Bay Harbor, Michigan

If you are like me, you may have heard of Bay Harbor or mistaken it for some of the other harbors both in Michigan and across the country.  My Bride was going up for a board meeting and I was going along for the ride, actually I was doing the driving, so that she could keep up with phone calls and emails, even though she had made sure that everyone knew that she would be away from her desk, but that doesn’t seem to work, especially with coworkers.  Not only that, but she actually scheduled to see two clients that were kind of (?) on the way up, oh well it broke up the five-hour drive.

I know, I was drifting off course again, but that is rather common for me.  Bay Harbor is in a sheltered bay on the south shore of the Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan.  It is actually a residential and resort community that is part of the City of Petoskey.  In the late 19’th Century it actually was a limestone quarry and then it became Petoskey Portland Cement.  The mining and cement operation were a center of great employment for years and encompassed twelve-hundred acres and five miles of prime Lake Michigan shoreline.  In the 1980’s the company ceased production and left a brownfield of chromium brick, asbestos, coal and two-and-a-half million cubic yards of kiln dust.  In 1993 several parties got together to clean it all out and it became the largest reclamation in North America.  As we pulled off U.S. Highway 31 into Bay Harbor, even though I knew we were in Petoskey, I knew that we were not in Petoskey.  The collection of homes, boats, yachts and the marina that I saw as we were driving around made me wonder what the homes of the owners looked like, if this was just their vacation home. 

When we finally found the Inn at Bay Harbor, which is not an “Inn” as my mind’s eye had preconceived and it was only a couple of blocks from the “downtown” shopping area and the actual marina.  I was a little miffed, when we pulled up and found that our room wasn’t ready, so my Bride grabbed her laptop and found an area to keep working.  I on the other hand started to survey the area, and decided I needed something chilled to chill my mindset.  I discovered the Vintage Room, which was a bar, wine bar and a private restaurant and they were not averse to pouring me a glass of wine, so things were looking up.  I wasn’t looking for anything special, something chilled and I selected a glass of Tommasi Viticoltori Le Rosse Pinot Grigio DOC 2017 and it was a very generous pour in a Riedel wine glass and things were looking up.  Tommasi Viticoltori was founded in 1902 in the Veneto region and they are famous for their Amarone and many other wines as they have slowly increased their holdings in Lombardy, Tuscany and Puglia and now are in their fourth generation of family running the winery.  The wine is pure Pinot Grigio and Le Rosse is a single vineyard in the Valpolicella Classico district and I would venture that the wine was aged for a short time in Stainless Steel, because it was very fresh (green), and offered a distinctive “flint” terroir.  I had just gone out in the lobby that my Bride was working so she could have something cold and refreshing, then I stepped out the back door to look at the bay and saw Harbor Springs on the far side.  As I came back into the hotel, one of the workers at the front desk came by an handed me the keys to the room, which I thought was a great touch, so that we wouldn’t have to stand in a line again.  Things were definitely looking up, as the Bell Captain unloaded the car and took everything up to our room.

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500 Plus

Recently my publisher, WordPress, informed me that I now have over five-hundred followers, now to some that is a drop in the ocean, but to me, it is nice.  I have been writing for a long time, since 4 May, 2012.  I am impressed, because I do not chase people and I don’t collect numbers.  On my page and on all of my Social Media sites, I do not proselytize for followers.  I don’t ask for followers on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; if someone follows me, I will do the same.

I believe in the concept of quid pro quo, and I always marvel at how someone will want to follow me, and then not like anything I have ever written or posted.  If that is the case, why bother?  Are people so self-absorbed that they think, because they have deigned to follow me, that my life is now blessed?

I have to admit that I have really found some very interesting people since I have started blogging, some I may never meet in person, but I feel that I know them enough to call them a friend.  Some of us follow each other on multiple sites, and I must admit that I must get back to Twitter a bit more, because I never know if the one of the World Leaders may wish to chat with me.

