rocky’s.  Steve Allen trained under and worked for Chef Milos Cihelka at the old Golden Mushroom and later became the Executive Chef for five years, after Chef Milo’s retirement.  Eventually the two sat down and created a joint venture that is still going strong still, since January 1998.      

The menu had too many choices for us, and it was a very tough decision, as they were just some of the great classic entrées that have stood the test of time.  My Bride had the Tasting of Three Soups; Shrimp Provencal, Gazpacho and Chef Milos’ Mushroom (the first time that we went to the Golden Mushroom, is when we began dating, as this was one of her favorite restaurants, and she still talks about it.  She then had a salad of Heirloom Tomatoes and Burrata, spring greens, shaved red onion and Basil Vinaigrette along with Grilled Atlantic Salmon.  She was enjoying Chateau Miraval “Studio by Miraval” Mediterranée IGP 2020.  Chateau Miraval, once housed a recording studio used by Pink Floyd and by Sting, who named the Chateau.  It is probably more famous because of the movie stars that own it, in a partnership with the Perrin family.  The estate is a five-hundred-hectare property with olive groves and vineyards.  They offer four wines, their flagship Chateau Miraval, two white wines made from Rolle and this wine that used to carry the Vin de France designation, and now has the more modern IGP appellation which covers a large swath of land, and really no hard and fast rules for wine production.  The two principal grapes used by the Chateau is Grenache and Cinsaut, and there is no breakdown or trade notes.  I will say that it probably is aged for a couple of months in Stainless Steel, as the wine was very floral, crisp with intense red fruit and a nice flinty finish.  It also paired very well with the tomatoes, which can be tricky.  

I was very hard pressed to decide to on an entrée, but I went with one, that I haven’t had in a while.  I started off with a bowl of the Shrimp Provencal soup.  I then had St. Louis Barbecue Ribs with a Traverse City cherry and coffee glaze, Redskin mashed potatoes and Street Corn off the Cob.  The ribs fell off of the bones, and the street corn had a zest that was enjoyable.  I went with Chateau Lassegue “Les Cadrans de Lassegue” Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2016.  The winery goes back to the 17th Century, but the big modern news is that it was bought by Jess Jackson and Barbara Bank in 2003 and part of the Jackson Family’s Spire Collection.  The estate is twenty-four hectares planted with sixty percent Merlot, thirty-five percent Cabernet Franc and five percent Cabernet Sauvignon.  The vines are from forty to fifty-five years in age on a soil of chalk, clay and limestone. The wine I had is the second label of the winery and is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, aged probably close to a year in French Oak, of which about thirty-five percent is new.  Of course, I have a long bias towards Saint-Emilion Grand Cru wines, since high school and this wine made me totally happy.  The beautiful nose of dark red fruits, with beautiful notes from the Cabernet Franc and a nice terroir driven finish.  It was a delightful dinner. 

Posted in Dining, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

R + R Howell Mountain and a Zin

It was getting quite animated at The Fine Wine Source with Roger Louer representing and pouring his Roberts + Rogers wines.  I am sure that he was looking forward to his trip back to California, as he was being entertained since the past weekend when everyone got together at Lambeau Field.  All that wining and dining eventually catches up, even with the best of us, but I am sure that it was a great week, no matter what.  I am not sure, if the actual time intervals were working, as it was a room where everyone was having a good time.  My Bride was definitely enjoying herself, and that could be dangerous, but the good news is, that I won’t have to hear that I went overboard.  Though I did have to remind her that we had to buy some wine for The Caller as well.  Once a personal shopper, always a personal shopper.

The last of the Cabs that we tasted was the Roberts + Rogers Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain 2018.  Howell Mountain is one of the most prestigious sub appellations of Napa Valley.  To give you an idea of how important it is, the Napa Valley appellation was awarded in 1981 (and only the second appellation in the country) and the first sub-appellation was Howell Mountain in 1984.  While there is no Howell Mountain peak, the name is derived from Howell Mountain Township which sits above the fog line of 1,400 feet above sea level, and to have the designation, the vineyards must also be above this mark on the Vaca mountain range.  The soil is volcanic, and most of it is iron-rich clay.  This wine was aged for two years in new French Oak.  My words cannot do justice, as I am always tongue tied with Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon wines, as they are always the best examples of what this varietal can achieve.  A true expression of a California Cab.

