What can I say about a stellar evening of food and wine at a wine-centric restaurant like Vertical in Detroit? Since Vertical is owned by the people that own my local wine shop and wine club The Fine Wine Source, we were actually counting the days to when they could open again. It is always great to support local businesses, as a former retailer, I have always supported this concept, even before it was in vogue. I just enjoy going out for dinner, as fine of a cook as my Bride is, she needs to let someone else cook for her as well. We normally don’t have dessert any more, but we were also buying some time, in hopes that we would see the owner show up, as we had been talking to his daughter that spends her time at the restaurant. Instead of our usual Crème Brulee we opted to have something a bit interesting, so we had a Basil Cake with house-made Strawberry Ice Cream and these ethereal wispy meringue wafers, just a touch of sweetness and calling for a couple of dessert wines. We split the cake and the wines and we had our own cups of coffee.
We started with a glass of The Rare Wine Company Historic Series Madeira New York Malmsey Special Reserve NV made by Barbeito in Madeira, Portugal. It may be one of the longest names for a wine and it is a classic caramel-based wine that can possibly live forever, even after opening with just a classic cork as a stopper. The Rare Wine Company was and is the pre-eminent source of Vintage Madeira from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries and in 1998 they began working with Vinhos Barbeito to create a series of Madeira wines with the proper blending of wines from ten to sixty years. The use of different cities with old engravings on the labels tie the historical connection of America to Madeira, as the Old South preferred dry, the North preferred the sweeter Madeira like the Boston Bual and the New York Malmsey. Malmsey is a fortified wine made from a group of varieties of the Malvasia grapes under the rules of Portugal’s Madeira DOC. Malmsey is the sweetest and richest example of Madeira and contains more than twice the residual sugar of a Madeira Sercial or Madeira Verdelho. The name Malmsey is probably a bastardization or a second corruption, in nicer terms, of mariners trying to pronounce the Portuguese name. This was a beautiful dessert wine that was sweet, but not cloying and very balanced. With a nose of figs and dates and a touch of orange peel, the wine was very rich, with notes of fruit and a nice long count finish.
The other dessert wine that we shared was Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel Essence Benito Dusi Ranch 2017, that was quickly sold out and the only other vintages that I have found was from 2003, 2001 and 1986, but this was the first from the Benito Dusi Ranch. Ridge Vineyards is one of the old and famed California wine producers, founded in 1962 and based in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but they also have vineyards in other parts of the state. They are famed for their Cabernet Sauvignon based “Bordeaux” blends, as well as their Zinfandels, Petite Sirah, Carignan, Grenache-Mataro blend and a Chardonnay. The Benito Dusi Ranch is three miles south of Paso Robles and the only vineyard for Ridge in the Central Coast. The ranch is twenty-five acres of Zinfandel planted in 1922. The grapes for this wine were picked at extreme ripeness, the free-run juice was fermented quickly, and then the press wine with the increased sugar content was added back and it naturally stopped fermentation. The fruit was hand-harvested, destemmed and crushed, using only native yeasts. The juice was aged for eleven months in air-dried American Oak, of which sixty percent was new. There were fourteen and a half barrels produced of this wine. On the average, this type of wine occurs maybe once every five years. The wine was a deep garnet, with a nose of dried cherries, plums and spices. The taste was opulent with black cherries, terroir and a lively-fresh acidity that finished with a very long count finish that just totally impressed this old jaded wine drinker, and my Bride was very excited by it, as well. Our dinner experience at Vertical was wonderful and we look forward to the next time.