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Note: This wine is no longer on the St. Julian website, but seems to have been replaced by something called Dry Bubbly Rosé.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.

Eco Trail Red

Maker: Pelee Island, Kingsville, Ontario, Canada.EcoTrailRed

Grapes: Cabernet Franc, Baco Noir, Chambourcin.

Place of origin: Ontario VQA, Canada

Vintage: 2010

ABV: 13%

Appearance: Dark crimson.

Nose: Blueberry jam, oak, hint of cedar, black pepper and allspice.

On the palate: Medium bodied. Wild blackberries, prunes, cherry juice, mace, toasted oak.

Finish: A little chewy and drying. Nicely balanced between fruit and wood.

Parting words: When I was at Pelee Island Winery last summer Eco Trail Red was by far the best red wine I tasted that day. They sell a bewildering number of different wines and as one would expect the whites are better on the whole than the reds. That said, some of their reds are very enjoyable and they’re not always the most expensive ones. This wine is a prime example of that.

Eco Trail is an excellent table wine in the best sense of the term, i.e. a wine to drink with a meal. The Cab Franc takes the lead and the two hybrids round it out nicely. It’s affordable and doesn’t need more than a year or two in the bottle to blossom. I have never seen it for sale in the US, or even anywhere else in Canada other than the winery shop. If you are in Ontario and happen to be driving by Kingsville on the north coast of Lake Erie, stop in and pick up a bottle. Eco Trail Red is recommended.

Butler Limited Edition Indiana Chambourcin

Maker: Butler Winery, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Vintage: 2009

ABV: 12%

Appearance: Dark burgundy.

Nose: Oak, wild blackberry, dried tobacco. Bears a passing resemblance to Chianti.

On the palate: Full bodied, but delicately sweet. More forest fruit, toasted oak, blueberry.

Finish: slightly tangy, but with some cedar in the background.

Parting words: Chambourcin is a hybrid grape that is pretty widely planted around Eastern North America. It was developed by hybrid guru Joannes Seyve and became available to planters first in the 1960s. Its advantages are its disease resistance and a lack of foxiness. It is an ancestor of the increasingly popular Regent grape. It ages well too, or at least this one did.

This stuff was all over the place in a very unpleasant way during the first hour after I opened it . After it sat in the fridge with a stopper on for 2-3 hours it settled down into a good, very food friendly wine. It’s not incredibly complex but it has a slightly rustic character that keeps things fun. My only criticism is that it is slightly over-oaked. Less oak and more fruit might have put it into the highly recommended category. Overall it’s a good effort, though. Butler Limited Edition Indiana Chambourcin, 2009 vintage, is recommended.