I enjoy exploring new regions of the country’s great grape growth. Every state in the union makes wine. With California, Washington, New York, and Oregon securing the top four spots, several states are making a play for the coveted number five. Wine writers like Russ Kane and Jim Wilkerson often talk up the big state of Texas. Great Virginia evangelists like Dezel Quillen and Frank Morgan waive the “Virginia is for Wine Lovers” banner. But, there is a glove shaped state making a play for the #5 spot. With the fine folks at Michigan by the Bottle and Mike Fifer on board, the home of the Lions, Tigers and Bear haters is getting good press for pressing out some quality juice.
Shannon and Courtney Casey run MichiganbytheBottle.com and seem to be on a single minded mission to get Michigan wine on the palates and minds of every wine loving tweeter in the twitterverse. The fifth installment of Tweet and Taste Michigan featured the wines of Silver Leaf Vineyard and Winery. Silver Leaf is a family establishment making nearly 2000 cases of small production hand crafted wines. Located north of Traverse City on the North West portion of the state (near the pinky), the winery is part of the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association. The produce 8 wines with the price points ranging from $11 – $16. VALUE ALERT!
For this month’s tasting, it was a pleasure exploring the region and getting to know their Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Lemberger (Purple Foot).
2009 Silver Leaf Pinot Gris
- The Stuff: Labeled non-vintage and as American, this Pinot Gris is made from grapes in various vineyard sources in Michigan and is 98% Pinot Grigio and 2% Chardonnay. The wine sees “some” time in oak but undergoes no malo-lactic fermentation; 12.2%ABV – LOVE the zip tie type foil access!
- The Swirl: Pale yellow apple in the glass with hints of effervescence, seems moderately ‘thick’
- The Sniff: Nice soft aromas of spice, and lemon-lime erupt from the glass. A nicely presented nose really builds the anticipation for the first sip.
- The Sip: Very well balanced flavor with subtle presentations of peach, and citrus without being tart. A medium acidity provides a finish that makes this a good sipping wine or perfect for pairing with shell fish and spicy fair.
- The Score: While the wine wasn’t overly complex it was a solid effort and a super affordable price point. Retailing for $14, this could be a go to bottle for people who like crisp whites. 3/5
2009 Silver Leaf Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling from Leelanau area; 12.9%ABV; 1% residual sugar that on the web site is curiously listed as “added back” – not much else listed on the web site
- The Swirl: Very light straw color with hints of green apple
- The Sniff: Mostly tropical flowers on the nose, tight and restrained
- The Sip: A slight touch of sweetness on the palate that quickly gives way to soft flavors of peach and apricot. A wet stone minerality rocks the finish along with a pretty strong acidity. The finish is quick but pleasing.
- The Score: At only $14, this is another bargain that showcases the quality price ratio that is so strong in Michigan; 3/5
Silver Leaf Purple Foot
- The Stuff: 100% Lemberger from Southern Michigan vineyard sources; 10 months on French and American oak; 13.5%ABV
- The Swirl: Extremely light and translucent in the glass. Reminiscent of a Pinot Noir with ruby tones.
- The Sniff: On the nose this wine is a smoky blackberry aroma with hints of earth
- The Sip: A good “starter red” with a thin flavor profile. The taste turns tart with cranberry and puckered tannin on the finish. To me the wine feels a little disjointed and not what I’ve come to expect from a Lemberger.
- The Score: At $16, the Purple Foot is a good price but wasn’t something I would particularly purchase. 3-/5
*Wine was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review
19 Apr 2010
Ford, Chevy, Dodge. Ted Nugent, Motown, and Eminem. Tigers, Red Wings, Lions. Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Blue Franc. If we were playing the game “one of these things is not like the other,” some would quickly call out the last group as not representing Michigan. With 71 wineries (and growing) Michigan is making quite a statement with quality wine. Still young, the region is expanding acreage and seeing improvements as the vines continue to age. Really, Michigan wine?
