The chronology of September is a bit off, but we also squeezed in a trip up to the northern part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. When you talk to Michiganders, you get many different answers for where to go, as Traverse City, Charlevoix, Petoskey and Harbor Springs are often bandied as the proper place. Ernest Hemmingway’s Nick Adams stories were set in Walloon Lake, and people from Indiana, Ohio and Chicago are all crazy about their favorite haunts as well; and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Connecticut crowds that we have met during our trips up north. The area is beautiful, and slowly, but surely it has also become a “foodie” paradise. The Spring and Summer are for the golfers, campers, and boaters, Autumn is a great time to observe the color change of the leaves, and yes there are some that like the cold Winters for skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. As I said, the area is also becoming a haven for food and wine, because my Bride and I don’t fit into the other categories. We actually went up for business, and we stretched out the trip a bit, because a four-to-five-hour drive is plenty, without having to do it twice in two days.
We were going to Petoskey, which is an historic town and once famed for all of the hotels that were congregated there. They are also famed for the Petoskey stone, which people like to hunt for, on the water fronts and beaches, and it is the State Stone. As soon as we knew the dates for Petoskey, we booked a dinner reservation at Chandler’s, as dinner reservations are now almost mandatory, because there are still all the people that wish to eat, but most of the restaurants have shorter hours and less staff working. We did get into Chandler’s and we requested a table in the wine cellar. Chandler’s is a restaurant that has been cobbled out of the basement and backside of Symons General Store, which is worth a visit on its own merits. We shared a plate, an appetizer of seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras and it came with Cinnamon Brioche, Strawberry Compote and Fresh Basil. A unique combination and the basil and the strawberry was a great touch, the brioche was a bit strong of a flavor, but it all melded together. We had a glass of Maison Sichel Sauternes 2017 from Famille Sichel to pair with the Foie Gras. The Maison Sichel collection is from their negocient side of the business. The wine is a blend of ninety-five percent Semillon and five percent Sauvignon Blanc from vines that are about fifty years of age. The wine is aged for ten to twelve months and they recommend that eight to ten years of cellar time before drinking, and that did not happen here. The wine is very balanced and was rather refreshing, which was excellent for pairing and it had a beautiful nose and color, what one would expect from a Sauternes.
For our dinner entrée selections, my Bride had the Roasted Bay of Fundy Salmon with Refried Black Beans, Pineapple-Red Pepper Salsa and a Mango Lime Emulsion. I went with the Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast with Crispy Spätzle, Broccoli, Bacon, Mushrooms and a Sweet and Sour Pomegranate Glaze. We had a bottle of Joseph Drouhin Chorey-Les-Beaune 2018, as I adore Pinot Noir with duck and my Bride prefers a softer Red with Salmon. Joseph Drouhin was founded in 1880 in Beaune and over the years they have expanded to owning vineyards as well as a negocient and they produce wines from village-level cuvees to Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines with both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Chorey-Les- Beaune is about one-hundred-twenty-five hectares of predominately Pinot Noir vines, but the appellation also allows for some Chardonnay as well. The land is all at the base of the escarpment and hence there is no Premier Cru vineyards, though part of it, though it is very close to the slopes of Corton. Even though it has an appellation, most of the wine is offered under the Cote de Beaune-Villages appellation. The grapes are hand harvested, and the maceration and fermentation take about three weeks with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged for about fifteen months, with ten percent new oak. They clarify and evaluate each barrel, choosing some for the appellation and others for a broader appellation. It was a very nice soft Burgundy wine, with a nose of blackberries, and the blackberries are there on the palate as well, with a nice medium count finish. I am sure that with a few more years in the cellar, the wine would pick up some secondary layers, that aged Burgundy wines excel at. Our trip in Petoskey was looking very nice.