The last wine that we had at the tasting was almost déjà vu, because I had a sneak peak of the Roberts + Rogers Zinfandel, Napa Valley 2014.  We ended the tasting with a Roberts + Rogers Zinfandel, Old Vine, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Creek 2018.  Dry Creek Valley AVA is in Sonoma County and is considered one of the best terroirs in California for Zinfandel.  Dry Creek Valley is about sixteen miles long and the valley floor has a cooler climate compared to the hillsides.  This wine was aged for eighteen months in French Oak.  This was another Zinfandel that really made me happy, as it was not a big jammy wine, I thought it was almost elegant, with that nice spiciness and a chewy wine with a delightful finish.  A delightful way to spend an hour or so, in the afternoon, and I am glad that they load the car for you, with the cases.      

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

R + R Louer Family and Louer Signature

It was truly a wonderful day at my local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan. Roger Louer was holding court and regaling all the customers about the wines, Napa Valley and being a “Gentleman Farmer,” which are my words and not his.  He had actually flown in to see a game at Lambeau Field and he had met his children and their families, and the family of the wine shop and everyone had a wonderful time in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Then he came to the Detroit area and was wined and dined while he was in town.  I am sure that he had a fine respite from his normal routine at the winery.

At the tasting, the first Cabernet Sauvignon was the Roberts + Rogers Louer Family Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena 2017.  Originally this wine was made from his personal estate for a select group of friends from his thirty-four-acre estate and was introduced in 2009, and it sold out that year and the next couple of years without any fanfare. In 2012, it was released under the Roberts + Rogers designation and I have had the good fortune to have had the 2014, 2015 and the 2016 vintage and some are in the cellar.  The wine is aged for two years in new French Oak.  This wine great, poured right from the bottle, which is how plenty of people will enjoy this wine, without any real additional cellaring.  This was a beautiful Cabernet hitting all of the right sensory buttons of dark fruit, spices and terroir.  In ten to twenty years, I am sure that it will be the perfect mellow Cab, that I enjoy, but in my retirement, we will probably drink it sooner.  I might add, that this is probably one of the most affordable and great values from St. Helena and all of Napa Valley.  

We then tried the Roberts + Rogers Louer Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena 2016.  It was nice listening to him explain, in a kind of Jimmy Stewart demeanor that his winemaker said that he needed a “signature” wine.  The first for this label.  This wine was also aged for two years in new French Oak, but only the best barrels and a very limited production.  This wine was also a beautiful Cabernet, even bigger and bolder and more savory compared to the Louer Family Cabernet.  Price-wise, it is not the bargain that the Louer Family is, but it really was an impressive wine. 

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

R + R Chardonnay and Napa 5

It was a pleasure to be in my local wine shop, the Fine Wine Source of Livonia, Michigan, with all of the activity and customers coming to see Roger Louer and to taste his wines.  The Roberts + Rogers wines were an amazing pull, and even though we were supposed to have booked a certain time frame, so as not to incur the wrath of the sycophants, it was like we were at a televised Awards show, and masks were not required and no one was as close to the next person as they were photographed at the awards show.  The response was great and the wine people and the customers were all having a grand time.  Just like in the old days.  Maybe wine is the secret.

We started off the tasting with a Roberts + Rogers Reserve Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2018.  A great way to start as this wine was aged for almost twelve months.  Sixty percent of the juice was aged in French Oak and forty percent was aged in Stainless Steel and then the two juices were blended and then finally bottled.  It was a stellar example of a California Chardonnay, that would probably fool people in a blind taste test.  It was crisp and buttery and very smooth, with some floral notes and a nice finish that evoked another taste. 