When approached by blogger friend Shannon Casey of Michigan by the Bottle to participate in a Twitter tasting event, I didn’t hesitate in saying, “yes.” I’ve been following Shannon and Courtney’s blog for several months and as ambassadors of Michigan wine he and his wife, Courtney, have had me intrigued by the wines produced in Michigan. Due to absurd wine shipping laws, Michigan wine is hard to come by, so any opportunity to taste what I’ve only seen and heard on their pod casts became top priority.
Shady Lane Cellars was the featured winery for this taste and tweet event. Producing over 7000 cases from 52 acres of estate vineyards in Northern Michigan, Shady Lane planted grapes in 1988 and produced their first wine in 1992. Located on 150 acre 100 year old fruit farm, Shady Lane’s Adam Satchwell is “committed to producing the highest quality fruit with the lowest impact upon our surroundings.” Their wine line-up consists of dry and semi-dry Riesling, sparkling wine, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Lemberger, and more!
A Taste and Tweet event is a showcase of all that is awesome about social media. People who would have otherwise never met, share a glass (or in this case 3) of wine for education, entertainment, and awareness of something new. With more than 50 tweeters, even more participating in group gatherings, Michigan was spotlight for the night. The tasting line up consisted of the three wines reviewed below (also shown in the video).
Twitter tasting events show the power of social media. Brand impressions and marketing awareness all lead to increased sales and market presence. The next tasting event is #Chardonnay on May 6. Follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #Chardonnay or share your experience through Facebook at Community Wine Tastings on Twitter.
2008 Shady Lane Dry Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% estate grown Riesling, 142 cases, no residual sugar, 12.2%abv
- The Swirl: Light straw, slight honey color with a ton of bubbles in the glass, but not a sparkling wine
- The Sniff: Very lively floral aromas with yeast and tart apple being predominant. Hints of honey undertones round out the sniff.
- The Sip: A dry crisp apple with medium tart finish. The acidity is nice but the minerality is slightly off on the finish. Beautiful representation of a new world dry Riesling.
- The Score: At $16.50 this is a fantastic deal. I score it a 3+ (out of 5) and would recommend this as a great food wine with spicy food, sushi, and veggie driven pasta dishes.
Great tweet description from @farlanewastaken “Sharp, definitely brash. I think that you’ve got a bombastic hussy on your hands.”
2007 Shady Lane Pinot Noir
- The Stuff: 100% estate grown Pinot Noir, 752 cases, no residual sugar, 13.8%abv
- The Swirl: Very translucent (70%) with tawny port rusty purple tones. Solid color out to the edges.
- The Sniff: Bright candy cherry with hints of sour fruit. Slight pepper and cocoa on the undertones.
- The Sip: Slight cranberry, cherry fruit and rocks; powerful acidity. A slight earthiness throws off the finish. Medium tannin indicates that this wine would cellar well and improve with 1-3 more years in bottle.
- The Score: At $22, I score this a 3 (out of 5). The price is great for a well made Pinot Noir and definitely showcases the potential of Michigan Pinot
Great tweet on the Pinot from @aschie30 Pinot Noir is the one varietal (so far) where I really sense a distinct MI terroir in color, the nose & palate. #ttmi
2008 Shady Lane Blue Franc
- The Stuff: 100% estate grown Blaufrankish (Lemberger), 483 cases, no residual sugar, 12.3%abv
- The Swirl: Bright purple and about 50% translucent. Edges turn clear and watery
- The Sniff: Mellow aromas of blueberries and moss. Swirling generates a little more pepper aroma.
- The Sip: Round mouth feel with a bitter undertone defined by black tea and blueberries. A gentle punch of tannin and acidity finish out the sip.
- The Score: At $22, I score this a 3- (out of 5). I’m comparing this score to my previous experiences with Blue Franc / Lemberger.
NOTE: Some of the tweeters considered this wine their favorite. This shows the complexity and diversity that occurs among tasting.
Great tweet on the Blue Franc from @winegenie Blue Franc (aka Lemberger & Blauufrankish) Palate: velvety texture, soft velour tannins, grapey, smooth, rich warm blueberries.