Traverse City Record Eagle writer Marta Helper Drahos had sampled raclette dinners in France and Germany, so when she “learned that a local tasting room/bistro offers European-style raclette right here in Traverse City, I thought it would be a fun way to catch up with foodie friends we hadn’t seen in a while.”
You can read about her recent experience at TASTES. To experience the dinner yourself, just gather a group of 2 to 18 friends, call 231.944.1349, and book your evening. TASTES is closed on Monday and serves their Matterhorn Grill dinners Wednesday-Saturday.
The October issue of Cooking Light features its first-ever Taste Test Awards – “The Tasties.” The editors tested 200 food products and came up with the best-tasting winners in 32 categories. Twenty-six of the categories feature grocery store products while six showcase artisanal standouts. Our Leelanau Cheese Comapny’s Raclette topped the Artisinal Cheese list.
Cooking Light? Full-fat cow’s milk cheese? They note: “Not all products are low fat. Some higher fat items are on the list because of their superior quality and taste.” Everything in moderation…and a glass of wine.
The Detroit Wine Organization (DWO) invites Black Star Farms and winemaker Lee Lutes to serve as Honorary Wine Chair for the 6th Annual Detroit Uncorked, where Black Star Farms is also being honored as the Winery of the Year.
Detroit Uncorked is one of the Midwest’s largest wine events, drawing over 400 wine-lovers to Dearborn’s Ford Conference and Event Center to sample hundreds of wines, great food, live entertainment and a silent auction. Event proceeds benefit The Children’s Center, one of Michigan’s largest providers of services to kids and families in-need. To-date, Detroit Uncorked has raised more than $350,000 for The Children’s Center.
Lee Lutes and Winery Administrator Laura Lawson will be attending the event on September 24th on behalf of Black Star Farms. The event starts at 6pm and concludes at 10 p.m. Black Star Farms will be sampling eight different wines in the General Admission Area and a premium pour for the VIP area.
This year the DWO is shining the spotlight on Michigan wineries as well as Michigan craft beers. “We are honored to be named as the winery of the year at this prestigious event with a Michigan wine feature. It is great to be in the spotlight alongside the previous winners from California and other well-known wine regions,” notes Lee Lutes, Head
Winemaker at Black Star Farms.
Detroit Wine Organization is a non-profit organization with nearly 4,000 members. The organization hosts wine tasting and instructional activities throughout the year aimed at promoting the understanding and enjoyment of wine. All proceeds from events benefit local children’s charities. Membership is free. For more information, please visit www.detroitwine.org, or call 248-504-1962.
We would like to declare September as Pinot Noir month. To us it seems to be the perfect early fall weather wine. Cooler temperatures, colorful leaves, baked squash, apples, and everything else that signifies the onset of autumn make us think of this variety. As a medium-bodied red it is the perfect choice to accompany many fall inspired recipes. We recommend roasted turkey, duck, or pheasant paired with wild rice and butternut squash on the side.
Winemaker Lee Lutes’ passion for Pinot Noir shows in the four different varieties we have on sale. Those include, 2007 A Capella Pinot Noir, the 2007 Isidor’s Choice Pinot Noir, the 2008 Arcturos Pinot Noir, and the newly released 2009 Pinot Noir. We are currently offering a 20% off on both the Isidor’s Choice and the 2009 Pinot Noir. Call 231.944.1270 to order or order on-line and enter PNSALE in the special instructions link.
The 2007 A Capella Pinot Noir was also recently reviewed on thetastespot.com. View the short review:
The stars have been aligned for us this month. Our 2008 Arcturos Cabernet Franc was the overall winner in this year’s Harding’s Cup Challenge, beating out other Michigan Cab Francs as well as a couple of French challengers.
Check out what Michigan by the Bottle had to say about the competition.
Do you live in Texas and love our wines? If so, we can now ship to you from way up here in Michigan. We are excited to finally share our wines with our fans in Texas. Please let us know if we can assist you with the ordering process.
The wine industry on the Old Mission Peninsula continues to grow in all of the right directions. Read more about it in this great article by Sandra Silfven at the Detroit News. Be sure to view the video as well to learn more from some of the key players involved.
With three Best of Class trophies and a total of seven gold and double gold medals at the recent 2010 Michigan Wine Competition winemaker Lee Lutes is buzzing with excitement. He is proud to be part of a team of individuals that made these awards possible.
“So often in this business the winemaker gets all of the credit when really the credit needs to be distributed to everyone involved in organization. I would like to personally thank all of our staff at Black Star Farms for their supported efforts around these wines. In addition we would like to express appreciation to the growers who consistently produce high quality fruit for us.”
Top award winners from Black Star Farms include:
- Best of Class Dry White: Black Star Farms – 2009 Arcturos Pinot Gris
- Best of Class Semi-Dry White: Black Star Farms – 2009 Arcturos Riesling
- Best of Class Sparkling Wine: Black Star Farms – 2008 Sparkling Wine
- Double Gold: 2007 A Capella Pinot Noir
The Michigan Wine and Spirits Competition is sponsored by the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, which is administered by the Michigan Department of Agriculture. The competition showcases Michigan wines to highly regarded analysts, winemakers and wine writers in the country. The competition is open only to wines produced from Michigan grapes and other fruit. This year forty-four of the state’s 73 wineries entered a record 399 wines.
