Tasting

2011 Wines Receive Medals at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

The Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLWIC) is noted as the “world’s largest charitable wine competition” with a truly international diversity of wines and judges.  Wines from all over the world and from each of the 50 states are judged at this event.

All of the entries are evaluated by a world-renowned panel of judges representing distributors, educators, enologists, sommeliers, restaurateurs, winemakers and writers.  These diversified experts came from all over the United States and around the world.

Throughout the competition, each wine is judged on its own merit – its presence, balance and varietal character.  Wines are blind judged and all wines are presented to the judges in Riedel crystal stemware.  Medals are awarded for the unanimous Double Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze winning wines and all award winning wines are featured here.

Black Star Farms’ wines to receive medals include:

Double Gold:

2011 Arcturos Pinot Noir

2011 Arcturos Riesling

Gold:

2011 Arcturos Barrel Chardonnay

 Silver:

2011 Arcturos Dry Riesling

2011 Arcturos Cabernet Franc

2011 Tribute Riesling

 Bronze:

2011 Arcturos Late Harvest Riesling

2011 Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay

All net proceeds from the competition benefit Camp Good Days and Special Times.  Located in the heart of New York State’s Finger Lakes wine country, this not-for-profit organization is dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, adults and families whose lives have been touched by cancer and other life-threatening challenges.

For more information check out the FLIWC video.

All information for this blog entry has been obtained directly from the FLWIC press release pages.

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A Tribute to the Montague Estate Vineyard

The Wineries of Black Star Farms are a unique operation in that more than 90% of its fruit is sourced from growers who have an ownership interest in the winery, in addition to their vineyards. These “wine growers” have sites that are well suited on both the Old Mission and the Leelanau peninsulas. It is from these quality sites that we are able to consistently source high quality fruit for our wines. To honor these growing partners we have created a new label that we’ve named Tribute.  These are premium wines that showcase the superior nature of these vineyard sites, and are exemplary of the vintage from which they were created.

The first Tribute wine is from the Montague Estate Vineyard on the Old Mission Peninsula. Located approximately 6 miles north of Traverse City off of M-37 this vineyard is home to Riesling, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Blanc, Regent and Dornfelder. The 56 acres of land on this site are comprised of vineyards (14 acres) and natural areas protected under a conservation easement.  The current owners Jay and Marie Hooper purchased the property in 1996 and began planting vines in 1999. The first small harvest followed in 2001 and they’ve been at it ever since.

“The property itself has quite a history beginning with Mr. Amos Montague for whom the vineyard and road it sits on is named after,” says Marie Hooper. Marie further provided insight into the ownership timeline that followed Mr. Montague and included two other individuals. “The original house and old barn foundation are still on site,” explains Marie. There have been renovations done but the Hoopers have kept most of the original flooring and woodwork. The beauty of their home is an integral part of the art on this label and was painted by local artist Christopher Smith.

The vineyards are planted on the higher elevation points on the property and are thus more suited to growing grapes. The advantages of where they are located include better water drainage and air flow (less chance of frost) as well as increased sunlight because they are both Northeast and Northwest facing slopes. Vineyards are managed by Jeremy Hooper who can be seen riding around in the “Grapes of Wrath Rover.” Invented by Jeremy this vehicle helps him move around in the vineyard rows when he is pruning and maintaining the vines.

“It has always been our dream to have a wine label and with the grower partnership we have with Black Star Farms it has become a dream come true,” says Jay Hooper who is also honored that this wine is the first one in this series.

Tribute to the Montague Estate Vineyard ($18/btl) is a dry Riesling from the 2011 vintage. There are citrus and stone fruits aromas followed by very subtle minerality. Fresh apple, orange and apricot fruit flavors combine with a hint of spice for a crisp and refreshing finish. It is a delightful wine well suited for many occasions. It is available for sale in our tasting rooms or by calling 231.944.1270.

 

 

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Leorie Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc

Is wine “made in the vineyard?” Winemakers and viticulture experts often agree to disagree on this topic. Head Winemaker Lee Lutes generally believes that it is the symbiotic relationship of viticulture and oenology that make for a phenomenal wine.

“Walk with me”…says Lutes on a crisp fall afternoon while visiting the magical Leorie Vineyard on Old Mission Peninsula. This vineyard is home to the Merlot and Cabernet Franc that make the distinguished Leorie Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc. A brief bit of history ensues as we journey through the rolling hills overlooking West Grand Traverse Bay.

