Gems in My Glass . . . August 2015

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Mid-America

Hybrid, native American, fruit wines and more at the 2015 Mid-American Wine Competition

The 2015 Mid-American Wine Competition in Des Moines, Iowa once again opened the eyes and minds of judges as to the merits of wines crafted from native American grapes, hybrid grapes and other fruits.  If you have not delved into wines of this ilk, it is high time you did!  And that’s not all; Gold medals were also awarded to wines produced in mid America from vinifera vines.  The competition is open to commercial wineries of Arkansas, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Those that spoke gratifyingly to my palate included:

Calico Skies Vineyard and Winery 2013 Geisenheim; American AVA, produced in Iowa:  This highly aromatic wine, crafted from the spunky white hybrid grape Geisenheim (a cross of Riesling and Chancellor), unveils a satisfying dose of sweetness.  Lovely floral scents lead to tangerine, apple and stone fruit laced with fresh squeezed Meyer lemon and a sprinkling of herbs elegantly caressing the palate.  A texturally smooth, smartly balanced wine.  SRP:  $16

Easley Winery 2014 Traminette; American AVA, produced in Indiana:   Traminette (a cross of Gewurztraminer and French American hybrid Joannes Seyve 23.416) can be gloriously expressive on the nose, like this one with honeysuckle and spice that mesmerize you before the wine graces your lips.  Guava, pineapple and orange zest entwine with spice components titillating the palate, and the wine continues to captivate through the lifted finish.  Bright, breezy and simply delectable.    SRP: ~$15

Soldier Creek Winery 2014 Brianna; Iowa:  Imagine collecting a basketful of fragrant flowers, setting out a tray of tasty bites and sipping wine in the backyard on a sun-speckled summer afternoon.  Refreshing and pure with loads of juicy tropical fruit at the core, this sweet Brianna (a cold climate hybrid grape) with a lively personality and delicate floral notes is a wise choice for your picture perfect afternoon; yummy.  SRP:  $20

Wollersheim Winery NV Prairie Blush; Wisconsin:  Reminiscent of a French dry rosé, this semi-dry blush crafted from 100% Marechal Foch grapes boasts a brilliant, electrifying rose-colored hue.   Flavors of strawberry pie, raspberry sorbet and hints of pink grapefruit fill the mouth.  Pure and refreshing with lively acidity; a lovely pairing for a relaxing Sunday brunch.  SRP:  $10

Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery NV Valvin Muscat; Kansas:  Holy-Field Winery has captured the essence of this fragrant grape. Showing off exotic aromas and flavors of a fresh floral bouquet, summer peaches and creamy Bartlett pears, it is mouthwateringly delicious.   Satin smooth with lively acidity and nicely sweet without being cloying, it makes for a divine summer sipper lazing out by the pool.  SRP:  ~$10

Ardon Creek Vineyard & Winery NV “Commission Man Red” Noiret; Iowa:  I often tout this spunky grape variety which has long been a favorite of mine, and here is a terrific, well-knit example.  Classic multi-colored peppercorn aromas tell you plenty up front.  That dramatic spice component and subtle oak nuances meld with fresh blackberries, plums and raspberries at the core, building on the palate to a wildly flavorful finale.  SRP:  $12.99

Apple Barn Orchard and Winery NV Strawberry Jewel; Wisconsin:  Summertime in a glass!  Engaging flavors of ripe, sweet strawberries (from their homegrown patch) with highlights of juicy tangerine and a squeeze of lemon juice refresh the palate.  Pair this gem with a fresh mixed fruit salad atop tender butter lettuce for a tasty mid-day treat. SRP:  $13.95

Oliver Winery and Vineyards NV “Soft Red”; Indiana:  This semi-sweet, juicy wine, made from the native American Concord grape, is well named.  It is lush, round, and soft on the palate with a bucket load of flavor.  Grapey and satisfying with pretty fruit at the core, it simply shines with purity and balance.   SRP:  $7.50

L. Mawby “Tradition” NV Cuvee Brut; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Yeasty aromas greet the nose and pave the way for a most enchanting Methode Champenoise sparkling wine produced from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.  Crisp Anjou pear, fresh lemon-lime and sautéed apples flecked with cinnamon dance with spirited acidity on the palate.  The impressive tiny bead of bubbles entertains the eye and the tongue through the persistent finish.  SRP: $21

