August 24, 2008

Meadowbrook Wine and Food Festival

The Top Chef tour wasn't my only adventure yesterday. Instead of going home to referee Alex and his friends from next door I headed back out to Rochester Hills to the Meadowbrook Wine and Food Festival. About a month ago I saw that Foodbuzz was encouraging featured publishers to become a Foodbuzz Correspondent. I wrote and asked if they'd be interested in having me cover the event. I'm typically only a special occasion wine drinker because John doesn't drink it but I was very excited because I knew that there would be wineries there from the Traverse City area. This is where Dog Hill is located and where we are building our house and moving to this winter (cross your fingers!)

I coaxed my sister in law into coming with me and we arrived and received our tasting glasses and drink tickets. We started at the back with my main intent being not to miss any Michigan winery. It soon became clear that food would be a good idea, even though we weren't drinking the whole taste for most of the wines. There was a Whole Foods stand with cheese and cracker plates and we each got one. Oh boy...heels, grass, the heat, the humid weather added to carrying a notepad, pencil, wine glass, drink tickets, camera and a carryout tray of food made for quite a challenge. Somehow I managed, I hope with a touch of grace. We moved along and each tried a different wine from all of the Michigan wineries. The only exception being St. Julian which I've had several times and have never liked. There were several wines that I enjoyed a lot. The one that blew me away with it's fragrance and taste was the Fenn Valley Traminette 2007. They described this semi-dry white as having "spicy, floral and citrus characters". I really enjoyed its intense floral aroma. The other wine I found notable was Spotted Dog Winery's Coco Noir. I found it reminiscent of chocolate-covered cherries and enjoyed it a lot.

I also couldn't help spending time in the tent for the Great Lakes Tea and Spice Company, a company based out of Glen Arbor, MI. They reeled me in by having a Beehouse iced tea pitcher on display I've been eyeing for weeks online. John and I drink a lot of iced tea and iced herb tisanes and I just love the look of this pitcher. I browsed and had a glass of their Mackinaw Breeze iced tea, which is a black tea with juniper berries, berries and berry leaves. The juniper and berry didn't overpower the flavor of the tea but enhanced it wonderfully. I also found that they had Ras al hanout, the Moroccan spice blend I'm missing from my Vegetarian 100 List!! The pitcher, several tins of tea and the Ras al hanout just had to come home with me. I also picked up two bottles of the Fenn Valley Traminette on my way out.

It was a fun outing and a nice change from my typical Lego piece finding afternoons. I already have a pot (half empty) of the Mackinaw Breeze in my new pitcher in the fridge and I can't wait to bring the Traminette along to a special dinner soon. Here is a rundown of the Michigan wineries that were there with a few notes on the wines we tasted as well as links to the Great Lakes Tea and Spice company and more. A link to all of my photos from the festival is at the end.
Look for recipes with Ras al Hanout coming soon.

Wineries at the festival and the wines I tasted:
Black Star Farms
Artisan Red 2006, Sur Lie Chardonnay 2006, Cherry Wine
The Chardonnay I would buy if I was planning on serving something very rich. The Cherry Wine was too sour for my taste. I've purchased their Riesling several times and like it.
Chateau Chantal
NV Celebrate, Naughty Red Dry, Sparkling Cherry
Good but none were favorites.
Fenn Valley
Traminette LMS, Riesling 2007, Sangria
The Traminette was my favorite wine of the day. I liked the Riesling and would buy it. Neither my sister in law nor I liked the Sangria.
Round Barn Winery
Apple Demi Sec
The Apple was good but not terribly memorable. They also have a brewery and a distillery. I'd like to try some of their beers.
Spotted Dog
Coco Noir
This was the one that reminded me of chocolate-covered cherries. I have no idea at all what I would serve with it but wish I would have gotten a bottle.
Warner Vineyards
Peach & Honey, Gewurztraminer
The Peach & Honey had a pleasant peach aroma but was a very sweet dessert wine. The Gewurztraminer was good and was my sister in law's favorite of the day.
Pelee Island Winery
Gewurztraminer 2006
Pelee Island is an island in Lake Erie and is part of Ontario. This wine is easy to find in our area but it's not a favorite of mine.
St. Julian
I didn't taste any wines from St. Julian.
Other booths of interest:
Learn Great Foods Agri-Culinary Tours
Informative tours around Michigan, including ones on the Leelanau Peninsula, to sustainable farms
Great Lakes Tea and Spice Company
A Glen Arbor based tea and spice blender and importer, I purchased my Beehouse iced tea pot from them.
Michigan Hot Glass
Glass blowing classes and studio of Albert Young, pictures of the blown glass and a glassblower in action on the Flickr set.

A cute cast bronze cupcake from the Chateau Chantal booth

Marcona almonds, olives, grapes, Dutch Parrano cheese and crackers
The olives were watery and terrible but the rest was great.

My loot, the book is a collection of Detroit photographs that
was so nice I agreed to buy a subscription to Hour Magazine to get it.

My Flickr Set for the Festival
Michigan has listings for other wine related events in the state.