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Still Another Graduation Party

We have had a year for high school graduates and there is nothing wrong with that.  I was the first male with my last name to graduate, first from high school and then from college, of course for my parent’s generation they were battling being first generation in a new world and then there was the Great Depression occurring at the time.  All of those DP’s or Displaced People as they were called back then in my family and circle were survivors of the first genocide of the Twentieth Century and they were not going to let the Depression ruin their dreams of a new life.  They were too busy learning to read and speak a new language and they didn’t have time to sit around a wait for the government to enslave them with handouts and be on the dole.  The times were tough, and most of the boys had to quit school to work, to help their parents out.  Yes, I think of how fortunate I was growing up that I missed that, as we keep striving to make it better for our families.  High School graduations are the norm now, but they are still a reason the celebrate, as we watch them getting ready to start their new life in college, where they will not try to get useless degrees for the real world that they will eventually face.  Then there are some that are deciding on learning a trade, and this has become quite the topic of today, because the trades no longer require years of servitude, but actually pay the apprentices while they learn.

I have gotten off of my soapbox and will discuss the last graduation party that we attended.  This last party, like most nowadays are held at the house utilizing the garage and renting tent(s) and chairs for the event.  Actually, I marvel at the business that saw this trend and started the rentals of these tents, tables and chairs.   In the old days, the grounds would be filled with the aromas of home cooked feasts proclaiming the nationality of the lucky graduate.   Today, the world is a bit more vanilla and the new generation of kids know the cuisine of the trendy nationalities that are found in the popular priced restaurants in all neighborhoods these days.  At this last party, the majority of the food was catered in on huge trays of “Arabic” food, though actually with the sweetness and spices used I would venture to say it was more Persian or Chaldean.  There was plenty of beef, chicken and lamb for all of the guests, plus assortments of salads, side and anything else one would need.  Then there were sweet tables as well, and even though I am not much of a cake eater anymore, I really enjoyed the pretzel sticks covered with caramel and then with dark chocolate. 

You can tell the world has changed from when I was in high school, back then then beverage table would have mixes, pops and bottles of liquor next to tubs of ice filled with premium beer brands of the day.  In Detroit, I think the biggest brands were Budweiser, Molson, Labatt’s and Stroh’s Bohemian; parents and students drank along side of each other, and there was hardly a bottle of wine to be found, unless perhaps a Mateus Rosé or later a Lambrusco.   I have now devised my own plan for attending most of these parties, first I eat before attending, and that way I can pick at some of the food, if it is not what I want, so that I am not starving.  I also bring a couple of bottles of wine for my Bride and me and who ever might want a glass; in fact, to play it safe, I also bring two wine glasses and a cork screw.   The first bottle that was opened was a Smith-Berry Winery Vignoles NV from New Castle, Kentucky that we bought on our last trip to Louisville.  While the winery was in Kentucky, the fruit for this wine came from Missouri, aged in Stainless Steel and in a bright cobalt blue glass bottle.  The wine carried the American AVA designation and there was no vintage, because the wine did not have a specific AVA.  The label said the wine was a “sweet white wine” and I would call it a semi-dry and it was a pleasure to drink on a warm day before the food was served.  I also brought a bottle of red, not knowing what the main dishes would be, I chose what I would call a middle of the road red.  Cantina Cardeto Umbria IGT Rosso 2016 and from the Wine Cooperative of the Orvieto Community and is one of their wines from their Town Series.  The label is a reproduction of an old print of Orvieto, one of the towns in Umbria and famous in its own right, and if you had the proper sequence of labels then you can recreate the panoramic view of Orvieto from that print.  Umbria is noted as being the only wine district in Italy that has neither a coastline or an international border that it abuts up to.  This particular red wine (Rosso) is a blend of seventy percent Cabernet Sauvignon, twenty-five percent Merlot and the balance is Sangiovese.  The vines for this series of wines are young with most between ten and twenty years of age.  The grapes are harvested in September, macerated and fermented in Stainless Steel and then aged for two weeks, and then aged another two months in bottle before release.  This wine for made for “instant gratification” as it was made to be drunk young, and not for cellaring.  It was just a nice easy drinking wine that was smooth and unfussy and worked with whatever was being tossed at it.  It was a nice party for all, and we look forward to the next one. 