Cedar Ridge Vineyards NV LaCrosse; Iowa:   Pretty floral notes peak your interest as this snappy LaCrosse (a light skinned hybrid grape) assuredly shows its stuff.  Flavors of creamy pears, green apple skin, a touch of herbs, nectarines and hints of vanilla taffy are ever so fresh in the mouth, and the balance is spot on.   SRP:  $13.99

Calico Skies Vineyard and Winery 2013 Frontenac; Iowa:  Here is a cool climate Frontenac that offers up black currant, black cherry and dried cranberries on the nose and through the spice driven, oak-nuanced palate.  Texturally round and lush mid palate, it displays an easy to quaff quality about it all the way through the final sip; very nicely made.  SRP:  $18.95

If your wine tasting portfolio hasn’t expanded beyond vinifera varieties (such as Cab, Chard, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Riesling, among others), why not reach out and give hybrid, native American varieties and fruit wines a spin?  You’ll most likely be intrigued, expand your wine knowledge, and don’t be surprised if you find a few new favorites!

Gems in My Glass . . . July 2014

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Mid-America, Tasting Notes (2 Comments)

2014 Mid American Wine Competition

It was my pleasure to judge the 2014 Mid American Wine Competition in Des Moines Iowa, and there was plenty to brag about when the judging was done.   Grapes that have long been grown here, as well as more recently planted hybrids that have further developed over the past several years, delivered in spades.  The following were among my favorite gold medal winners:

Snus Hill Vineyard & Winery NV Blushing Claire; Iowa:  This 95% La Crescent and 5% Chambourcin Rose blend earned the Best Rose Wine Award and the Dick Peterson Best Iowa Appellation Award at this year’s competition.  Aromas reminiscent of strolling through a field of fresh strawberries electrify the senses and get the juices flowing.  Flavors of sweet, fresh strawberries and raspberries and a dash of spice merge together on the palate with lively acidity.  Precisely balanced and vibrant through the focused finish; simply charming.  SRP:  $15

Illinois Sparkling Company NV Dollface Rosé Hieland Hills Vineyard; St. Anne, Illinois:  The brilliant deep pink hue and tiny stream of bubbles capture your eye; here is a dazzling Methode Champenoise Sparkling Rose crafted from Frontenac.  The alluring aroma pulls you into the glass and your palate is rewarded with bright pomegranate and sweet, cocoa dusted cherry flavors interlacing with pie spice and citrusy accents.  This is an energetic and well balanced elixir with a deft touch of sweetness.  SRP: $32

Illinois Sparkling Company NV Stereo; ISC Estate Vineyard, Peru, Illinois: This La Crescent based sparkling wine is lively with enticing floral and tropical fruit aromas wafting from the glass.  Bursting forth on the palate are layers of fresh ripe pineapple, quince jam and citrus notes along with subtle earthy nuances.  The 2.3% residual sugar is well placed; an artfully crafted bubbly.  SRP:  $32

The Winery at Versailles NV Hunter Red; Ohio:  Here’s a classic, well-crafted Concord (Native American grape) wine that showcases yummy grape jelly and candied grape aromas and flavors through and through.  It is lively and well balanced with beautiful purity and freshness and the finish is bright and long lasting; delicious.   SRP:  $9.99

Wooden Wheel Vineyards NV Private G.W.; Keota, Iowa:  This dry Marquette displays fresh, juicy fruit aromas that pave the way for the succulent cherry, plum and raspberry fruit delightfully unraveling on the palate.  Well balanced and pleasing with hints of mixed freshly ground pepper spice chiming on the back palate through the smooth, satisfying finish.   SRP:  $18

Summerset Winery NV De Chaunac; Indianola, Iowa:   Here is a deeply hued French-American red hybrid wine that boasts aromas of dark fruits and a hint of savory spice.  Compelling and full flavored with succulent black grapes, wild berries and mulberry jam swirling tastily on the palate.  The alcohol level is restrained at 9.9%, leaving the wine well balanced, clean and very easy to quaff.  SRP:  $16

Summerset Winery NV Concord; Indianola, Iowa:  One whiff of this joyful wine leaves no doubt that Concord wine adorns the glass.   Grape jelly fills the palate and you’re taken back to your childhood memories of grape juice and grape jelly enhanced peanut butter sandwiches.  Delectably juiciness, this wine will leave you with a smile.  SRP:  $12

Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery NV Tailgate Red; Kansas:  A sassy blend of Chambourcin and St. Vincent, this wine oozes with ripe blackberries and black cherries from the inviting aroma through the rich, spice bejeweled palate; fully engaging.  The touch of sweetness plays in tune with offsetting acidity and the tannins are refined, a satisfying, balanced package.  SRP:  $10.95

Falling Waters Winery NV Raging River Red; Wisconsin/Michigan:  Falling Waters Winery is located in Wisconsin, and the grapes from this wine were grown in Michigan. This expressive blend of 45% Marechal Foch, 30% De Chaunac and 25% Rougeon opens with sweet ripe cherry and wild berry fruit with hints of vanilla that are echoed on the juicy palate.  Nicely crafted with an appealing sweetness that lingers on the aftertaste.  SRP:  $13

Oliver Winery & Vineyards 2013 Gewürztraminer; Monroe County, Indiana:  Wow, the jasmine and spice aromas of this semi-dry Gewürz will put you in a heavenly frame of mind. On the palate, layers of sweet pineapple, grapefruit, lychee nuts and hints of ginger spice unfold gloriously.  A delicate, expressive, well structured wine with a finish that lingers on and on.  SRP:  $11

Wollersheim Winery 2013 Prairie Fume; New York/Wisconsin:  The grapes for this wine are grown in New York and you’ll find their tasting room in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin.  This wonderfully aromatic semi-dry Seyval Blanc with a nice touch of sweetness is captivating.  The effusive fruity aromas that heighten the senses are echoed in the mouth with vibrant flavors of ripe nectarine, guava and candied citrus peel.    The wine is velvety smooth and elegant with good depth and length.  SRP:  $9

St. James Winery 2013 Vignoles; Ozark Highlands, Missouri:    Lavish scents of sun kissed tropical fruit rise from the glass. Abundant flavors of sweet fresh pineapple, melon, peach and mango and citrusy accents unfold beautifully on the palate.  Lovely purity and a racy kick of acidity join the sumptuous fruit, creating a splendid package from start to finish.  SRP:  $14.99

Dubuque Heritage Winery NV Eagle Point White; Iowa:  From grapes grown in the Upper Mississippi Valley AVA, this impressive wine earned the Best White Wine award at this year’s competition.  Crafted of La Crescent, it greets the nose with enticing citrus blossom aromas.  Frolicking on the palate are vivid flavors of tree ripened peaches, apricots, guava nectar and a splash of lemon-lime soda.  Upbeat and well balanced with the 5.5% residual sugar offset by invigorating acidity; well crafted.

Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery 2013 Marquette; Illinois:  This sassy dry red wine crafted of 90% Marquette and 10% Pinot Noir showcases a nice earthy, spicy nose.   Coating the mouth are appetizing flavors of blackberry and black cherry with tea spice accents.  Medium bodied and carefully crafted with an attractive aftertaste that lingers persistently.  SRP:  $19.99

Elmaro Vineyard NV La Crescent; Trempealeau, Wisconsin: The tantalizing aroma of this La Crescent with 8% Pepin blended in reels you straight into the glass.  The elevated entry is bright and leads to juicy pineapple, guava and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice taking center stage on the palate.  The 1.5% residual sugar adds a nice touch of sweetness, the texture is silky smooth, and the balance is spot on through the elegant finish.  SRP:  $14

Crooked Post Winery NV Valvin Muscat; Kansas:  Pretty floral notes scintillate the senses and the wine enters with a spicy personality.  The palate is resplendent with flavors of sweet mandarin oranges and peaches enhanced with hints of ginger spice and lemon zest. Effectively restrained in alcohol at 8%, this is a lively semi-sweet sipper.  SRP:  $16

In an animated discussion over a sip or two of award winning wines, my fellow judges and I agreed wholeheartedly that the level of quality crafted from Mid American wine producers has risen tremendously over the past 7 years.  Give it a whirl, and discover for yourself which hybrid grapes suit your fancy; your taste buds and enlightened minds will thank you.