We then had the Roberts + Rogers “Napa 5” Cabernet Sauvignon NV.  The wine came from five different vineyards, all from the rockiest part of the Louer Vineyard.  It is non-Vintage, as it is blended from a couple of vintages and very proprietary for a Cabernet Sauvignon wine.  Hand harvested from the loamy terrain, the wine was aged for a total of eighteen months in French Oak and the initial release was June 2018.  There were three hundred cases produced and all were done with a screw cap.  This was a beautiful red, fruit forward with plenty of deep red fruit and a surprisingly long finish with a lot of terroirs.  They felt that a screw cap was the perfect way to offer this casual wine that could be drank immediately or it could be cellared.  The rave reviews for these two wines from the other tasters, was enough to make sure that our order was filled with these two for sure, somehow, we can always squeeze some more room for a couple more cases of wine.   

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Harbinger for Roberts + Rogers

I guess it may appear that I spend my entire life at my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, but that is really not the case.  What happens is that there are times when I have the good fortune to taste many wines and I may only write about one or two wines for each article, since I try to publish every other day.  If, I showed up there, too often, they might bar me, from the premises. One of the last wines that I had during one of the tastings there, was Roberts + Rogers Zinfandel Napa Valley 2014.  This was an advance tasting for me, for their first event wine tasting for almost two years, when Roger Louer returns to the shop to offer tastings and to talk about the wines.  I have had the good fortune to have enjoyed an earlier tasting of the wines as well, and to have cellared some, and I think they may still be down there. 

To give a brief summary of this winery that is based in St. Helena, so that I won’t have to mention as much background information in the next couple of articles about the wine.  St. Helena s subregion of Napa Valley that received its AVA in 1995, is historic for its red wines, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, but also some excellent Merlot.  The town and the district are named after Mount Saint Helena and there are nine-thousand acres of densely packed vineyards including Berringer (one of the oldest continuously operating California winery) and Charles Krug (who is often credited as the “father of Napa Valley.” It is one of the warmest appellations in Napa and it has also produced some excellent Zinfandel and some very interesting Sauvignon Blanc.  Longtime friends Roger Louer and Robert Young decided in 1999 to create a “first-class” Cabernet Sauvignon wine brand with fruit from Howell Mountain from a vineyard jointly developed by the two men.  The first vintage was in 2004, and released in 2007 was for three-hundred cases.  The original and still current winemaker Barry Gnekow described the first vintage as “this wine is so big it will be coming into its own in about thirty years, but is drinkable now.” In 2009, Roger Louer produced the Louer Family Reserve Cabernet from his personal estate and sourced from the areas of his thirty-four-acre estate.  It was released for the first vintage under the Roberts + Rogers Winery label in 2012.

Which all brings me back to the Roberts + Rogers Zinfandel, Napa Valley 2014.  The Fine Wine Source only had a couple of bottles left of this vintage, so they were offering it to some of their regulars, that were making appointments for the tastings, as this wine would particular wine would not be part of the upcoming tasting.  Roger Louer would be best described as a Gentleman Farmer and not a Napa Valley celebrity, as he is a quiet understated man.  This may be the last Zinfandel, that was produced in Napa Valley, as they now offer a Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel from Sonoma County.  This 2014 Zinfandel was aged for eighteen months in French Oak.  Over the years, I have mentioned that I was never a Zinfandel fan, because of the old “Dago Red” that I drank as a child, but I have slowly changed my position.  This was probably the finest Zinfandel wine that I have had.  Definitely not a California “jam-bomb” or a brooding Primitivo.  This was elegant and almost ethereal, with whispers of fruit, floral notes and a delightful long chewy finish.  It made me look forward to the big event.  

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Beacon Bistro

Getting a restaurant reservation in Petoskey on the last minute, was as difficult, as our governor’s husband trying to get his boat in the water during the lockdown.  We were put on numbered lists for potential call backs.  Even the vacation hot spots are having trouble getting help, as you notice everywhere that there are “help wanted” signs all over the place.  Unemployment numbers are up, and jobs are everywhere, I can’t understand it, I am glad that I am retired.  When we were at Boyne Valley Vineyards, we were talking about our current problem, and they touted it us on a new restaurant in downtown Petoskey, that was only open a couple of months.  Here we were, doing our “senior” thing trying to accumulate ten-thousand steps, the latest trend and we were walking all over downtown Petoskey doing the tourist thing and also shopping, our Christmas shopping is just about all done as well as the birthdays for the rest of the year.  I veered off on another tangent.  We got back to the hotel, and tried calling for a reservation, but it was too early.  I am old fashioned, and I like to call for reservations and talk to someone, I just like to talk.