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A Merlot and a Cab

There is just always something fun about tasting wines and I have two more to discuss from the last time that I was at the Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan.  A good wine shop is just like finding a good specialty shop in all fields of retail.  The modern world seems to enjoy cold sterile big box atmospheres, because they have done the research and they have no need to discuss any purchase with a “mere” employee.  I am sure that I am biased, but with my decades of experience in the realm of retail, I can tell you that some retail establishments are like a pair of old house shoes, just too comfortable to change.  Or maybe it is just because I am an old raconteur and I enjoy being in the company of other like-minded individuals.  A good wine shop will learn the needs of its regular customers and then guide them to the proper selections; and if there is a chance to try the wine, what could be better?  I am used to being in Michigan, and the law calls for a one ounce pour for a tasting, I mean we would all like a nice glass of wine, but an ounce is actually enough to do a tasting proud. 

Twomey Cellars produces Pinot Noir, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc from vineyards and coastal growing regions in California and Oregon.  The Duncan Family produces Cabernet Sauvignon at Silver Oak and they established Twomey Cellars in 1999 with the purchase of Soda Canyon Ranch Vineyard in the Napa Valley.  The estate now has two wineries, one in Calistoga dedicated to the production of Merlot and another winery in the Russian River Valley for the production of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.  I had the chance to taste the Twomey Cellars Merlot 2013 and it is a single vineyard wine from Merlot clones that produce low yield berries.  Twomey also uses the consultation services of Winemaker Jean-Claude Berrouet, who was the winemaker at Chateau Petrus.  Twomey Cellars also uses the class Bordeaux technique of soutirage traditionnel, which is labor extensive of racking the wines from barrel to barrel using gravity and tools honed in Bordeaux to soften the tannins and make the wine more aromatic. The wine has been blended with some Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, but not enough to disallow the wine to be marketed as a Merlot.  They use a combination of new, once-used, neutral and even Stainless Steel to age the wines for thirteen months.  I am very partial to Merlot wines and I found this wine to be on the big jammy side and a bit sweeter than I anticipated with some classic spice, but it was a pleasure to taste and it had a nice finish to it.  Just a great wine for everyone’s palette. 

The last wine that I tasted was Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 from Napa Valley.  Todd Anderson established this winery in 1983 with forty acres just south of Howell Mountain in St. Helena, but the winery traditionally uses the Napa Valley AVA.  The first vintage was in 1987 and they maintain a limited production and it is mainly distributed through its mailing list.  Todd Anderson also owns the cult wine from Napa with the label Ghost Horse.  This is the third year that they are making this wine and the majority of the fruit is estate grown, and there is three percent Cabernet Franc and one percent Merlot blended into the wine for roundness.  There is about seventeen months of barrel aging with fifteen percent new French Oak.  I found this wine to be instantly likeable, it was very chewy and a good amount of terroir that made me smile and a nice finish.  For a mid-priced Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, I thought this wine delivered like some of the bigger boys.   

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Bos Wines

I don’t know about you, but when I see a new winery to me, and that almost occurs daily, my brain tends to do free association links.  While I was at Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan picking up my June wine selections, I also did a few tastings; which I think is a great promotion concept.  Two of the wines that I tasted were from Bos Wines, and my brain went into overdrive, because I actually had a teacher in Junior High School whose last name was Bos.  It is funny how that works.

David Bos has been a vineyard manager in the Napa Valley for ten years and was immersed in the now lauded biodynamic/organic farming practices since day one.   He gets intimately involved with the vineyards to try and nurture all of the best from the vineyard.  David and Jackie Bos, along with their winemaker Jillian Johnson are striving to create an affordable cult-wine from Napa Valley.  Bos Wines got its beginning with the Napa Valley Phoenix Ranch single vineyard Syrah, and they have since added a Napa Valley Soda Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. 

They have also started a Moon BOS blend program consisting of a red, white and a rosé and the fruits are from David’s connections in Napa Valley, Sonoma, Clarksburg and East Bay.  The first wine that I tasted was the Bos Wine Moon BOS Harvest Red 2015.  I didn’t take a photo of the back label, and there is no listing of the grapes that were used to make this wine or any winemaker’s notes as well.  My notes on this wine was that it had a softer nose and a medium finish.   The newest addition to the wines being produced and offered is the DEO collection and so far, that is the Bos Wine DEO Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2015.  My notes said “unique nose” as I did not pick up immediate Cabernet Sauvignon aromas, but it was an easy drinking wine with a nice finish.  I just wish that wineries would make better use of their sites, as the world does seem interested in learning more, or is it just wine lovers?