Gems in My Glass . . . July 2013

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Mid-America, Tasting Notes


Take a stroll down wine trails in Mid-America to unleash some deliciously refreshing and well-made wines from the center of the USA.    I recently judged the Mid-American Wine Competition at the DMACC campus in Des Moines, Iowa, and walked away with a very positive impression of wines being produced here that you really ought to sip for yourself.  Here are some of the top scoring wines I judged at the competition, all Gold Medal Winners at this year’s MAWC:

Amigoni Urban Winery 2011 Estate Cabernet Franc, Kansas City Missouri:  Here is an impressive dry red wine crafted from 100% Cab Franc grown in Amigoni’s vineyard in Centerview Missouri.  Gorgeous expression of fruit is showcased from start to finish.   Berries and underlying green pepper aromas proudly announce Cab Franc in the glass.  Round and lush on the palate with flavors of fresh cherry preserves, vanilla, and wild berries accented with savory spice.  Precisely balanced with smooth tannins enhancing the delicious package.  SRP:  $22

Mountain Grove Cellars 2012 Pink Catawba; Missouri:   This pleasantly sweet Catawba is produced from grapes grown at the Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station at Missouri State University.  Distinctive foxy aromas clearly shout out Catawba (an American hybrid grape variety thought to be a cross of native American Vitis labrusca and another Vitis species).  Floral notes meld expressively with strawberries and watermelon candy and a splash of citrus on the palate.  This wine is beautifully fresh with a lovely balance of fruit and acidity. The finish is bright and clean, a well-crafted, satisfying quaff.    SRP:  ~$16

Oliver Winery 2010 Zinfandel:   The winery, located in Bloomington Indiana, sources the fruit for this succulent Zinfandel predominately from Lodi, California.   A touch of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are blended in for added dimension.   A brilliant hue and concentrated ripe berry aromas capture the senses.    Sweet jammy fruit broadens on the palate with nutmeg and a dash of cinnamon.  Oh so juicy through the lingering finish; this fruit driven Zin will put a smile on your face.  SRP:  $20

Hinterland Vineyards NV Happy Creek Red, Clara City, Minnesota:  This sassy semi-sweet red wine is crafted of 100% Frontenac grapes from their estate Hinterland Vineyards in Clara City and grapes from Neal Vineyards in Alexandria Minnesota. This fanciful wine offers up a pleasing cherry Kool-Aid aroma that brings me back to my childhood.  Flavors of fresh red cherries and raspberries unfold on the palate with hints of fruity tisane herbal tea highlights.  Lively, fresh and satisfying with sweet fruit nicely offset by lively acidity.  SRP:   $12.95

Stonehaus Farms Winery 2011  Strother Ridge Cynthiana, Lee’s Summit, Missouri:  From grapes grown in Lee’s Summit, Missouri comes this luscious, sweet Cynthiana with gobs of juicy berries captivating the nose and the palate.  The texture is rich and smooth and the striking acidity ensures there is nothing cloying here.  Enticing toasty notes speak to the French oak aging.  Brown spice and vanilla bean accents add depth and linger on the finish, simply delightful.    SRP:  $15

Noboleis Vineyards 2012 Steepleview Hybrid blend; Augusta, Missouri:  From grapes grown in the Augusta AVA in Missouri comes this remarkable wine crafted primarily from the French/American hybrid grape Chambourcin, blended with Vidal Blanc and a bit of Traminette.   A touch of earthiness joins the forest fruits showcased on the nose, drawing you into the glass.  Bursting vividly on the palate are fresh raspberry, plum and wild blueberry flavors and subtle dried herb notes.  This well-structured wine remains bright and expressive through the lifted finish.   SRP:  $12.99

Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards, NV Bullhead Red; Ames Iowa:  From their thirteen acre vineyard in Ames, Iowa comes this brilliantly hued Catawba.  Opening with  fruity, musky aromas, this well-made Catawba nicely captures the essence of this grape.   Layers of sweet cherries, bubble gum and raspberries unfold delightfully with vibrant acidity, dazzling the palate. The mouth feel is smooth and the finish is equally impressive with good length.  SRP:  $11

Illinois Sparkling Company, NV Bride of Freak of Nature: From their winery in Peru Illinois (their 2nd collaboration with Cleetus Friedman), comes this terrific Sparkling Rose.  It is creatively crafted from Frontenac grapes grown in Illinois with a Freak of Nature Oolong Tea steeped in brandy dosage.  This delicious sparkling wine made in the Methode Champenoise style really rocks.  Inviting aromas command your attention and the incredible balance of cranberry, cherry and raspberry fruit and distinctive Freak of Nature oolong tea buttery notes.   Racy acidity and a touch of residual sugar sends this wine soaring to brilliant heights, wow.  SRP:  $40

