Let me say at the start, I wasn't expecting much from our wine tasting of Michigan's Grand Traverse region wines. The reds, for the most part, aren't well suited to our climate. The whites stand a better chance. But when Roger and Meredith suggested this theme for our August Cork Poppers, we all rallied. After all, Roger had hosted the "Wines of Minnestota" a few years ago to abysmal results and if nothing else we would be able to rib him about one state or the other.
(Apologies to my Minnesota readers. Perhaps the ones we tried didn't do your beautiful state justice.)
Our gathering started with a fabulous set of appetizers -- an antipasto plate from Kate, a veggie plate from Jan, Rick's bread and loads of cheese from Bob and Dick.
Then it was onto the wines, starting with Clayton and Anne's offering from Aurora Cellars on the Lelenaw Peninsula, a 2013 Gerwurztraminer. It was nicely chilled and we started off with a bang!
"It's delightful!" said Cheryl, our white wine expert. "It's zingy! On your tongue! I love it -- I had seconds already!" I noticed it had nice legs and called it a "beach wine" and Clayton said, somewhat surprised by his own choice, "This is really good!" Score one! ($17.99 at the winery and available at Michigan Whole Foods.)
Dick and Cheryl offered a Laurentide Sauvignon Blanc 2015 next (21.99). "This one is GOOD!" said Barb in surprise. I noticed it had nice legs (those little drips that hold on the inside of the glass and slowly drip down) and someone else added "It goes down fast, I know that!"
Roger was next with Hawthorne 2017 Semi-dry Gerwurztraminer from the Mission Peninsula (where I ventured on my birthday!)
I didn't like this one as well as the first Gewurztraminer -- to me it felt more like a Chardonnay, which Dick described as creamy and oaky. Roger found it for $14.99.
Jan offered the first red of the day, Cuvee No. 7 Unrestricted. This was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Franc grapes from Petoskey's Mackinac Trail Winery.
I found it "thin." More like a Pinot Noir. Roger said it was the one he liked best so far. Jan didn't remember the price but said it was close to $20.
Kate offered Chateau Chantal's 2015 Malbec "Tango" next.
This was an interesting story. The chateau purchased a vineyard in Argentina specifically to grow the Malbec grapes. They were crushed and fermented in Argentina. The "must" (the mixture of the crushed, fermented grapes) was then sent up to Traverse City where it was turned into wine and bottled.
"It tastes like a Malbec they made yesterday," Kate observed and Roger agreed, saying it was "weak." I found this also to be more like a Pinot Noir than a Malbec. But someone nominated it for "best story for the worst wine."
Well, about here, things started to disintegrate. "This is much better than the wines of Minnesota," Mike M. pointed out. "I wish you'd forget that," Roger said. "I'd like to," chirped up Rick. "Well," Roger said to Mike, reminding him of a past tasting when Barb jokingly brought a Boone's Farm, "it was your wife who brought the blue stuff." (I should add here that when I posted about the wines of Minnesota, the reviews weren't all as bad as I remember the conversation being!)
Barb tried to be the peacemaker. "What I liked about the wines of Minnesota were the labels." Mike did acknowledge they had better labels that the wines of Michigan.
So, I had to follow this discussion, which by now was out of hand. It was somewhat fitting that I presented our wine, "Asylum," by Black Star Farms (on the Mission Peninsula as well). It was specially bottled for the Northern Michigan Asylum and purchased at their shop for $15.99.
"This isn't as bad as I thought," I admitted after tasting it. "It's pretty good," agreed Mike S. Vindicated. Henry. And I did get to share a bit of my story. Barb (who may or may not be a distant cousin) and Rick (who also may or may not be a distant cousin) and I offered a toast to my great grandfather
Bob offered Arcuturos 2013 Pinot Noir, also from Black Star Farms. Bob's son had bought a case of it. The vineyards were formed from former horse farm property in 1998. Someone called it "sweet and yummy and red."
As you can see, by now the conversation had disintegrated into issues on how picky it was for an organization to serve liquor at an MSU fundraiser, how many unnecessary hoops had to be jumped through and that if everyone held their event off campus it would be a lot easier. We also bemoaned the fact that you can't carry anything much larger than a phone into the stadium and no food or beverage whatsoever.
Ï always swore I would never be last at this group," Barb said. Anne sympathetically agreed. Ït gets worse every time, doesn't it."
Barb brought Artisan Red, a Michigan semi-sweet red table wine, again from Black Star Farms. She read a riotously scathing review which she had written and should be posted on all wine sites. "If you were born before 1960 this is not the wine for you."
It is a blatant party wine, we decided, and too sweet. "It won't last," someone said. "It won't last is for damn sure," Barb's husband said. "This tastes like a headache to me," someone said. However I decided (and Barb agreed) that it would be good for poaching pears. "I like it," Jan said.
Rick summed it up. "It reminds me of the wines of Minnesota." At which point, we drank a toast to Aretha.
Part of the fun of Corkies at Rog and Mere's is the boat ride up the Grand River with Captain Roger.
While some stayed home to work on their dinner offerings, I enjoyed this one tremendously, partly for the companionship...
...the beautiful views...
...and the relaxing atmosphere.
Somehow, Kate and Mike got the boat appropriately docked!
Meredith's table theme was cherries, as Traverse City is considered the "cherry capital of the world," at least that's what they tell you. The men had candies as their favors. The women had the most fragrant cherry almond soap bars.
Dinner? Can't beat it! Anne's enormous Caesar....
...was a perfect companion to Mere's Frogmore Stew.
For dessert, Barb's mega-cream puffs.
For Dick and me, birthday candles!
And all in all, another great day of popping! Good food, good friends good wine.
Even if it was Michigan wine.
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