We looked up Beacon Bistro on our phone, and it was a three-minute walk, down a street, that we thought was residential and at the end of the cul-de-sac was the restaurant.  We knocked on the door, explained our situation, and in a couple of minutes, they brought us into the restaurant a little early and gave us a spectacular table.  The restaurant appears to be a home that has been converted, and the entire front porch appears to have been extended to overlook the lake, and the highway below.  We immediately thought about ordering some food, so as not to tie up a table, and our waiter was excellent.  I think they were still having instructions on the menu selections for the night.  We started out with an order of Spanish Garlic Shrimp, that were smoked with Paprika and served with crostini.  Our waiter came back, and we were still the only people there and he said that the entrée specials were still being worked out, so we ordered a Smoked Whitefish Spread that was served with crackers and cucumber slices.  It was delicious and was from John Cross Fisheries in Charlevoix and guess where we went shopping the next morning.

We also ordered a bottle of wine and I found something interesting and something to make my Bride smile.  We had a bottle of Cantina Lavis Dipinti Pinot Grigio Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT 2019.  Cantina Lavis is a cooperative representing the municipalities of Lavis, Giovo and Meano that was formed in 1948, originally with fourteen independent winemakers and it has grown since then; and it can trace its origins to 1850. Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT was introduced in 1997 for the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Alpine Italy, and named after the Dolomite Mountains.  It covers red, white and rosé, still, sparkling, dry or sweet wines.  The grapes are handpicked, soft-pressed and aged on the lees for about eight months in Stainless Steel.  A pretty soft golden wine with a nose of florals and ripe fruit, that offers pears, flowers, a dash of honey and soft tannins in a nice dry wine.  My Bride had Sushi-grade Tuna Poke with edamame, cucumbers, pineapple, wakame, pickled jalapenos, sesame seeds and coconut rice.  I was going to have fish, until I heard that they were having Duck Confit, and a thigh and a leg, with a tangy sauce and succotash.  We were both in heaven, and we needed an extended walk back to our hotel. As we were leaving, the restaurant was filling up very nicely and it is good that we got there very early.   We will be back. 

Posted in Dining, Wine | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Boyne Valley Vineyards

We went to another new winery while we were up in Petoskey, and the winery was Boyne Valley Vineyards.  I mean they are really a new winery, because by the time this article is published, it will be before their Second Anniversary.  Now, if you are thinking that I am pulling a fast one on you, let me explain that I have mentioned Boyne before.  There is a Boyne, Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain and Boyne Falls in Michigan and while I have mentioned a couple, we have not been to them all. The winery backs up to a scenic one-hundred-thirteen-acre nature preserve. They have a beautiful tasting room, but they offer wine tastings, except on Friday afternoons and Saturday, where their wine and cider are only offered by the glass. Perhaps this is done to curtail the roving bus-loads of bachelor and bachelorette parts and group tours that at times seem to arrive en masse. They also have music concerts on the grounds, as they have a patio, lawn and a treehouse, we forgot to checkout the treehouse (a long story on its own).  Another nice feature is that they offer a few plates of assorted noshes to accompany the tastings or the concerts, or if you just want to sit out with a glass of wine on the patio and enjoy the day.

We did enjoy a wine tasting and by happenchance, we had our tasting with the owner and she was enjoyable to be with. We started the tasting with the Boyne Valley Vineyards Cayuga White Michigan AVA 2020.  Cayuga is a French-American hybrid that is a Cold-Hardy variety.  A crossing of Schuyler and Seyval Blanc back in 1945, but not released commercially until 1972; first developed on the shores of Seneca Lake in New York, but was named after the nearby Cayuga Lake. The wine was aged for eight months in plastic vats.  It was a nice soft yellow, with a nose of green melons and some foxiness, and on the palate, it was slightly sweet with a tinge of lemon zest and light acidity.  We then had La Crescent Michigan AVA 2020.  La Crescent is another hybrid developed by the University of Minnesota and released in 2002 and is another Cold-Hardy variety.  The wine was aged for eight months in plastic vats.  This wine offered notes of stone fruits, pineapple and lemon zest in an off-dry wine with some acidity.  The third white wine was “Snow Cat White” Briana Michigan AVA 2020. Brianna is another relatively new hybrid developed in Wisconsin in 1983.  Initially it was grown as a table grape, but has had success as a Cold-Hardy variety in several of the Upper-Midwest States.  The wine was aged for eight months in plastic vats.  A pretty wine that offered notes of honeysuckle, and tropical citrus fruits.