In its olden days this 15 acre plot was a gravel pit built into the hillside. When it was purchased 30 years ago its amphitheater shape was originally designed for development. However, with the assistance of local vintner Bernie Rink the owner was convinced of its prime suitability to grow grapes. What followed was the planting of Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  The 15 year old Riesling and Cabernet Franc are located at the bottom half of the hill preceded by the 20 year old Merlot at the very top. The entire plot faces South West, another added advantage for growing red grape varietals in a cool climate. “The directional element and hillside placement provide numerous benefits for these grapes,” notes Lutes as we continue to walk through the rows of meticulously cared for vines.

Facing South West this site typically retains heat and provides more insulation to the vines. The benefits of this are two-fold, one being that it warms the soil earlier in the season and reduces the risk of frost damage and the other being that it extends the growing season further into the fall. Both of these maximize the total growing degree days, a much needed strategy for growing Merlot and Cabernet Franc in a cool climate.

“Have you ever stood at the top of a hill and felt as if the air was warmer?” asks Lutes. Being on the hill is advantageous throughout the growing season because it results in more heat than being at the bottom. In this vineyard the average difference from top to bottom is typically 15o – 20o with the hottest part being at the top where the Merlot is located. This is another advantage for growing this varietal in our region.

Lutes picks up a handful of the gravel soil and proceeds to explain how this course and porous soil provides better drainage and helps keep the vines “feet” dry throughout the season. He also notes that this soil type is very similar to that of vineyards sites in the Bordeaux region of France.

While standing on the hillside overlooking West Bay, Lutes elaborates more about the exceptional care this vineyard receives and how this in addition to all of the above leads to the birth of his prized red wine. “When these grapes arrive at the winery they are never diseased, they are ripe (often averaging 23-24 brix) and they are picture perfect. It is then the skillful job of our winemaking team to take it to the next level.”

The grapes are individually batch fermented and blended the following spring. The wine is left to meld and age for 12-16 months in new and nearly new American, French and European oak barrels. This wine is very reminiscent of a Bordeaux style blend with a higher percentage of Merlot than Cabernet Franc. The end result being a full-bodied red wine rich with dark berry fruit flavors, earthy spice and complementary oak.

When asked again if he believes that a wine is made in the vineyard, Lutes nods his head and says, “A wine may be conceived and born in a vineyard but it is carefully raised and aged in the winery.”

Double Golds for Black Star Farms’ Arcturos Rieslings

Arcturos Rieslings Win Awards at One of the Oldest Wine Competitions in the United States

Black Star Farms is proud to be part of a wine region that has continued to receive accolades for its quality wines and food destinations. The winery is honored to announce four new awards received at the 36th annual Eastern International Wine Competition.  

The International Eastern Wine Competition (IEWC) is one of the oldest and largest professional wine competitions in the United States. Judges were comprised of the most experienced and unique pool of wine industry professionals. Wines were judged from a field of over 800 wines. Judges awarded a total of 15 Double Gold, 73 Gold, 216 Silver, and 235 Bronze medals.

Two of the Double Golds were awarded to Black Star Farms’ Rieslings, including the 2010 Arcturos Dry Riesling and the 2010 Arcturos Riesling (semi-sweet). Other wines to receive medals include the 2010 Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay and the 2010 Arcturos Late Harvest Riesling – both awarded silvers.

“It’s always an honor to be recognized for the quality of our region. 2010 was certainly an exemplary vintage showcasing many of the best attributes of Riesling growing in this climate. These medals will further raise the standards by which we continue to create our wines.” – Lee Lutes, Head Winemaker

For more information about the IEWC including the full list of awards click here.

Taste the Passion Recipes

Recipe for Spirit of Raspberry Royal

Recipe for Molten Chocolate Cakes  – Serves 4

  • 1/2 c butter – cut into chunks
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 eggs, separate yolks and whites
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F spray four – 6 to 8 ounce ramekins and dust the insides with granulated white sugar. In a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and set aside.          

-With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla extract and then fold in the melted chocolate mixture.                               

 -In a clean bowl whip the egg whites until frothy. Slowly add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and whip just until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula gently fold the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, just until incorporated. Do not over mix or the batter will deflate. -Divide the batter between the prepared molds. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the outside edges of the cakes are set but the middle still looks moist.  Remove from oven and cakes can be served in the ramekins or popped out and served on a plate. 

