I believe in happenstance, and I have always believed in Detroit, the city that I was born in, and I tend to mention that often. In one of my other lives when I am not The Wine Raconteur, is the time that I spend working. I had the chance to meet a fellow who was the General Manager of a new restaurant and wine bar called Vertical Detroit. Now I like to keep abreast of no ventures, especially when it involves wine or food in my area. I was intrigued, because up to that point I had not heard or read about Vertical Detroit. When I looked at the address, it did not even ring a bell, and I spent many years in the downtown area during my student years.
I had a general idea where the restaurant was, but the name of the apartment building that it was in, also did not ring the bell. The Ashley back in my day was the Milner Hotel and it was in the Harmonie Park district of downtown, near the Opera House, the Detroit Athletic Club, Ford Field and Comerica Park. I had anticipated a rather quiet evening as we were going out on January the second, as New Year’s Eve is not a big night for us, in fact we tend to avoid dining out on any of the “big” nights for restaurants. We were surprised to see the activity when we got there, and as the night progressed, there were more and more people coming in. The entrance to Vertical Detroit was off the lobby of The Ashley and as we were taken to our table we passed a very long table that was for wine tastings, and one of the offerings that the restaurant is touting is vertical vintage tastings of assorted wines. The owner of the restaurant has had a long career as a wine merchant, and as we walked past the tasting area I quickly scanned many bottles of wine that I recognized either by name and even better by having enjoyed earlier vintages.
Since Vertical Detroit prided itself on wines, they had an ample list of wines by the glass, so that is how we were going to proceed for the evening. Though I did take my time to study the entire wine list by bottles as well, and saw many wines that I had anticipated, as well as some of the famous “second” wines from many chateaus and wineries, and this was cause already for thoughts of some return visits. We started off our meal by having some Smoked Salmon with Crème Fraiche, crispy capers and baguettes. The salmon is smoked in house, and it was lightly smoked compared to some of the heavy smoked preparations that one normally finds. Suffice it to say that my Bride was thrilled with the choice as she told me repeatedly how much she enjoyed the dish. We decided on some lighter white wines to accompany this dish. My Bride chose Alois Lageder Dolomiti Pinot Grigio 2014 from Trentino, in the Alto Adige or Sud-Tirol region of Italy. This was a very crisp and light wine that was aged in Stainless Steel and I thought it was a fine choice by her for the salmon. I went with a glass of Domaine Daulny Sancerre Le Clos de Chaudenay 2013. This was a single vineyard cuvee made from Sauvignon Blanc in the Upper Loire district of France and it was also aged in Stainless Steel. This area of the Loire was once more noted for their red wines until the time of the Phylloxera damages, and now it is predominately planted with white varietals. There is just so much more to discuss about the dinner and Vertical Detroit, that I will resume the meal, I think into two more articles.