That is an expression that I used to hear when I was child. I came to me, this past month, where all of a sudden people were espousing “Dry January.” What is with that? So many businesses have been hurt if not ruined in the last couple of years, and now we have a wave of people that want to put more people out of work. I don’t want to see distilleries, breweries or wineries suffer and not to mention distributors and retailers, because all of a sudden, some new trend appears on social media and everybody thinks that they have to be “cool.” I do everything in moderation, I certainly don’t over drink, and if it wasn’t for the last two years, I hardly ever drank at home, unless we had company. For a while, we couldn’t even go out, unless we were possibly a governor or a big politician and then they were contrite, only because they were caught.
We have not had a “Dry January” as we do most things in moderation. We have some changes coming up, so we have been continuing with dining in. I mean the wines are much more affordable and most have been curated at Casa Raconteur. One night from the cellar we had a bottle of Bel Lago Vineyard and Winery Tempesta Michigan 2013, the flagship of the winery, when we did a tasting there. The winery was founded in 1992, and the winery’s name translates to Beautiful Lake, which is fitting, since Michigan is the Great Lakes State. The winery is on thirty-seven acres and they grow about a hundred varieties from Cold Hearty to Vinifera. The winery produces about twenty-thousand cases a year, and they enjoy experimenting with extended barrel aging. The Tempesta is a blend of predominately Cabernet Franc with Merlot, Regent, Lemberger and Marquette. Each wine in this blend was fermented on the skins for several weeks before pressing. After selecting a few barrels of each wine, the wines are blended and returned to the barrels for thirty-two months in a mix of French and American Oak. For a quiet and private dinner at home, this wine was excellent and the Cabernet Franc really came through. A beautiful deep wine, with notes of black fruit, floral and spices, and on the palate, a perfectly blended with offerings of fruit, oak, balanced tannins and a medium length finish of terroir. A perfect example of what a Michigan wine can offer and we really didn’t buy enough of this wine when we were at the winery.
Another night in January, I came up from the cellar with a wine that truly made my Bride smile. It was hardly our most expensive wine, but it has a great spot in our heart and we have an assortment of vintages that I just like to keep to enjoy when the mood hits. We had a bottle of Illuminati Riparosso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1994 from Azienda Aericolo Dino Illuminati and was founded in 1890 and they are famed for their wines. The wine is pure Montepulciano, and this particular wine is from fruit harvested from one single hillside vineyard. The wine is aged for eight months in Slavonia Oak and then is aged an additional two to three months in the bottle before release. For years, this was one of our go-to wines, especially in our favorite restaurant back in the day. When young the wine is big and fruit flavored and at twenty-eight years of age it offered the elegant charms of a mature wine with layers of complexity of fruit, tannins and terroir and we were both extremely pleased with this wine, as neither of us knew what to expect, as we had never had this wine that old, and it will be a joy to try some of the other vintages that we still have. As you can see, our “Dry January” was celebrated with dry wines.