Reporter's notebook: Wine merchants, sommeliers pack Michigan Wine Showcase

Daun Page and Jim Lester at the Michigan Wine Showcase. Lester owns Wyncroft Winery in Buchanan and holds his Dry Riesling from Avonlea Vineyard. (Photo by Sandra Silfven)

Daun Page and Jim Lester at the Michigan Wine Showcase. Lester owns Wyncroft Winery in Buchanan and holds his Dry Riesling from Avonlea Vineyard. (Photo by Sandra Silfven)

The trade portion of the Michigan Wine Showcase on Monday afternoon at the Rattlesnake in Detroit was a busy scene, packed with Southeastern Michigan’s top wholesalers, sommeliers, restaurant owners, retail buyers and wine shop owners checking out the local pours.

Jarred Gild, wine buyer at Western Market in Ferndale, was busy taking notes at Verterra’s table. Mary Campbell from Everyday Wine in Ann Arbor was sampling Left Foot Charley; wholesaler John Marasco of Vintage Wine in Roseville chatted up the folks at Brengman Brothers; wine instructor Lee Hershey, who teaches wine classes at Schoolcraft College, sampled Brys Estate; John Jonna and daughter Kristen of Vinology in Ann Arbor and  Vinotecca in Royal Oak parked their glasses in front of Chateau Chantal; and distributor Rick Lopus of Great Lakes Wines kidded Lorenzo Lizarralde of Chateau Aeronautique Winery about hiding his Syrah — “You didn’t think people would believe it, right?”

Jarred Gild of Western Market in Ferndale.

Jarred Gild of Western Market in Ferndale.

Here are some more jottings in my reporter’s notebook:

Left Foot Charley: All the talk at Left Foot Charley is usually Gewurztraminer. It’s still important, but the Island View Vineyard Pinot Blanc surely struts the stuff of fine grape growing and good winemaking. Proprietor-winemaker Bryan Ulbrich poured his unreleased 2012, with its clean, tart, crisp, tropical fruit. His 2012 white blend called Murmur, a mix of Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer, had bright fruit, good aromatics, acidity for balance and a long dry finish. And he still makes one of the best Dry Rieslings in the state.

Shady Lane Cellars: Adam Satchwell, winemaker at Shady Lane Cellars, poured a lush 2011 Gewurztraminer brimming with tangerine, lichee nut, and rosemary. He also poured his 2010 Franc ‘n’ Franc, a perfect marriage of Blaufrankisch (Lemberger) and Cabernet Franc that unites the spice and berried Blaufrankisch with the color, structure and berried flavors of the Cab Franc with help from Merlot. That’s thinking outside the box.

Tabor Hill: The dry reds shined: The Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Winemaker Mike Merchant has a knack (talent) for consistency.

Brys Estate: Coenraad Stassen’s Naked Chardonny — it’s unoaked — has a special following thanks to the name (and the flavors!), and the 2012 release is like pure fruit cocktail — brimming with pineapple, tart apple, melon and white peach. It would be a shame to add a layer of oak!

Wyncroft: Winemaker and proprietor Jim Lester of the super-premium boutique winery in Buchanan was looking well and his wines also shined. In memory of his late wife Rae Lee, he made a 2011 Chardonnay in the style she preferred — crisp, dry, not heavily oaked like a French Chablis. Of course, his 2008 Chardonnay made in the Burgundian style with tons of French oak and butter was killer too. He grows such amazing fruit in his Avonlea vineyard.


Madeline Triffon of Plum Market, who with Claudia Tyagi masterminded the Showcase, said Plum is about to open a store in Chicago’s Old Town.

Jonathan Boos is the new owner of d.vine wine shop in Livonia. He and sommelier Lori Tepper are big supporters of Michigan wines.

David Gilbert, former chef at Forest Grill in Birmingham, is opening a restaurant with wife Monica Gilbert call Marais in Grosse Pointe that will feature classic French cuisine. It’s at the corner of Kercheval and St. Clair. Gilbert is classically trained at Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe. Monica was general manager at Forest Grill. A summer opening is planned.