I have a guest author today, who happens to be writing about an event that through Social Media I discovered that both he and his charming Bride were only a few miles away from where my Bride and I were that same evening. He has written two other articles here and of course I totally endorse his nom de plume.
A Birthday Party for One of My Mentors
The Wine Raconteur, Jr.
As a grateful guest contributor to the chronicles of the Wine Raconteur, I strive to find my most memorable moments to ensure they warrant inclusion in the blog of my close friend and wine mentor. One such occasion was the recent birthday of a mutual acquaintance; whose family also appreciates wine. This man has been with me since my college days, although he is 10 years my senior. He has blessed me with many glimpses into the future, a familial ‘crystal ball’ if you will. Since he married before me, sired his children before me, and has led me in most other life milestones, I’ve benefited from his learning and guidance and I consider him another mentor and good friend.
On the occasion of his recent birthday, his bride arranged for a small gathering at Michigan by the Bottle in Royal Oak, Michigan. This establishment exclusively serves Michigan wines, and they have quite a selection from which you can craft your own tasting flight. I knew the evening would be both entertaining and memorable when our party of 9 had 70 wine glasses on the table for our tastings, along with a few tasty small plates of wine-friendly snacks like almonds, cheeses and charcuterie, olives, and various crackers and breads.
Now the Raconteur knows I’m not the biggest fan of Michigan wines. I often find that Michigan vintners try too hard to do things they should avoid, like attempting to vinify grape varietals to which Michigan weather is very unkind. My long-held opinion is that Michigan needs to respect its climate and terroir and work with what the elements and divine Providence have allowed to flourish here.
My beliefs were vindicated by the two outstanding Michigan wines I had in my tasting flight, and for which I would recommend bottle (if not case) purchases. The first wine that set my palate aflutter was the 2017 Dry Riesling from Verterra Winery in Leland, Michigan. The wine had barely any color to it, and the nose included honeydew and apple among other fruity notes. On the palate, I just kept writing down “balanced”. This was a wine I could drink all afternoon, on its own or with a variety of snacks or small plates. It represents what Michigan does well, and I dare say it was the best wine of the night for me. The second wine surprised me because it was a red, and I tend to be biased against Michigan reds. This time, however, the Bluestone Vineyards 2016 Winemaker’s Red gave me a lot to consider about Michigan’s ability to produce solid red wines. Bluestone is also located in Leland, MI, and this blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah showed a deep burgundy hue, with a nose of grilled meat! It was a huge nose with a lot going on. It boasted a full palate that rounded out the smoky nose and a long finish that would accompany a full “meat and potatoes” dinner nicely.
The evening continued with more wine for dessert (an ice wine and a port-style cherry wine), birthday torte, and live music from a local guitarist’s trio that played many standards from the Great American Songbook and did a great job engaging the crowd in the intimate venue. My friend’s birthday was a total home run, and when I posted my exploits on social media, I drew the Raconteur’s attention and that’s how I knew that this memorable night warranted an entry (humbly requested, of course) on his blog.
Happy Birthday to my good friend and mentor, and deep thanks to my wine mentor, the Raconteur, for allowing me to share in his love of life and great stories with wine.