Maker: Nathaniel Rose, Suttons Bay, Michigan, USA
Grapes: Merlot (50%), Cabernet Franc (50%).
Place of origin: Abagail’s Vineyard, Domaine Berrien Estate, Lake Michigan Shore AVA, Michigan, USA.
Note: 20 months in oak. 140 cases produced.
Purchased for $90 (Red Wagon of Rochester Hills)
Appearance: Brick red
Nose: Black currant jelly, allspice, toasted oak, cherry juice, ancho chili.
Palate: Juicy. Mulberry, then wild blackberry, then a growing leathery grip.
Finish: Delicate. Juice, then tannin, then fades.
Parting words: The time has finally arrived! The 2012 project has begun! Our first entry is the Right Bank blend from friend-of-the-blog Nathaniel Rose. For the post on my visit to his winery back in 2018, click here. For a review of his one-off Find Wild Fruit Traminette, click here.
Right Bank is modeled on right bank red Bordeaux blends, which tend to have a larger proportion of Merlot compared to Left Bank blends, which have more Cabernet Sauvignon in the mix. Right Bank wines tend to have more Cabernet Franc as well. Nathaniel’s wines come from the best vineyards around the state, which includes those at Domaine Berrien, of course. Both the Right and Left Bank 2012 blends were made from grapes grown at Domaine Berrien.
At any rate, the hallmarks of typical Michigan Merlot/Cab Franc blends are all here: berries, oak, and spice. Time has done interesting things to it, though. It’s “darkened” the fruit, for one, moving from cherry and blueberry to black currant and blackberry. For another, it’s smoothed out the edges and created a wine that shifts more on the palate from one taste to another, rather than everything popping out at once. Right Bank takes my palate on a nice little journey from aroma to aroma and flavor to flavor. There’s nothing for my brain to disentangle. Everything reveals itself in time. A big reason for that seems to be that the acid has mellowed considerably, even compared to similar wines at seven years old.
What it lacks in tangy punch, it more than makes up in sophistication. 2012 Right Bank may not be as hard to find as one might assume, if one lives close to a Red Wagon store. Last time I went to both of them, there were 2012 Right and Left Bank blends on the shelf.
The purpose of the 2012 Project is to taste through these wines and see how they age, so price is less of a factor in my review. Nevertheless, this is a very good wine that I don’t regret paying $90 for. It’s not a weeknight pizza wine, but I didn’t buy it to be that. I think the key with many of these wines is to buy them when they’re young and less expensive, then let them hibernate for several years in a well-regulated cellar.
At any rate, Nathaniel Rose’s 2012 Right Bank is recommended.