Monday, August 20, 2018

Cork Poppers Sample the Wines of Grand Traverse

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...


...the wildlife...


...the birds...


...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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46 comments:

Valerie-Jael said...

This must have been a fun day. Glad you found some good wines to drink! I know someone who always chooses wine with pretty labels! Have a great day, hugs, Valerie

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

I do love reading your Cork Poppers posts. What a great bunch of friends you have! They sound like they have a great sense of humour - an absolute necessity! The food also looks amazing. -Jenn

David Gascoigne said...

Wine and cheese is one of the world’s great pairings and people who don’t experience it are missing one of life’s premier pleasures. My wife is of Mennonite background and many of her relatives eschew alcohol in all its forms, so we have to be mindful of who we invite for dinner. The wine drinking friends get priority! I had no idea that Michigan had a wine industry. California wines have been quite popular here, but there is an ever growing boycott of American products due to Trump’s idiotic rants about our country and our Prime Minister, and his ridiculous imposition of tariffs which are damaging your own economy. I just read that tourism from Canada to the USA is down 26% and a couple of local food chains are substituting fresh fruit from other countries wherever possible. It is pretty sad that it has come to this. The staggering and terrifying gun violence in your country doesn’t help either.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, I enjoy your wine tasting posts. The food looks delicious and it is a great time with your friends. Happy Monday, enjoy your day and the new week ahead!

Vicki @ lifeinmyemptynest said...

While I agree that some Michigan wines can be barely drinkable, there are also some really good ones. Try Bower Harbor Winery on the peninsula. Also, having just gone on a wine tasting tour this summer on Old Mission Peniinsula, it is more about the experience. Beautiful scenery, lovely vineyard stops and tasting rooms and the chance to stumble on a good wine when you least expect it.

Red Rose Alley said...

I always enjoy seeing your favorite wines, and especially the wine labels. What a Yummy spread of food. And those cream puffs! My mom used to love cream puffs and would treat herself now and then to some. You look so cute in this picture, Jeanie, and happy. Is that a tie-dye shirt? I love tie-dye shirts and wear them now and then. Your pictures of nature and wildlife are lovely, Jeanie.

~Sheri

Mae Travels said...

You reinforce our decision (taken years ago) to avoid all Michigan red wines, and to choose the whites defensively if at all. Your post is really enjoyable -- all the comments from your group are so apt. But wine does go with everything: somehow we noticed that there are quite a few wine advice columns that explain which wines go with Cheezits! We plan to try them with Pepperidge Farm Goldfish (which are kind of like Cheezits but lack that metallic aftertaste).

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Silver Willow said...

what a great time! I used to love the sweet wines, but now I prefer them VERY dry. And I can't drink red at all. It guarantees kidney stones for me. Looks like a wonderful time for everyone!

Sandi said...

"...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."

Ha ha! I'm sorry, but it's weird that they have a wine! ;-D

gigihawaii said...

How wonderful! Nice wine and food with nice friends.

Jean R. said...

I'm surprised you didn't have Traverse City cherries and walnuts salads which are extremely popular where I live but, gosh, your hosts sure set a great tables with yummy foods.

How do you each choose your wine to bring? Are they assigned so you don't have duplicates? I love reading about your Cork Poppers parties.

BB said...

Well, now I know what "legs" means. Thank you.

I'm dieting again, and I lingered over the food shots. I bet Rick's bread was delicious. Everything looked beautiful. Good friends, good wine (some not so good) and good food, what could be better?

William Kendall said...

I'd be out of my depth with wine tasting.

Regina said...

All those pictures of food! Oh it all looked so good! Thank you for sharing such a lovely post.

Joanne Huffman said...

You definitely have a good time at Cork Poppers. Always good to read about.

AnnMarie aka Vintage Junkie aka NaNa said...

What a fun post and I don't even drink wine! The dinner looks fantastic as well as the boat ride and the company is always good!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

It sure looks like you had fun! And the labels are very pretty. My Dad was a wine connoisseur and he always said not to buy a wine because of the label. But it's tempting and fun to try something new!