Award Winning Macaroni and Cheese at Black Star Farms

Executive Chef Jonathan Dayton created the most fabulous macaroni and cheese at last weekend’s Great Macaroni and Cheese Bake-Off. Their unique and savory creation was a Baked Macaroni with Leelanau Cheese and Lamb Shoulder Confit. It was topped with toasted pine nuts and house made roasted garlic basil oil (a recipe is below). Only 30 votes separated the top three restaurants, with The Cooks’ House and Jolly Pumpkin in 2nd and 3rd.

Chef Jonathan is always creating culinary magic in the recently renovated kitchen at the Inn at Black Star Farms. Inn guests are delighted at his gourmet breakfasts and hospitality hour hors d’oeuvres.  His artfully prepared dishes inspire one to savor each bite.

Dinners are also offered at the Inn on select Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and are open to the public. Meals are prepared from ingredients grown or raised on the farm or sourced from within a 100 mile radius. A complete list of dates can be found on our website calendar. For more information or to make a dinner reservation please call the innkeeper at 231.944.1251.

Baked Macaroni with Leelanau Cheese and Lamb Shoulder Confit

Lamb shoulder

1 lamb shoulder roast, netting removed

½ cup kosher salt

¼ cup fresh ground black pepper

5 dried bay leaves crushed

8 cloves garlic crushed

6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

6-8 cups duck fat, lamb fat, lard or extra virgin olive oil -Cure the lamb shoulder

Trim lamb into 4-6 pieces. Rub the meat with the salt, pepper and bay leaves and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

Marinate the lamb

Rinse the lamb of the salt mixture and dry well. Place in a clean bowl with the rest of the mix and incorporate. Cover again and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

Confit the lamb

Place lamb in a large enough pot/dutch oven so there is at least 4 inches of space between the meat and top of the rim. Cover meat with the chosen fat or olive oil and bring to a temperature where you see just a few bubbles rising, the key being to cook at a very low temperature at a slow pace. This can also be done in an oven at around 225F. Cook the lamb for 8-12 hours until the meat is soft and almost falling apart to the touch. Cool the meat on the counter at room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Roasted garlic basil oil

12 cloves garlic

4 cups extra virgin olive oil

½ pound fresh basil cleaned and de-stemmed roast garlic on stove top at medium until garlic rises to the top. Pull off burner and let cool to room temperature. Bring 2-3 quarts of water to a boil and drop basil in for 10-15 seconds. Pour into colander and then ice bath the basil immediately. Dry basil well by pressing with kitchen towel until all moisture is absorbed. Use multiple towels if necessary. Add basil and roasted garlic oil in blender and puree well. Place oil in refrigerator for 12 hours. Strain the oil thru some cheesecloth into a container and then pour into a squeeze bottle.

Macaroni and cheese

1/2-pound macaroni

3 tablespoons lamb fat

3 tablespoons flour

½ cup leeks

3 cloves roasted garlic

3 cups milk

6 oz. fromage blanc

6 oz. raclette

2-3 cups lamb confit

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

¼ cup panko

1-tablespoon butter

In a large pot of boiling salted water cook pasta al dente. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot warm the lamb fat over medium heat and add leeks. Caramelize the leeks stirring frequently for 4 -6 minutes. Whisk in the flour and garlic, keep the mixture moving for about 5 minutes to create your roux. Make sure it is free of any lumps. Whisk in the milk and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Incorporate the cheese until melted. Fold in your pasta and lamb confit and season to taste. Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish. Melt butter in a saucepan and add panko and pine nuts to coat. Top the macaroni with the panko pine nut crust and bake for 30 minutes at 300F. Cut and plate garnishing with the roasted garlic basil oil.

A Taste of Northern Michigan Spirits

We are pleased to add Grand Traverse Distillery as a co-licensee at TASTES and are now able to add their grain-based distilled products to our fruit based brandies to offer visitors a “taste” of Northern Michigan distilled products.

Grand Traverse Distillery has won numerous national awards for their small batch wheat and rye-based vodkas, cherry and chocolate flavored vodkas and their Ole George 100% rye whiskey.

Learn more about Michigan distilled products by stopping to sample our extensive line of spirits. There is a $5 fee for tasting any three spirits.

