I was home having dinner alone, because my Bride and all her relatives actually participated in a Bridal Shower and from all reports, everyone enjoyed being a scofflaw and defying our harridan’s around the corner fiats; the women actually felt like a part of their life had been returned though they were technically all illegal, as if they were undocumented aliens. The door bell rang and I went to see more out of curiosity, anticipating some door-to-door remodeling salesman and instead it was another parcel delivery driver, who graciously signed the pad that he was lugging as well as a carton of wine that he was carrying. It was a parcel of four wines from our wine club at Black Star Farms in Michigan. Black Star Farms is rather unique in that it has vineyards and tasting room facilities on both peninsulas, so that they are kind of surrounding Traverse City which is kind of the focal point for all of the wineries in the area. In 1998 Black Star Farms purchased Sport Valley Farm which was a one-hundred-twenty-acre equestrian facility, and the stylized black star was part of the architectural décor in the main house. In their Twentieth year, they were honored to receive the 19’th Annual Canberra International Riesling Challenge (CIRC) -Best Wine of the 2018 Challenge and only the second time an American wine came out on top. There were 567 Rieslings from six countries (Australian, New Zealand, USA, Germany, France and the Czech Republic). The Black Star Farms Arcturos Dry Riesling 2017 scored 98 points, in addition to taking home Best Dry Riesling and Best American Riesling. In fact, all six of the Riesling wines that Black Star Farms submitted took home medals, showing a consistency across vintages and styles. The fruit is sourced from both of the proprietor’s vineyards and from local grower partners in both the Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula. The winery has three series; the premium Arcturos, A Capella and the Leorie Vineyard labels for sparkling and fruit wines.
It was actually interesting to read the newsletter from the Winemaker about what is going on since the State Health Department (formerly governor’s fiats) and how they are dealing with the one-year anniversary (my editorial insertion) of the fifteen day flatten the curve that we have suffered in Michigan. They have been able to have indoor tastings since the beginning of February, but at twenty-five percent capacity. Of course, everyone must be wearing at least one mask, unless the patron is sitting at a designated area for tasting, and then the mask can be removed. All areas will be disinfected after every use, and the winery went and installed a UV filtration system in their central air system to safely and effectively purify the air in the tasting rooms. “On a lighter note, this past year may have been challenging for humanity, but our vineyards were blessed with a phenomenal growing season: in other words – 2020 was a good year for grapes!”
The Black Star Farms “Arcturos” Gruner Veltliner Old Mission Peninsula AVA 2018 was the first wine to come out of the carton. This is their second release of this famed Austrian variety. Though it was said, I will venture to opine that this wine was fermented and aged in Stainless Steel and had no residual sugar, so it should finish dry. According to the notes supplied, the wine offers fruit qualities of ripe golden delicious apples, yellow plums and an herbal quality similar to the grassiness one gets from Sauvignon Blanc, with the added notes of white pepper to add to the complexity. The Black Star “Arcturos” Cabernet Franc Michigan 2017 if like past vintages of this wine will be excellent and will keep my Bride very happy. There were no production notes with the newsletter or their website, but from past notes I learned that prior vintages of the Cabernet Franc were aged for ten months in a mix of neutral American and Eastern European Oak barrels. The grapes were estate harvested at two of their best vineyards, but because each vineyard is in a different peninsula and hence a different AVA, the wine carries a Michigan AVA. According to the winemaker notes, the wine offers dark fruit aromas and flavors of blackberries, plums, oak and herbal notes in the finish. Their Cabernet Franc was a wine that we enjoyed one evening with dinner at a board meeting at the Inn at Bay Harbor, and that wine plus a Sur Lie Chardonnay that we had earlier during the meeting; gave us the impetus to drive to Traverse City to buy the wines, plus we ended up joining their wine club as well.