Oliver Winery NV Moscato:   Located in Bloomington Indiana, Oliver Winery dates back to the 1960’s. They harvest grapes from their local vineyards and also source fruit from other wine regions.  Fruit for this wine is sourced from California (2012 harvest).    Scents of tropical fruits and fresh flowers lift from the glass with this energetic Moscato.  The entry is slightly effervescent with a nice level of acidity that keeps the sweetness in perfect balance, and the mouth feel is joyful and bright.  Flavors of passion fruit and white peaches continue to unfold through the titillating finish.   SRP:  $10

Cellar 426 NV Uplifting; Ashland Nebraska.  Uplifting is made with 100% Traminette grapes, all grown in Nebraska.  A bouquet of aromatic roses and spice notes fully engage the senses with this beautiful Traminette (you may be more familiar with one of its parents with similar characteristics, Gewurztraminer).  Filling the palate are delicious flavors of fresh cut herbs, tangerines, lemon-lime sorbet and underlying Asian tea spices melding together harmoniously.  This lovely wine remains expressive and refreshing from first to last lingering sip.  SRP:  $16

Augusta Winery 2012 Dry Vignoles, Augusta, Missouri:   Augusta Winery was founded in the 1980’s in the scenic Missouri River Valley.  From their Estate House block comes this impressive dry Vignoles.  Aromatically rich, the inviting tropical fruit and floral notes completely embrace the senses.   It is silky and elegant across the palate with glorious flavors of pineapple, fleshy sweet star fruit and lemon and lime citrus accents.  The precise level of acidity pulls everything together in perfect harmony.  An elegant and refreshing wine with a memorable aftertaste.   SRP:  $16.42

Food and Wine Pairing

One of the unique features of this competition is the wine and food pairing that happens on the first day.  Wines, paired with sweet and savory dishes are judged on how the pairing works together.  This segment of the competition always stirs invigorating discussion.  What more fun can one have than pairing fabulous food (prepared by culinary experts at DMACC) with well-crafted wine that enhances the enjoyment of both the wine and the food?   Here are a few of my favorite pairings:

Beans Creek Winery (Manchester, Tennessee) 2008 Chambourcin Reserve paired with a Grilled Hamburger:  The fruity blackberry, raspberry, and earthy Chambourcin elements paired deliciously with the grilled hamburger.  The fat and savory qualities in the meat harmonized with the concentrated, spicy, dark fruit focused wine.  This well balanced, medium bodied Chambourcin showcased a pretty tartness that offset the richness of the meat.

Covered Bridges Winery (Winterset, Iowa) 2011 Rattlesnake Red paired with Smoked Pork Ribs:  The wafting aromas of the smoked ribs begged for a big red wine, and this powerfully built red, a blend of Marechal Foch, Frontenac, Geneva Red and Seyval really fit the bill.   This combination met an important rule for food and wine pairing; match the intensity of the food flavors to the intensity of the wine.   This delicious and immensely flavorful wine with plenty of body held up perfectly to the full, intense flavors of the smoked ribs.   Smoked meats can sometimes overpower wine, but clearly not the case here, this was a pairing that really excited the palate.

Eagles Landing (Marquette, Iowa) NV Serenity:  A dessert wine brimming with flavors of fresh raspberries, berry jam and chocolate undertones was a bright and lively pairing with the chocolaty, melt in your mouth brownie.  The wine’s focused fruit at the core and notable level of acidity was a perfect accompaniment to the rich, dense brownie.  A chocolate lover’s dream!

Wine regions in Mid-America have made great strides in grape growing, vineyard practices and winemaking over the past several years.  Why not give it a whirl; you’ll surely find a few gems that will wow your palate, too.

Michigan? YES, Michigan!