Pamela said...

This group looks fabulously fun (and educational)!

My name is Erika. said...

Your cork popper get togethers always looks like fun. And what a night you had this time. Maybe Michigan wines aren't quite California or French wines, but I bet you can't take such a cool boat ride or eat quite so nicely. That was worth coming home from the lake for I think. Hugs-Erika

Marilyn Miller said...

Ahhh good food and a boat ride topped off with pretty red wines, what more can you ask. What fun you do have with your "Corkies". Loved the packages at the table, the gifts inside sounded just perfect.

DUTA said...

You look good and sweet in the picture, and that's all that matters. Wines are secondary. I'm not a wine drinker, but I have great respect for wine drinkers and conoisseurs (I'm a great lover of grapes, though :).
As for food. I love experimenting, and now I've just tried morroccan bread (delicious). Your food pictures are mind blowing!

Blondie's Journal said...

OhMy Gosh---how fun! I think Michigan wine is outstanding! I do love wine tours, but the thing is...red wine is not my thing and I can barely stomach trying it. I know, I'm not a happy camper on wine tasting tours!

Enjoy your good times, lady!!

Jane

Tracy said...

Such fun, Jeanie! With such good good, and such good company, I would think most any wine would go down a treat... ;) Those appetizers alone is making me drool... (I've not had lunch yet-ha!) I jut love these detailed wine posts--I learn so much! And the bottle label-art is always fun to see. Cherry almond soap... ooo...that sounds lovely! It feels like we have fewer American wines to choose from at the moment, from what the equivalent of our local state stores. I'm sure it has to do with "current conditions," tariffs and whatnot... *sigh*... So I'm glad to sample some here! Thanks for the fun, Jeanie! :) Happy Week ((HUGS))

La Table De Nana said...

I enjoy wine:) Not savvy at all though..I buy according to labels and drink Js on a regular basis..He makes his own.
That pic of the apps is outstanding..and those cream puffs!! Fun fun group you have:)

Lynne said...

Delightful Jeanie . . .
Loved the teasing, the cheer, the info, wine, food, boat ride too . .
And Rick relaxing.. .
What a fun group of friends . . . just wonderful!

Pom Pom said...

All your photos are bright and cheery! So fun!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oh Jeanie.....you really know how to "taste the earth" - this wondrous life we've been accorded and freely permitted to taste, sow, reap, and continue on in this cycle. Wine among many fruits of the earth, give us so many perspectives about the land, doesn't it? Only to the acutely present soul whose senses embrace all of this goodness can so many adjectives pop up to describe it all. Lake life is awesome, ain't it! Oh my friend, thank you as well for coming to visit my blog.

Danielle L Zecher said...

It does sound like you're better off being one of the first few to offer up your wine. I love how surprised everyone seemed when there was a good one. The food looked amazing, and the soaps sound like the perfect favors. You can't beat cherry almond!

Jenny Woolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny Woolf said...

The labels are all pretty! And the food lovely, as always. How's your foot doing? I hope it's improving!

Sandra Cox said...

Your wine tasting parties are always so much fun. You get the best of several worlds:)

Shelia said...

HI Sweetie Pooh! Oh, what fun y'all have! Look at you being so gorgeous and all! Thanks for popping in to see me. I sure was hoping we could meet up someday but you just never know. Hope all is well and I'll see you when I get to Texas
Be a sweetie,
Shelia :)

Running on empty said...

Sounds like a fabulous day. You should have an Australian wines day sometime. They are famous. We have good produce too, kangaroo sausages are lean and tasty for a bbq, nice cheeses, Tasmanian smoked salmon, etc.

Wandering Wren said...

