45 North Pinot Noir Rosé

Maker: 45 North, Lake Leelanau, Michigan, USA

Grape: Pinot Noir (at least 85%)

Place of origin: Leelanau Peninsula AVA, Michigan, USA

Style: Dry Rosé

Vintage: 2018

ABV: 11.5%

Purchased for $22 (Michigan by the Bottle, Royal Oak)

Appearance: Pale, orangey pink.

Nose: Strawberry, overdone mixed berry pie, cedar.

Palate: Full-bodied, pink raspberry, watermelon.

Finish: Semi-sweet with fruit and a little acid and oak.

Parting words: 45 North is located on Leelanau Peninsula about 2/3 of a way up the middle of the peninsula. It has a very nice tasting room with ample indoor and outdoor seating, fit for a senator.

At any rate, I really enjoyed this wine. Purely by accident, last weekend I was able to compare 45 North’s red Pinot Noir (2016) with this pink version. The red was good, but I think I like the pink even more. Northern Michigan is started to get very good at pink wine. $22 is an ok price, but remember, this isn’t pink supermarket plonk. 45 North Pinot Noir Rosé is recommended.

St. Julian Dry Sparkling Rosé

Maker: St. Julian, Paw Paw, Michigan, USA

Grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin

Place of origin: Lake Michigan Shore AVA, Michigan, USA

Vintage: NV

ABV: 13%

Purchased for $8 (? Winery tasting room, Troy, Michigan)

Appearance: Orangy pink, effervescent.

Nose: Strawberry, mulberry.

Palate: Fizzy, medium-bodied and mild. White raspberry, mineral water.

Finish: Acid, a little tannin.

Parting words: I recall tasting this wine at the tasting room and I must have liked it a lot since I ended up buying three bottles of it! Oddly, two of those bottles are listed at $8 and one is listed at $14 in my Cellar Tracker account, so I’m not really sure how much I paid.

This is a decent, quaffable sparkling rosé that tastes best when chilled. There’s not much in the way of balance or integration, though, and the palate is a little flat. For $8 (if that’s what I paid for it), it’s fine. At $14, not so much. I’ll err on the side of generosity, though and give St. Julian Dry Sparkline Rosé a mild recommendation.

Note: This wine is no longer on the St. Julian website, but seems to have been replaced by something called Dry Bubbly Rosé. Hopefully the name change means that the wine has been revamped.

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey

Maker: Woodford Reserve/Brown Forman, Versailles/Louisville, Kentucky, USA (Brown-Forman).

Style: “Barely legal” (~51% malt) American malt whiskey.

Age: NAS (at least 4 y/o)

Proof: 90.4 (45.2% ABV)

Appearance: Medium copper.

Nose: Alcohol, sweet malt, caramel, leather.

Palate: Rounded and full bodied. Vanilla, orange sherbet, but without the sweetness and oak.

Finish: Semi-sweet, creamy.

Parting words: For years, Woodford Reserve has produced its Master’s Collection, an annual release of an off-beat experiemental whiskey. It was a popular bunching bag in the old days for its failed experiments (eg Sonoma Cutrer finish) and high price ($90 was laughable at the time).

Some of those experiments ended up eventually turning into regular offerings, though, and this malt whiskey is one of them. The WRMC ryes (which also gave birth to a regular expression), were packaged as a two pack of 375 ml bottles, one aged in new cooperage and one aged in used. The malts were annoyingly released as two seperate 750 ml bottles, which is why I never bought them or tried them and they kinda made me mad.

Despite all that baggage, I’m glad this experiment made it to prime time. This is a straight malt whiskey. That is, it is to malt what rye whiskey is to rye or bourbon is to corn. The recipe contains at least 51% malt and was aged in new charred oak for at least four years.

I give a lot of credit to Brown-Forman for releasing an American style malt instead of trying to ape Single Malt Scotch. I don’t see the point in US producers of any size trying to out-Scotch Scotch while the American straight malt whiskey category exists and has been moribund for so long. If this whiskey is any indication, there’s lots of potentional in the category.

$38 is a long way from $90 and a very fair price for this kind of quality. I like this whiskey a lot. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt is recommended.