For the connoisseur and collector of fine barrel aged spirits we provide the opportunity to make your own whiskey. We stock empty barrels in 1, 2 and 3 liter sizes, and you can pick from among five un-aged spirits. These include two styles of bourbon, a 100% rye as well as Irish or Scotch blends. Simply fill your barrel, age to your taste and amaze your friends with your own distinctive spirit.

TASTES of Black Star Farms is housed in one of North America’s largest and most innovative redevelopment projects – the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. They are open:

Sunday from 12 to 4 pm

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 am to 7 pm

Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 9 p.m

For more information please call 231.944.1349.

Pear and its Spirit

Many of our visitors are curious how we get the pear in the bottle of the Pear and its Spirit brandy. The process begins in the spring when the bottles are tied over budding branches with hopes that a Bartlett pear will grow to maturity inside the bottle.

This year we were able to visit Delight of Life Farm and record video of the crew tying the bottles to the trees. In the video below Heather Jordan, owner of Delight of Life Farm, is gently attaching a bottle to the budding branch. Heather explained that they do not tie bottles to every bud; it has to be “just right.” When asked what she meant by this she said the budding branch has to be facing upwards or the pear will not grow well in the bottle and the bottle is also more likely to fall off the tree.

The pear is harvested inside the bottle, cleaned and washed, and the bottle is then filled with pear brandy from the same orchard and hand labeled in a special limited presentation. The pear will calcify over time as long as it is covered with the brandy. It is important to replace the brandy with our Spirit of Pear brandy when it gets close to uncovering the pear.

Pear and Its Spirit truly captures the essence of Northern Michigan fruit. The balance of fruit and alcohol reflects both the artisan skill of the distiller and the quality of the fruit. The resulting clear Pear and its Spirit delivers an explosion of succulent pear aroma and taste, rich flavor with a dry and elegant after taste.

To learn more ask about this product in our tasting room during your next visit visit to our tasting rooms up north.

An Engaging Offer at TASTES of Black Star Farms

Recent proposal trends about when and where to pop the question show that women really do not want the event to take place in an elaborate setting followed by a lavish dinner.  Instead they are likely to be pleased with something romantic and traditional that doesn’t break the bank.

TASTES of Black Star Farms offers all of the above and is just the right spot in Traverse City. Located in the uniquely historic Village at Grand Traverse Commons TASTES has the right ambience to make the moment memorable. Guests can start the evening off with wine sampling at the bar followed by a wonderful Matterhorn Grill dinner planned for two. TASTES offers private seating areas with warm lighting to capture the mood perfectly. After the big question a celebration is in order and can include Black Star Farms’ Be Dazzled sparkling wine paired with dessert.  

Affordable, unique, and with just the right amount of room to get down on one knee, TASTES is a great location to propose. For pricing information or to make a reservation please call Kevin Culloty at 231.944.1349.

The Matterhorn Grill Dinner is a simple and traditional European-style meal of Leelanau Cheese Company’s award-winning raclette cheese melted and poured over a selection of table-top grilled meat, sausages, potatoes, seasonal vegetables, apples, and hearth-baked bread.

TASTES is open Tuesday & Wednesday from noon to 7 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 9 p.m., and on Sunday, noon-4 p.m. The tasting bar offers samples and retail sales of the full range of Black Star Farms’ wines.  Small plates, both savory and sweet, pair well with wine samples by the glass. After 5pm, Matterhorn Grill dinners are served featuring Leelanau Cheese Company cheese and wine samples. Seating for groups of 2-18 is limited, and reservations are necessary.

Be Dazzled: Presented by Winemaker Lee Lutes

It’s the holidays and that calls for a festivity or two, making this “the time of year where sparkling wine should be everywhere, on every table, and at every setting” says Lee Lutes head winemaker here at Black Star Farms.  A bottle of bubbly is always a good choice when hosting or attending a party.

We recommend choosing an off-dry style that will please many palates as well as a dynamic range of dishes. Our 2009 Be Dazzled is made in this style and lends itself to being a great party wine at very affordable price. Learn more about this wine from Lee in the short video below.  Save 20% on the Be Dazzled with our featured monthly coupon or pick up one of the special holiday splits available for only $8.50 in all of our tasting rooms (please note the monthly coupon doesn’t apply to these).