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Two Reds from Fine Wine Source

While I was at my wine club picking up my selections for June, I thought I would ask if there was anything I should try.  If they are busy with sales, when I venture in, I do not even ask about wine tasting, because I always figure that there is another day.  There were some wines that I have already talked about, so that would be too repetitive.  The first two wines that I tried were both from the states, but one was from the Santa Lucia Highlands, California and the other was from Columbia Valley, Washington. 

I think that my ears actually perk up when I hear Santa Lucia Highlands mentioned.  Not that I am the end all, when it comes to wine, but I have opined more than a few times that I think that particular AVA is as close to Burgundy as I have found for both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  That is not to say that I haven’t had other varietals from the region, but those two seem to be prevalent and for the most part awesome.  The first wine that I tasted was Hope and Grace Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highland 2014.  Hope and Grace began in 2001 with the focus of single vineyard, single varietal artisan wine and their first wine was a Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highland.  The winemaker has some thirty years’ experience in the industry and he and his partner are now up to three thousand cases of wine of assorted varietals and vineyards; and they have not strayed from their original goal.  Doctor’s Vineyard I have mentioned in the past is known for its east facing sweeping shelf of eroded sandy loam soil, which is buffeted by cool, semi foggy winds every afternoon.  This wine was aged for sixteen months in French Oak and two Pinot Noir clones were used.  There were forty barrels produced and while the winemaker suggests 2020 for this wine, I think it will age beyond that, as I didn’t notice any signs of aging.  The nose offered red fruits, some rose petals and some spice.  I notice a bit of heat in the initial taste which went into red cherries, a trace of terroir and a nice finish.  I think it would be excellent with Roasted Duck. 

The second was Sleight of Hand Cellar “The Spellbinder” Red Blend 2016 from Columbia Valley, Washington.   Sleight of Hand Cellars began in 2007 and in the past twelve years they have received plenty of accolades from within the industry and wine writers.  “The Spellbinder” is their proprietary Red Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot.  The fruit came from four different vineyards and while there were no winemaking notes about production, it did say that there twenty-five-hundred cases produced.  The nose was pure Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and the taste was dark fruit with some nice terroir and tannins with a nice long finish.  This wine would work well with most meat dishes and I think it would be a nice wine with cheese and crackers and friends as well.

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Le Provencal 2018

This is the second bottle of wine for the month of June from my local wine club Fine Wine Source of Livonia, Michigan.   The official name of this wine is Les Maîtres Vignerons de la Vidaubanaise, Le Provencal Rosé, Cotes de Provence 2018.  Les Maîtres Vignerons de la Vidaubanaise translates in English to The Master Winemakers of the Vidaubanaise.  This a wine cooperative that was formed in 1922 and today is now in control of six-hundred hectares in the heart of the Appellation Cotes de Provence.  The vineyards are located on the limestone foothills of the Maures massif, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Alps.  This cooperative historically wins annual awards and rave reviews from the French Wine Trade and the Press.  Le Provencal is from the highest quality cuvees produced by the Maîtres Vignerons. 

The Cotes de Provence is the largest appellation in Provence and it has a few sub-regions as well.  The entire region is famed for their Rosé wines, as well as a Red wine made from the Tibouren.  The Rosé Wines are made from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Syrah and Mourvedre.  The Cotes de Provence originally was first established as a VDQS in 1951 and in 1977 it attained AOC status. 

The grapes for Les Maîtres Vignerons de la Vidaubanaise are grown on sandy soils on ancient limestone terraces and the vines now average from ten to thirty years of age.  After the harvest, a portion of the grapes undergo a cold maceration at various temperatures and lengths of time according to the grape variety, which produce an array of aromas.  The remaining grapes are processed in the traditional method of direct pressing.  Then all the wines are blended and aged in Stainless Steel until early February, and then bottled for maximum freshness.  Aromas of red fruits like currants, strawberries and melon are perceived.   A delicate wine with crisp acidity and promising a long finish.  The perfect wine for a hot summer day with lighter foods and seafood.  I will have to try it soon; in case I need to get some more for the season. 

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