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Dan Smothergill

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Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by Dan Smothergill » Thu Jul 06, 2006 3:47 am

We have agreed to host a tasting for our AWS chapter of wines from the Traverse City area. Coincidentally, we soon will be out that way so we plan to take the opportunity to visit some wineries and pick up the wines.

Like it or not, choices will have to be made. Which wineries should we go to? Which wines would be good for a tasting? The format for our tastings is 8 wines in 2 flights of 4 each. Typically, wines in the first flight are whites and those in the second are reds, but that is flexible. Also, we like to taste a range of wines rather than a single kind (e.g., Riesling). But that too is open. In an area known for one kind of wine several examples of that wine would be appropriate.

So we need some help from those with experience with Traverse City wines. Which ones should we get?
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Re: Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by Robin Garr » Thu Jul 06, 2006 9:08 am

Dan, you'll get more help from those closer to the scene, but for starters, Grand Traverse has been impressive with its Rieslings, and I've had good experience with wines from Mawby. (I assume you're including the Leelanau Peninsula in your definition of Traverse City?)
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Re: Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by David Creighton » Thu Jul 06, 2006 10:38 am

Hello Dan - i think i heard my name called. this is my day job - the michigan wine thing. you could start with http://www.michiganwines.com you can order a copy of our magazine which has maps and stories - all of which are also available online. the magazine has a what's new section which may help you make the difficult decisions about where to go. you can also check the listing online of gold medal winners from recent competitions. this may give you an idea of what you want to acquire. the san francisco compeitition is not there yet because they haven't put it up yet. i do know that peninsula cellars manigold vineyard gewurz got a gold; but i don't know much else. you could contact me through the site with more specific questions as well. you might also check the online events calendar - there are probably things going on while you are there. the picnics at l. mawby vineyards are worthwhile, as is the jazz at sunset at ch. chantal. you might want to bring some artisanal michigan cheese back with you for your tasting - leelanau cheese company is located at black star farms. i look forward to hearing from you if you need me. sincerely; david
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Re: Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by Dan Smothergill » Fri Jul 07, 2006 9:59 am

Robin, I see that Mawby has gone pretty much exclusively to sparklers. That would be a good choice for openers. We will get up to Grand Traverse too. Thanks.
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Re: Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by Daniel Paulson » Fri Jul 07, 2006 11:10 am

Hi Dan,
Where you hold the tasting? In Syracuse or in MI?

Thanks,
Daniel
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Re: Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by OW Holmes » Fri Jul 07, 2006 12:23 pm

Dan, I will expose my prejudices here, but you've probably already noticed them.
Peninsula Cellars is a star. Their semi-dry riesling is, year in and year out, a favorite. They are on Old Mission Peninsula. The winemaker there, Brian Ulbrich, I think prefers the Gewurtraminer. He also has his own label and makes Left Foot Charley dry riesling. Also on OMP is Brys Estate, which makes a wonderful semi-dry Riesling. I intended to put that one out at NiagarCOOL but forgot.
Mawby indeed does all sparklers, one of which is SEX. Not the best but fun to serve at a party - "Could I interest you in some sex!" And I echo Robin's endorsement of Ch Grand Traverse. My favorite there is the late harvest Riesling.
I have yet to find a red from that area that is any good. And some of the staff there will admit that they don't do that well with reds. I might be inclined to go with all whites, one flight of Riesling, and one of "other whites" in which I'd include the Gewurz, a Mawby sparkler (I will check my notes to see which one) and an unoaked chardonnay from one of the Leelanau Peninsula wineries - if I can think of which one it was. But in your trip, you will undoubtedly find several to fill that flight.
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Re: Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by Dan Smothergill » Sat Jul 08, 2006 6:36 am

Where you hold the tasting? In Syracuse or in MI?

Syracuse. We like to try different wines.