Mid-America, Tasting Notes

Michigan may not be the first place that pops into your head when wine comes to mind, but it ought to be on your list of wine trail to explore. According to the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council ( there are 73 wineries producing more than a million gallons of wine annually in this cold climate wine mecca from Vinifera, Hybrid and Native American grapes. This is significant growth, up from just 10 wineries in 1980 and 42 wineries in 2005. Most of the grapes are grown within 25 miles of Lake Michigan. In 2009, Michigan wines won coveted Gold medals at thirteen highly acclaimed wine competitions around the country. Among the top grape varieties grown in Michigan are Riesling, Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Cabernet Franc.  It was here I actually discovered one of the best examples of Pinot Gris I have ever tasted; yes that’s right, made in northwestern Michigan. Earlier this month at the 2010 Michigan Wine Competition it scored a Gold Medal and Best of Class award.  Read on about this well made wine and my other favorites:

Black Star Farms 2009 Arcturos Pinot Gris: Gorgeous floral aromas waft from the glass and lead to crisp apple and summer melon flavors with a touch of fresh herbs blossoming on the palate. This 100% Pinot Gris from the 7 Hills Vineyard (Old Mission Peninsula appellation) showcases beautiful purity of fruit with brisk acidity balancing the juicy fruit. Gold Medal and Best of Class, Dry White category.

Black Star Farms 2009 Arcturos Riesling: Another Gold Medal and Best of Class award for Black Star Farms, this time in the Semi-Dry White wine category.  This Riesling opens with delightful aromas of citrus and a fragrant bouquet of spring flowers and stays focused on the palate with succulent white peach and nectarine flavors wrapped around a firm core of acidity; a nice touch of minerality adds complexity.

Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery captured Gold and Best of Class in the Rose category for their 2009 Blanc de Pinot Noir. The beauty of this mouthwatering Rose begins with the brilliant rosey pink hue, and it bursts open with fresh strawberry and red raspberry flavors weaving harmoniously on the palate; well balanced with the perfect touch of sweetness. Think biting into a fresh picked sun ripened strawberry; juicy and lifted on the palate, balanced and refreshing with a good level of acidity.

Bowers Harbor Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc, Erica Vineyard: From the Old Mission Peninsula AVA, this stunning Cab Franc is a fine example of how well Cab Franc can be crafted in Michigan (it’s one of my favorite red varieties here). Earthy wild berry and dark cherry aromas fill the nose and expand on the palate with tantalizing layers of bittersweet chocolate, freshly ground spices, a touch of tobacco and subtle oak notes – full and complex with a long, lingering finish. GOLD medal and Best of Class, Dry Red category.

Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery Franc N Cherry: If fruit is your panacea you’ve got to add this to your list of must try libations. It really takes your taste buds for a ride with the tangy cherry flavors. Crafted from Cabernet Franc and Cherry; this lively juicy wine is playful (its frolicsome label gives you a first hint of that), but also has a bit of underlying serious earthy notes. Imagine biting into a freshly baked sour cherry pie followed by a walk in the forest. Gold Medal and Best of Class, Fruit Wine Category.

Cherry Creek Cellars took home a Double Gold in the Semi-Dry Red category for the 2008 Raceway Red. A juicy blend of Cab Franc, Chambourcin and Chancellor, this nicely made wine really sings. Forward cherry and spice aromas open the door to the purity of fresh berry and cherry flavors that shine brightly on the palate. Its sweetness is obvious but not over the top, and the soft, round mouth feel is offset with enough acidity to keep it vibrant and balanced.

Burgdorf’s Winery 2007 Morado: Crafted from the Native American Concord grape (Vitis Labrusca), this Gold Medal winning wine is vibrant from the welcoming brimming with fruit aromas to the pure juicy fruit at the core.  The essence of Concord comes alive.  Those that steer away from dry or tannic wines will find a joyful palate pleaser with this true to its varietal roots Concord wine.

Tabor Hill Cab Franc Port took home the Gold in the Fortified Grape category.  Inviting aromas of dark berry a hint of nuttiness rise from the glass and lead to a viscous mouthful of decadence; tantalizing chocolate covered berries laced with caramel.  Rich, delicious and velvety smooth through the persistent, memorable finish – what a way to cap off a delightful evening!

Don’t miss the boat on Michigan wines. Wine trails abound from the southwestern AVA’s of Lake Michigan Shore and Fenville to the northwestern AVA’s of Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula.  Discover firsthand the purity and crispness of these wines crafted from cold climate grapes, and the passion of the producers behind them.