Oh gosh trust me, having been away from the Blogging world to jump straight back in at at Cork Poppers post!
I've said it before I love this idea, although the stress of bring something better than for poaching pears would have me all of a dither! What a trully delightful post!
Your food always looks amazing and I want some of those beautiful floral plates, not to mention I have been trying to work out what is at the end of the tea shirt "I've never owned a vineyard but...". Sound like it could be a good phrase for a competition!
Anyway happy days and I'm delighted to have popped by - haha!
Wren x

Ellie HS said...

Your blog articles are very interesting and beautiful!
I love to try making the frogmore stew sometime soon.xx

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, I chuckled all through this post. Y’all are such a fun bunch. The food looks amazing and the boat ride was certainly a hit. Happy Wednesday!

Sketchbook Wandering said...

Oh là là! YOU all, as always, had a lot of fun and relaxation! I am allergic to wine, but I do love the labels and the colors in the bottles. You captured them well! A friend of mine holds wine tasting parties and she even taught a class at Senior College on how to start a wine tasting group.

Snap said...

Your cork poppers group sounds like so much fun. I've been known to buy a bottle of wine just because I liked the label....!!!!!!!! Have a fun week.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Your Poppers group has so much fun! I like the idea of domestic wines, but I agree, some states don't really have the ability to produce exceptional taste. The meal and dessert looked exceptional and the table setting wa beautiful.

We are going to a Napa wine tasting dinner at an Italian restaurant this week--it is our second time doing this. Last time we tasted wines from the Veneto region of Italy. It was a lot of fun and we met quite a few interesting couples as we were seated at a table of 8. We've been fortunate to visit Napa wineries in CA a few times, and also Sonoma wineries. There are quite a few wonderful wines from both regions. We both prefer red wines--I love a good hearty cab!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

No offense taken regarding the MN wine comments! We are not known for our wine as the climate is so terrible for growing grapes! But it sounds like your MN wine night provided lots of laughs and a benchmark for how awful wine can taste!! Haha! Sounds like such a fun night with friends - especially the pre-dinner cruise!!

Rita C. said...

Oh, how I love this group! Honestly, one could learn a lot my sharing in the cork popping....even a little about wine. ;)

Victoria Zigler said...

Glad you all had a great time, and found some wines you liked at least a little.

Katie Mansfield said...

What a fun time. That dinner looks fabulous. The boat ride too. Thanks for linking to Keep in Touch.

Tamara said...

Great post - and sounds like a fun time! Firstly can I say, I dont ever recall hearing about wines from Minesota in the international market... just saying :) But I would like to propose a Cork Poppers evening in honnor of Australian Wines. I grew up in the Clare Valley in South Australia, next door to the Barrossa Valley. Both very famous wine districts. From there I moved to the Canberra Region, where the cold climate wines are highly rated. Now I live near at the base of the Hunter Valley - one of the most famous wine districts in the Southern Hemisphere. Highly recommend a tour into these districts - lets see if Rick has any complaints there.. then you must pair with Lammingtons, Pavlova or a really good Lamb!

Jann Olson said...

I am not a wine drinker, but it sure looks like fun! May tempt me to start. :) Those cream puffs, now I'd never pass those up!! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
hugs,
Jann

Barbara Chapman said...

Too funny, Jeanie! I like our ending!! The first time I had Gerwürztraminer was when I was 19 over somewhere near Leverkusen, Germany with my exchange partner Katja and some of her friends. It was 10:30 at night, this restaurant/bar was in an old grainery with a water wheel rolling slowly around and it might have been the atmosphere, but the wine was GOOD! It really is a pretty sweet wine but it's wonderful with desserts. :)

Charles and I went to a wine pairing dinner party several times with friends we met through Boy Scouts {when our kids were in high school}. Everyone was assigned a specific dish to bring plus assigned a specific wine to bring. Our was an Italian sausage pasta dish and an Old World wine... There was a Z somewhere in the name. The wine was really good! And I know nothing about wines!

Fun reading what all you guys talked about while tasting these,
Barb :D

p.s. Being almost a teetotaller, when I have 1/2 glass I'm already talking away a mile a minute! Cheap date. ;)

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