We enjoyed two red wines while we were at the winery.  The first was Boyne Valley Vineyards Hodgepodge Red Wine Michigan AVA 2018.  This wine is a blend of Petite Perle, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Marquette, Shiraz and Merlot; these varietals were from three different Michigan AVA regions, The Tip of the Mitt AVA, Traverse CityAVA and Lake Michigan Shore AVA.  The wine was aged for two years in oak. An interesting wine that offered notes of blackberry and plum, with light tannins and a medium finish.  The final wine of the tasting was their Estate Marquette The Tip of the Mitt AVA 2020 and was aged for three months in oak. This wine offered notes of Black Cherry, Currants and Blackberries with a medium body and a medium finish.  We had an enjoyable visit and they helped us decide on our last dinner while in the Petoskey area. 

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spare Key Winery

While we were up north in Michigan, I had to get some free time to visit a few wineries, after all Michigan is in the top ten for production of wine in the country.  We decided to visit some new wineries, instead of revisiting some past locations.  I think of new wineries as dreams that have come to fruition for individuals.  I am not talking about Rock stars, or movie stars that can just buy into an existing winery or to let them expand.  I am talking about people that want to make wine and have to start somehow.  The average person might be able to pay for a tasting in Napa Valley, but the average person could not buy a vineyard or a winery there.  In Michigan, it is doable and affordable, especially if you can keep your day job, until the dream starts coming into shape.

Spare Key Winery in Charlevoix, the next resort town over from Petoskey and part of the Petoskey Wine Region is where we visited first.  The family is a Seventh generation of Michigan farmers.  The winery views family and friends as the Key to the winery.  In 2011, they planted four-hundred vines with their family and friends, who also helped with additional planting, trimming and harvesting. Each successive year they have planted more and expanded.  We started with the Spare Key Winery Elvira 2017 which spent    nine months in Stainless Steel.  Elvira is an American hybrid known for its high yield and can be grown as a table grape or for commercial wineries.  It is one of the “Cold-Hardy” grapes and is believed to be developed in the Nineteenth Century Missouri. The wine offered some notes of ripe fruit and foxiness, with an agreeable crisp and balanced acidic wine with a finish that was on the oily side to me.

We then tried some red wines.  I will also mention that all the Spare Key Winery wines have the new Tip of the Mitt AVA (because the lower peninsula of Michigan looks like a hand or a mitten) and they are one of the few wineries that can claim Estate Grown and Estate Bottled.  As they are still very young and starting out, all of the red wines were aged in plastic vats, which I have observed over the years in our travels.  We started with the Spare Key Winery Frontenac 2017 which spent seven days on the lees and one year aging.  Frontenac is a hybrid French-American Cold-Hardy variety developed in 1978 at the University of Minnesota and released in 1996. The wine offered some dark fruit and pepper and it was on the tart side.  We then had the Marquette 2017 which was also aged for one year in plastic.  Marquette was created in 1989 and released in 2006 also by the University of Minnesota and is another French-American Cold-Hardy hybrid.  The wine offered dark fruits and pepper and easy drinking.  We then tried the Frontenac/Marquette 2017 and this was the most enjoyable of the four wines that we tried.  It was much fuller than the two as separate wines with nice tannins and very mellow and a nice medium finish.  Afterwards our server, reached under the counter and poured us a taste of the Marquette 2018 and it offered nice dark fruit, well balanced and a nice finish.  What a difference a year makes, and I think we got to taste it, because of my taking notes and photos, but it was delightful.   

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment