Tonsilarial Sensorial Tutorial

Recalling Steve Martin’s role as Navin Johnson in The Jerk when asked by the wine steward whether he would like another bottle of Chateau Latour, I recall his response: “Yes, but no more 1966, let’s splurge! Bring us some fresh wine! The freshest you’ve got—this year’s. No more of this old stuff.” The steward responsed, “Oui”, and once out of sight, Navin continues, “He doesn’t realize he’s dealing with sophisticated people here.”

Obviously I’m dealing with a sophisticated audience of wine aficienados and would like to delve into the entire wine tasting experience and how it can be taken to a new level. Gathering around friends and family, I have found wine tastings to be a means of comraderie, taste sensations, post graduate levels of intensity and just great fun. Gulping is out along with snobbery and judging, please read “A Hint of Hype, A Taste of Illusion” by Leonard Mlodinow in the Wall Street Journal archives, November 14, 2009. But the best read is “Wine Drinking for Inspired Thinking” by Michael Gelb. In it you’ll find that besides being a health drink, wine can and has been the catalyst for much of creative literature over the centuries. He also describes the seven Ss: SEE, SWIRL, SMELL, SIP, SWALLOW, SAVOR, and SHARE, and I will expand upon these later.

Sip and SavorForty-Five North this past weekend participated in Sip and Savor, the Leelanau Peninsula Vintner’s Association’s (LPVA) event in which each winery was paired with a local restaurant and the chef prepared a meal with a new release. We were very fortunate and were paired with the Bluebird Restaurant’s chef, Shawn Botruff, who prepared a whitefish sushi roll (he called Fishtown Rolls) that, and I am extremely biased, was an eleven out of ten on the taste sensation scale with our pinot gris. Pinot gris descriptors include crisp, racy, with minerality and green apple, and our ’09 is the definition of a pinot gris. Our other new releases would also have paired well with his dish including our dry gewurtztraminer and pinot noir rosé. They will be available soon in the tasting room and online store.

2009 Pinot GrisI have been toying with names and gewurtztraminer, like its cousin riesling, originated in Germany, hence the name “Funf und Vierzig Nord” (German for “45 North”). And the rosé, which is of course a red grape treated as a white, hence “Blanc du Noir” [German for “White from Black”]. These wines will have the Leelanau Peninsula AVA on the labels since 85% of the grapes originated in the LP, but other new releases including riesling (dry and late harvest varieties), sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and cabernet sauvignon will have the American designation because of the amount of juice and grapes from Washington and Napa. Last year’s Michigan harvest was difficult at best with high acid/low sugar grapes that combined well with these other juices of just the opposite acidity and sugar content, falling well below the required 75% level. Labels tell a story and are regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) rules and because of the American descriptor, a vintage year will not be on the label for these. However, we will have a winery code just above the bar code designating the juice location and date. For example, LPYV09 is the code for Leelanau Peninsula, Yakima Valley, 2009.

Steve, Lori, and DavidI must now thank our winemaker, David Hill, for his excellent job in the production of these wines. He is one half chemist, one half taster, and one half winemaker, making him 150% talented. Besides excellent taste in wine, he has excellent taste in women, and he and his wife, Catie, have a new daughter born May 4. Congratulations David and Catie!