I switched things up a bit this morning and went straight to the Twisted Olive Cafe for brunch. It was chilly and looked so muggy out this morning that I wore jeans and my DTS hoodie. It wasn’t the worst decision, but by the time I’d finished all of my cup of chai and as much of my french toast as I could handle, the sun was beginning to make an appearance and people were more willing to sit outside for lunch.
The Twisted Olive offers an august view of Lake Michigan from the back end of the cafe. It’s a little difficult to determine just how upscale they are exactly; the cafe itself seems more upscale, just based on the way that it’s furnished, the classical music, the table settings with black napkins, the clean minimalistic presentation of the menu, the food items (ex: beef heart on the a la carte breakfast menu) etc. But then the servers are in jeans and black t-shirts and black server aprons, and some [of the guys] are even in shorts, the servers themselves are younger (some looked and seemed younger than myself) and very casual about their service.
I found myself feeling a little shy about going to the tasting room on my schedule, and I thought it would be wise to walk off that delicious brunch, so I went to Cutlers and promptly called Mother. Cutler’s is my kind of store in its organized chaos. It says ‘hobbies’ as soon as you walk in and happens to highlight a number of my hobbies in particular; it’s a fairly large store, and sells a mix of cookware, Vera Bradley, toys, furniture, clothes, cheap and fine china and glassware, all in one.
Not a moment too soon, I finally made myself go to the Mackinaw Trail Winery tasting room, and boy did I have fun. I made it back to the car with only six minutes to spare on parking. It’s a huge tasting room, with all the wine along the walls and a very large open space between the door and the bar that can be a little intimidating to cross at first. They offer 21 wines for tasting, and a 5-tastings-for-$5 deal, plus you get to keep the glass, and if you bring the glass back on another day, you get five free tastings (guess what’s on my list of things to do on my next day off). Conveniently, there was a brochure which includes the tasting menu that they present to you at the bar, so I’m going to include those descriptions on here, and star and comment on the ones that I did taste today. I did catch a misspelling on there though – they write current when they mean currant, and I’ve corrected that here.
- Chardonnay ~ This crisp fruit forward un-wooded chardonnay shows minerally citrus aromas with flavors of keylime and lemons.
- Pinot Gris ~ Complex aromas blend apples, limes, and lemony whiffs of ripe melon. Dry and tart, with distinct mineral snappy citrus on the palate. Tart lime lingers in a long finish.
- Dry Riesling ~ Charming aromas of white flowers and sweet melons. The bone-dry flavors of tart citurs over a steely acidity linger in a very long finish.
- Late Harvest Riesling ~ A semi-sweet fruity wine made in true Germanic fashion. A long slow fermentation process promotes superb floral aromas.
- * North Shore White ~ Crisp, tart, and sweet, or Vignoles wine will dance on your tongue A perfect wine to pair with BBQ. ← This was my first experience with Vignoles, and it blew me away. My first thought on the nose was, toasted? Toasted coconut, oat, maybe with a little sweetness like graham crackers, but definitely a grainy sense about it. Delicious. I can’t wait to see how ours will compare in five years, and I might come back for a bottle of this to take home with me.
- * White Ibis ~ Wonderful aromas of apples and pears with a luxurious finish. ← Ibis is a bird, I learned, and it is pronounced eye-bis. This wine is made with Vidal Blanc grape, and is comparable to Moscato. The nose was very faint, citrusy, with orange blossoms and not-too-ripe stone fruits. Also one I might want to buy at the end of the summer.
- * Cabernet Franc ~ A great Michigan fruit forward wine – soft cherry aromas up front with hints of black currants and plums on the soft tannin finish. ← This had a very low tannin structure, light – medium body, was very easy to drink, and not too strong. I’m not sure why I expected it to be stronger, the nose was jammy and full of black fruits, very ripe fruits, and maybe the taste didn’t quite hold up to the nose, and I don’t mean that as that it was watered down, just fainter in taste than I expected. This was the 2010 vintage. I’ve never had Cab Franc by itself before, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I think I would buy this wine, but I think I’d like to try some textbook Cab Francs first to compare.
- Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Displays prominent plum and black currant fruit with dark chocolate on the palate. A great tannin structure pairs this wine well with steaks and big pasta dinners.
- * Cabernet Merlot ~ A sophisticated Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Dark cherry on the nose followed with flavors of vanilla and dark chocolates. ← The blend was 50% Cab Sauv, 30% Cab Franc, and 20% Merlot, again a 2010 vintage. It was deeper in color than the Cab Franc, but I was surprised to find that it was not as complex, very easy to drink, and much more acidic than I thought it would be. Nice to taste, but I wouldn’t buy it.
- * Merlot ~ Aged 12 months in French oak. Hints of rick oak and soft spice baked by notes of plum and cherry. This very rich concentrated wine is well structured, with big tannins. ← Excellent and complex nose and taste, all those ripe black and dark red fruits, very plummy and jammy, oaky but not overly so, dry but not choking, medium – high viscosity, just beautiful. Haha, I think I’ll be buying enough Michigan wine to last me at least until next summer.
- * Pinot Noir ~ Mingles blackberry and cranberry with hints of tea and spice. ← A very short description, but one of their best-captured ones, I think. It was very light in color, almost a rose. My notes say, “tea!” underlined, italicized, and with the exclamation point just like that. I’d also like to add clove, and toasted marshmallow. Very light, aged in French oak [and you can tell], not too complex taste-wise, though. I loved the nose, but I wouldn’t buy it for how it tastes.
- Big Red ~ Fruity and full bodied, Big Red has become a Northern Michigan classic.
- * North Shore Red (Port) ~ An intense red wine port with exquisite oaky cherry flavor. ← It’s so purple-red in color that it’s almost black. Beautiful nose, but I wasn’t crazy about it, and I definitely like our Cherry Finale much better.
- * Blackberry ~ Dark ruby red color, intense blackberry flavors, and a sweet full body make this a wine you’re sure to remember. ← And that you’re sure to buy. Which I actually did. Hahaha.
- Blueberry ~ Soft, sweet, and incredible Blueberry!
- Strawberry Rhubarb ~ A perfect blend of soft sweet strawberries and tart Rhubarb evokes pleasures of summertime fun.
- Cherry Sangria ~ Cherry wine with wonderful tropical aromas and flavors!
- Cranberry ~ A unique wine made from Michigan grown cranberries.
- * Cherry ~ (They did not have this on their tasting menu, but was on sale on the shelves, and the tasting room manager mentioned it when she presented the menu.) ← It looked like a rose, was much sweeter than ours, made with Montmorency cherries, and much weaker in flavor. I definitely like our Cherry Wine at least a hundred times better than this one. I’m glad I got to try it for comparison, though, just to be able to appreciate ours so much more =)
- Razzberry ~ A raspberry lover’s dream! Sweet and creamy, almost overwhelming in its flavors. Serve this with homemade vanilla ice cream.
- * Vidal Blanc Ice Wine ~ Sweet honey-suckle bliss! ← Heh, the first line of my notes read, “OH MY GOSH!” I didn’t really write down anything else worth sharing. I bought a bottle.
I made friends the two bartenders (they’ve seen me in the picture of the interns displayed in our store), and Robin, the one I spent a little more time talking to, exchanged contact information with me. Depending on where she is with her own vineyards next summer, she may be ready to take interns, and I just might have a shot at being one of them.
So, just a few more notes: Their tasting menu was broken down into whites, reds, fruit wines, and dessert wines, but within their respective categories, they were not listed in the ideal order for tasting – they were listed in the order above. I did taste the Pinot Noir before the Merlot, and the ice wine before the port. Robin said that if any of the grapes were affected with botrytis, it would not have been on purpose. They definitely prefer French oak to American oak – although I never did clarify what it was on the port.
I’m in the cafe, browsing facebook, uploading pics, listening to some Josh Groban, flipping through Alan Wong’s New Wave Luau, waiting for Kelly to get off work so that she and Josie and Emily and I can go have a delicious dinner in Cadillac =) We probably won’t get back until past midnight, so I’m going to say goodbye for now and blog about dinner in tomorrow’s post. Peace!