Saturday, August 22
Picture perfect weather and a gorgeous location among the lawns and gardens of the Meadowbrook Music Festival north of Detroit, the 2015 Meadowbrook Wine and Food Festival didn’t disappoint… at least not with the wines.
With five large tents housing more than 150 wines from 18 regions and featuring 9 Michigan wineries there was something for everyone.
I spent my drink tickets principally on the Michigan wines. As expected I found a few that were sweeter than I prefer but on the whole Michigan made a strong showing.
St. Julian Winery
Late Harvest Riesling
Established shortly after the repeal of Prohibition, St. Julian is one of Michigan’s oldest and most well-known wineries. The Late Harvest Riesling is a sweet wine yet crisp and very approachable even for those, like me, who prefer dryer table wines. The wine is smooth on the palate with notes of peach and honey.
Motor City Dry Red – Syrah
The most “local” of the local wineries pouring at the festival, Fieldstone is located in downtown Rochester Hills, about 30 minutes north of Detroit and a few miles from the festival site. A local winery in that they make their wines here in southeast Michigan, Fieldstone sources their grapes from “all over,” including bringing the syrah in from California. A new line, the Motor City Red is lovely: soft, dry and medium-bodied, with notes of black cherry and a pleasant minerally finish. Locapour purists will argue this doesn’t classify as a local wine, and I agree. But with results like this I’m more than happy to support local winemakers.
Warner Vineyards Winery
2 Cab Merlot
A Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend, this wine has nice notes of dark berries without being overly jammy. Full-bodied with medium tannins, the wine has a nice, slightly “dusty” finish.
Vidal Blanc Ice Wine
I am a sucker for a good ice wine, and Warner’s didn’t disappoint. The wine had a silky, rather than satiny, mouth feel and lovely notes of pear and honeysuckle.
Pinot Noir “North”
Located in the northwest corner of the Lower Peninsula, not far from Traverse City, Bel Lago grows a number of cool climate grapes including Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Their Pinot Noir was my choice for pairing with lunch. Smooth, with soft notes of raspberry and cherry, medium-tannins, and a nice finish. The wine held up well against the beef brisket BBQ nachos I had for lunch, balancing the smoky sweetness of the BBQ sauce.
And speaking of food, for a festival advertised as a “Wine and Food Festival,” the food options were very slim. Kroger, the largest grocery chain in Michigan and a sponsor of the event, had a large tent at the entrance to the event featuring a sampling of standard grocery-store deli fare: Boar’s Head turkey or ham sandwiches, cheese and coleslaw. There were two food trucks: The Pistons Maplewood BBQ and Chick-A-Dee. The Maplewood BBQ beef brisket nachos were very good, but there’s no question this is NOT a food festival.
Seven Lakes Vineyard
I started my day with the Seven Lakes Capriccio, and at the end of the day this remained my favorite of all the wines sampled. Nice nose with light notes of cherry blossoms. In the mouth, the wine is juicy rather than jammy with bright notes of cherry. The finish has a very light pepper which balances the fruitiness, yielding a very nice wine. Looking forward to opening the bottle I brought home.
I finished out the afternoon with samples of two grapes I had come to love during my time exploring Connecticut Wineries. Seven Lakes’ Cab Franc was surprisingly earthy – surprising to me who had grown so accustomed to the very fruit-forward cherry I found in Connecticut Cab Francs. Full-bodied with lovely notes of grass and well-balanced tannins and a smooth finish.
Dizzy Daisy’s Marechal Foch, like the Cab Franc which I sampled shortly afterward, came as a surprise – in this case a shock… it was sweet! I had my first encounter with Marechal Foch almost seven years ago when I first started traveling the CT Wine Trail. Finding the grape to come across as very young and green, it took me quite a few samplings before I came to appreciate it, and even longer before I became a fan. Like so many other CT reds it was very fruit forward, but it was always a dry wine. As a semi-sweet wine, the fruit notes were much stronger and also smoother than in other Marechal Foch’s I’ve tried. The additional sugars balanced out the “greenness” I often detected, and as a result I suspect Dizzy Daisy’s is more approachable to a majority of wine drinkers. But as my preference leans towards dry wines, I found this to be less interesting.
It’s hard to glean a lot about wines and winemakers from 1 oz samples, especially when you are sampling across a range of wineries. With people lined up behind you, there’s not much time to chat. But as a small introduction to the wines of my new home state it was a great afternoon.