Judges included five Master Sommeliers, and internationally known authors, winemakers and wine educators. Leading the group through the day was food and wine writer Christopher Cook, who judged at the competition for 12 years before becoming its superintendent in 2001. Cook is also a judge at wine competitions throughout the United States and abroad.
Wines are judged from dry to sweet and from white to red within sweetness level. Younger vintages precede older ones. Awards include, Best of Class, Double Gold, Gold, Silver, Bronze and in select years Judges’ Merit. For more information on the awards and judging process visit the Michigan Wine and Grape Council website.
Lee further states that “We are honored to participate in this annual competition that supports us as winemakers, increases the public and trade about our industry as well as being a vehicle that guides the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council in their efforts to promote the quality of Michigan wines.”
A complete list of medal-winning wines is available online at www.michiganwines.com.
Michigan by the Bottle has also produced this great video covering the awards ceremony. The video includes interviews with the winemakers and loads of fun pictures.
For Consumer Education and Convenience…
Riesling Taste Profile Gets High Marks from Trade and Consumers
The Riesling Taste Profile developed by the International Riesling Foundation (IRF) to help consumers predict the taste inside different bottles of Riesling was met with enthusiasm by both the trade and two separate groups of consumers—those who drink Riesling regularly, and those who had tried Riesling in the past but are not now Riesling consumers.
Those findings came from two related market research projects undertaken by Wine Opinions of St. Helena, CA for the IRF, with results presented by John Gillespie at the Riesling Rendezvous conference in Seattle. The online trade survey involved wholesalers, restaurateurs, retailers, and others, while the two consumer segments were interviewed in online focus groups. The overall purpose of the studies was to determine current perceptions of Riesling in the United States, its potential for growth, opinions about Rieslings from different regions, and the potential value of the Riesling Taste Profile.
The Riesling Taste Profile was developed to create a standardized, consumer-friendly way of knowing what taste to expect in different bottles of Riesling, from dry to sweet and in between. This is determined not by natural residual sugar alone, but by its interplay with acid and pH. Working with wine makers from many countries, with leadership from California wine journalist Dan Berger the IRF developed technical guidelines for four categories (Dry, Medium Dry, Medium Sweet, and Sweet), as well as a simple graphic for consumers to reference on back labels and point of sale materials. Full information about the Riesling Taste Profile, including downloadable graphics, is available at the IRF web site (www.drinkriesling.com).
Although only a small portion of the trade respondents had seen it due to its newness, when shown the graphic more than three-quarters (76%) said it would be helpful to consumers when making a purchase decision, and over half (53%) see it as a useful tool for staff in recommending Rieslings to consumers. This is particularly relevant given the large staff turnover in restaurants especially, but also in retail settings.
Among regular Riesling consumers, the Riesling Taste Profile was well received and considered very helpful, especially for novices not familiar with wine in general and Riesling in particular. Riesling non-drinkers were on balance positive about the Riesling Taste Profile, but expressed some concerns about the accuracy of the system and the possibility it would cheapen the wine’s image. However, given that the major barrier to Riesling trial by non-drinkers remains the perception that Riesling is ONLY a sweet white wine, the Riesling Taste Profile was seen by most respondents as a positive contribution to consumer confidence in purchasing.
The IRF Riesling Taste Profile is appearing on more than 15 million bottles of 2009 vintage Riesling in the U.S. market in 2010, with that number expected to grow substantially in future years. Australia’s Barossa Grape and Wine Association has endorsed the Taste Profile, and many Australian producers are expected to include in on their 2010 vintage wines to be released in the near future. Winemakers in New Zealand and other countries have also adopted it.
In some countries like Germany, at present it cannot be used on wines sold domestically, but Schloss Johannisberg has added it to its wines exported to the U.S. In South Africa, where use on the actual label is also currently prohibited, Paul Cluver Winery is using it on its point-of-sale materials. Samples of the Riesling Taste Profile’s use are shown on the IRF web site, as is a listing of wineries using it.
Additional major findings of the trade study:
- Overall, the trade has great regard for Riesling, and understand its special attributes, versatility, and uniqueness.
- The continuing widespread consumer perception of Riesling as only “a sweet white wine” remains a major barrier which may be overcome by the Riesling Taste Profile and other forms of education.
- German and Alsatian Rieslings are most respected, with California and Australian wines viewed as the least expensive.
- Continuing growth is expected due to increased consumer interest in Riesling and greater awareness of dry Riesling.
Additional conclusions from the consumer focus groups:
- Riesling drinkers buy various styles of Riesling in all price ranges, and see Riesling at all price points as a good value.
- Riesling may benefit from the “ABC” movement (Anything But Chardonnay) spurred largely by the aversion to oaky wines.
- Riesling drinkers consume it for a variety of occasions and at various times of year, especially in warmer seasons; enjoy it with food or along; and appreciate Riesling’s versatility.
- Alsatian Riesling is highly regarded among Riesling drinkers.
The studies are available for free to “Friends of the Foundation”, and for $495 to others. Information about becoming a “Friend of the Foundation” is in the “About Us” section of the IRF web site.
The International Riesling Foundation is the only global organization focused around a single grape variety, and includes a distinguished Board of Directors of more than 30 top Riesling producers from Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States (several states). Its mission is “to increase awareness, trial, and sales of Riesling wines through a comprehensive, integrated system of industry cooperation, research, trade education, and consumer communication.”
Media Contact: Jim Trezise, firstname.lastname@example.org, 585-394-3620