Saturday, August 6, 2011

Michigan Winery Visit: Tartan Hill Winery

Summer Whites 013Last month's Electric Forest music festival in Rothbury, Michigan, provided a chance not only to catch the great music of bands like String Cheese Incident, but also to sip some tasty wine. A few scant miles away was Tartan Hill Winery. The winery was challenging to find, but once we found the right turn, we were soon headed up the driveway rolling past row upon row of vines.

The winery is just 3.5 miles from Lake Michigan and attracted my attention because they only produce estate grown wines. The production is very small and the wines we tasted didn’t specify a vintage year because several vintages are blended together.


Summer Whites 010The tasting room is a small but comfortable affair. The tastings are $2 for five selections. There is a full spectrum of wines ranging from a dry sparkling wine to a sweet dessert style wine. Beverly Goralski, co-owner with her husband Paul was our server.I was joined by Green Dragon and our friend Willy.

We opened the tasting with Tartan Red, a sparkling wine made with DeChaunac and Pinot Noir. This wine had only a slight fizz to it and seemed to have fallen short of the winemaker’s goal.

We moved next to the Cabernet Franc. This was ruby colored with a light to medium body and some fruitiness. This is a nice, but young Cab Franc that will benefit from some aging.

Cayuga Jazz was the next wine as we moved into the semi-dry selections. Cayuga is a popular grape in the Lake Erie region and is a staple of casual summer wines sipped by boaters around our home area. This wine is blended with a touch of raspberries to make a very refreshing wine. This retails for $14 and is one of the most popular wines at Tartan Hill.

The wines gradually ratcheted up in sweetness as we tried the Seyval Blanc and Semi-Sweet Traminette. Green Dragon and I prefer drier wines, but we were about to cross over to the sweet side and enjoy it!

Summer Whites 011The Semi-Sweet Vignoles had a luscious flavor of grapefruit and pineapple and more character than I was expecting. This wine was the favorite of the day for Green Dragon and Willy. The bottle goes for $13 and we picked one up.

My favorite was next, the Oceana Piper’s White. A Riesling style white, this tastes similar to a German Pies porter, sweet yet refreshing.

The Oceana Piper’s Red is a Marechal Foch but finished in a sweet style. We are Marechal Foch fans, but this one wasn’t for us.

We finished up with Tartan Gold,a blend of Seyval, Vignoles and Vidal Blanc. We expected this to knock us out with sweetness, but surprisingly it had a very nice balance that made this my second favorite. This had a interesting flavor of fresh fruit, but finished with subtlety and finesse.

Tartan Hill has straightforward wines that reward with fresh tastes of unique grapes that thrive in  the Michigan region. Their strength is their sweeter wines that are especially satisfying during the long hot days of summer.

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