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Shady Lane Blue Franc and M. Lawrence “Detroit”

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Michigan by the Bottle’s second “Tweet & Taste Michigan,” held last evening, was by all accounts, a smashing success. Conducted on Twitter and featuring three wines from Shady Lane Cellars, the event drew 54 active participants (3 right here at Gang Central), with over 1000 tweets posted. Kim and I had already tasted and enjoyed these three wines last November with Shady Lane winemaker/vineyard manager Adam Satchwell, and the 2008 Dry Riesling and 2007 Pinot Noir were much as we remember. The Riesling is a solid, straightforward representation of what dry Riesling ought to be, while the Pinot is a pretty little middleweight that offers charming varietal character. But it was the 2008 Blue Franc that really caught my attention and focus, for a variety of reasons.

As previously reported, Blue Franc is the literal translation of the German Blaufrankish, and can only be made from Lemberger, according to the ATF. Adam’s uncle, Jed Steele trademarked the name for his Shooting Star label, and allows only Shady Lane to use it. Neither Blaufrankish nor Lemberger are household names, even in geeky wine circles, and I wanted to expand upon the brief snapshop impression that I captured last November.

2008 Shady Lane Cellars Leelanau Peninsula Blue Franc, 12.3% alc., $22.00: Showing clean, dark color, and a little shy on the nose, giving but a peek at the earthy black currant, blackberry and blueberry character found in the ample flavors. Medium-full bodied, with a solid structural backbone, this has the stuffing to age and develop for five years, no sweat. A bit more blueberry emerges with air, along with a subtle leathery undertone, but it is the earthy quality that really sets the tone to the wine . Not only one of the best, but also one of the most interesting reds we’ve had from Michigan to date, and one that we’ll be intrigued to watch develop with some time in the cellar. Find this wine

I would be remiss in not mentioning the delightful sparkler that we got things started with, admittedly outside the strict parameters of the tasting, but well within the general Michigan theme. Larry Mawby has been making sparkling wines from Leelanau Peninsula grapes since 1978. He produces wines under two labels; L. Mawby sparkling wines are made using the methode champenoise, and are aged in the bottle before disgorging, with many cuvees being given 3 or more years of tirage aging, while M. Lawrence sparkling wines are produced in the cuve close method, are given less aging, and are less costly than the method champenoise sparkling wines. One well-placed Traverse City area participant last night lamented that he didn’t yet have access to this just released M. Lawrence bottling, but our good friend Sharlan Douglas found it readily available at Royal Oak’s Holiday Market at the listed price.

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M. Lawrence “Detroit” Sparkling Wine Demi-Sec NV, 12% alc., $13.99: Showing medium color, and a fine, fairly active bead, and abundantly fruit forward, offering ripe red and green apple flavors and aromas with a bit of residual sugar to brighten things up even more. Medium-to-medium-full bodied, with zippy acidity and eminently quaff-able, this will make for some excellent summertime enjoyment. “A blend of Traminette, Riesling and Cauyga grapes that are hand picked and carefully whole-cluster pressed. The juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks, then fermented a second time in a closed tank [the cuve close method]. The wine is then filtered, dosaged, and bottled.” Find this wine

Kudos to Michigan by the Bottle’s Shannon and Cortney Casey, and also to Adam Satchwell and the fine folks at Shady Lane Cellars. This was another great “Tweet & Taste Michigan,” and we’re greatly looking forward to the next one. Interested readers can find the archived transcript of this event here.

Reporting from Day-twah,

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Related posts:

  1. Tweet & Taste Redux with Shady Lane Cellars
  2. Tasting Leelanau: Shady Lane Cellars

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