Shining Stars from Mid-America

Mid-America, Tasting Notes (1 Comment)

The 2010 Mid-American Wine Competition at the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Iowa this month provided a joyful journey off the beaten wine path.  From native American and hybrid grapes that some consumers may have never heard of, winemakers are crafting wines that range from intriguing and pleasantly quaffable to downright lovely.  Wines for this competition must come solely from producers in Mid-American states including Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.    Here is a glimpse of some of my favorite award winning wines:

Stone Hill Winery 2009 Vignoles; Branson, Missouri:  Awarded Best White Wine of the competition, this elegant Vignoles showcases tantalizing fruity aromas leading to a lush mouthful of fresh pineapple and pear flavors that enliven the palate.  The vibrant acidity complements the generous fruit beautifully.  This wine is artfully balanced and the lingering finish is lip smackingly delicious!

Beans Creek Winery NV Chardonel; Manchester, Tennessee:   Chardonel is a hybrid cross of chardonnay and seyval.  This tasty example opens with inviting floral aromas captivating the nose, and expands gracefully on the palate with tree ripened apple and pear flavors.  A dash of caramel weaving throughout adds a nice touch of sweetness; an easy to quaff Gold Medal winner.

Wollersheim Winery 2009 Dry Riesling; Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin:  Minerality awakens the senses and broadens on the palate alongside layers of pineapple, crisp pear, crushed stone, a splash of citrus and delicate floral notes.   This lovely Gold Medal winner is a great wine to pair with Sole Piccata or any white fish or shellfish.  

Augusta Winery 2009 Seyval Blanc; Augusta, Missouri:   The fragrant aromas on this Gold awarded wine (a French American hybrid grape) steer the way to a pretty punch of fruit at first sip.  Honeydew and mouthwatering summer melon flavors carry through deliciously on the palate. A light and refreshing pleaser that remains fresh and clean through the finish.

James Arthur Vineyards 2009 Brianna; Raymond, Nebraska:  This Brianna (a winter hardy hybrid) with exotic, foxy aromatics is well worthy of the Gold.  The enticing flavors enthrall the palate with a beautiful expression of tropical fruit accented by a touch of spice.  Focused and lively through the finish, it simply dances on the palate.

James Arthur Vineyards 2009 “2 Brothers” LaCrosse; Raymond, Nebraska:  Lacrosse is a hybrid that also does well in winter climates (a cross between Seyval and another Minnesota hybrid).  This Gold awarded wine is delightfully fruity and lifted on the palate with sweet and tart tones intermingling tastefully from start to finish.  Bright fruit with a hint of citrus, this wine sits pretty on the palate with a smooth texture and pleasing aftertaste.

Summerset Winery NV Frontenac; Indianola, Iowa:  This Gold award winning (a red wine cross of French-American hybrid  Landot 4511 and native American Vitis riparia) captured the Best Dry Red Wine award of the competition. This fine example of Frontenac supports the notion that DRY RED wines can and are being made in Mid-America.   This handsomely structured red wine opens with alluring aromas of black cherries and red berries that expand and blast juicy fruit and spicy flavors splendidly across the palate.  Lively and balanced with a hint of oak on the lingering finish.

Prairie Berry Winery NV Calamity Jane; Hill City, South Dakota:  A Gold Medal winner that claimed the Best Off Dry Red Wine Award is crafted from the Native American Concord grape (a variety of Vitis labrusca).   Inviting fruity aromatics leap from the glass and really grab your attention.  This is a rich, round, juicy example of Concord wine that is zesty and full of liveliness with an impressive purity of fresh grape and berry fruit, and finishes with plenty of length. 

Oliver Winery Harvest Flavors Watermelon; Bloomington, Indiana:  This brilliantly hued mead (honey wine) captured Gold and delighted the judges with its appealing juicy watermelon aromas that stay focused and bright on the palate.  Think of the sweet, fleshy core of a fresh watermelon.    This wine joyfully screams summertime; I can picture it in the rainy winter months when I’m yearning for a taste of summer.

Prairie Moon Winery 2007 Winter Moon Vidal Blanc Ice Wine; Ames, Iowa:  This beauty took home Gold along with the Dick Peterson Trophy Award.  Intoxicating aromas of fresh sauted apple slices dotted with brown sugar and a drizzle of honey completely captivate the nose.   Powerfully built with decadent layers of baked apples, creamy butter, honey and spice that coat the palate heavenly.  The rich, viscous elixir has just the right touch of acidity to keep it balanced and bright through the memorably finish; wow – a wonderful dessert in a glass!

When your travels take you to the middle of the USA, don’t hesitate to stop and visit these wineries, and discover a number of others that can also be found in the Mid-American states; I think you will be delightfully surprised.