Thanks for your candid remarks OW. I'll try getting in touch with Brian Ulbrich about the Left Foot Charley. We both liked that at NiagaraCool too. As for reds, what you say pretty much confirms what I thought. A flight of "other whites" might be the way to go. We'll shop around once we get there.
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Re: Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by David Creighton » Sat Jul 08, 2006 4:54 pm

forget about there not being any good reds there - and most certainly from the 2005 vintage. the 2004 brys estate cab franc was voted best red wine discovery at the awards presentation put on by the wine appreciation guild - only wine writers in attendance. it was also a hit at a recent wine dinner - with provencal style lamb. the 2005 meritage from leelanau cellars amazed people at a recent tasting in detroit and received a gold medal at the great lakes competiton. and don't miss the 2003 and 2004 pinot noir from black star. this is just the beginning.
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Re: Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by Bob Ross » Sat Jul 08, 2006 7:49 pm

Hi David,

It's great to see you chiming in here -- especially when the Michigan wine alarm goes off.

I for one would love to see you post more often. Perhaps your views on the most recent vintages of Michigan wines that you've enjoyed?

I thought your seminar in Cleveland a few years ago was wonderful.

I suppose you are doing the same thing from time to time now.

How about posting the fruits -- as it were -- of your labors. As you can tell from the Finger Lakes crew, there's a real audience here for wines from some of the smaller wine producing states.

[Would that New Jersey would have some more worth posting on. :-(]

Regards, Bob
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Re: Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by Bob Henrick » Sat Jul 08, 2006 9:21 pm

Dan, I will join with Robin in singing the praises of Ch. Grand Traverse (CGT). If you want a dry riesling try their "whole cluster" riesling, and for a non riesling try their edelzwicker. for a ringer to get people to guessing, try the Good Harbor vineyards "fishtown" white. it is a blend of chardonnay, seyval, vignoles, and pinot gris. It is a no brainer for me each year when I go to Mo'Cool in August, but I never seem to buy enough of it! IIRC it is about $7 per 750ml. Regardless of what OW told you about reds, CGT also makes a really fine reserve gamay, and I don't even much care for gamay! If you call Sean at CGT, maybe he can scare some of the gamay up for you as I don't see it on their web page. Basically though I do agree with OW, not a lot of Michigan reds I care for. I also agree with OW about the Peninsula Cellars wines. OK, that is enough agreeing with OW! :-)
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Re: Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by OW Holmes » Sun Jul 09, 2006 9:40 pm

Dan, it sounds like David has found your red wine flight!!! I have not had a single one of the wines he recommends, and I confess that the comment I made about Mich reds is based on a limited sampling of recommended reds, and that I have not had a 2005, or a Brys Cab Franc. I have had the Black Star pinot. But what the heck, give them a try. You'll be sampling at vineyards anyway, so form your own judgment. And let us all know. I would love to be proved wrong about northern Michigan reds.
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Re: Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by Dan Smothergill » Mon Jul 10, 2006 3:59 am

Thanks to everyone for their comments. We won't have much time in the wine region so this really has been helpful. The tasting itself will be held in the winter or possibly spring of next next year. I'll post the results.
Cheers!
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Re: Candidates for A Tasting of Traverse City, Michigan Wines

by David Creighton » Mon Jul 10, 2006 5:49 pm

Thanks for the kind remarks; bob. some of the fruits of my labor can be found in the 'what's new' section of our magazine - available free as a hard copy or as a pdf at http://www.michiganwines.com

when i ask our winemakers why the reds seem to be getting better, they tell me that it is a combination of learning more about cultural practices in the vineyards and how to treat the grapes in the winery. personally, in some cases i think it also is a matter of the oak barrels continually imparting less influence. at its best, the fruit quality here is something you don't want to hide with much oak.

so, i am saying that the reds have gotten better almost regardless of vintage. that said, the quality of the 2005's is so far above anything we have seen before that they need to be experienced to be believed. the color alone tells you something unusual has occurred.

I had hoped to speak to the aws conference in baltimore - but had to cancel. we are on a pretty short leash here at state government; and out of state travel is hard to pull off.

i'll try not to curb my instinct to hit 'reply' too often. again, thanks for the kind remarks; Sincerely; David
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