Maker: Bel Lago, Cedar, Michigan, USA.
Grapes: Cabernet Franc, Regent, Merlot, Marquette, “and more (?).” Label calls it a “vineyard blend”.
Place of origin: Bel Lago estate, Leelanau Peninsula AVA, Leelanau County, Michigan.
ABV: 13.5% ABV
Notes: Spent 34 months in oak barrels.
Purchased for $44 from Michigan by the Bottle Tasting Room, Royal Oak.
Thanks to Cortney Case for the information on the grapes that went into this wine!
Appearance: Brick red.
Nose: Cherry jam, lightly toasted oak, anise, mace.
Palate: Blackberry jam, mulberry, leather.
Finish: Chewy with a little tang.
Parting words: I bought this wine about a year ago. At the time, I’m sure I took note of what the composition of the wine was, but over the months, that knowledge drifted out of my mind. So in preparation for this review, I emailed friend-of-the-blog Cortney Casey (co-owner of Michigan by the Bottle) and asked if she had any information on the grapes in this wine. She wrote back promptly with the above information but noted that Bel Lago co-founder “Charlie [Edson] is notoriously difficult to get full blend lists out of since a lot of his wines are field blends.” Since that is the case, I’m going to assume the term “vineyard blend” on the label means field blend.
I didn’t have that information at my fingertips when I tasted this wine, though, so I went in assuming this would be a Bordeaux/Meritage style blend like many of the “flagship” red blends in Michigan. I was therefore surprised at the “fruit of the forest” flavors of Tempesta at first taste, but with Regent and Marquette in the mix, it makes a lot more sense. That is not intended as a knock in any way, though. Tempesta is an excellent food wine, pairing well with just about anything except shellfish, which it would overwhelm.
$44 is pretty expensive. Not Bel Lago’s most expensive (that would be the Riesling ice wine), but it is in the top four. I’ve had the second most expensive one, sibling wine Tempesta Cabernet Franc, but I think I actually prefer this over that!
I vacillated between a full and a mild recommendation because of the price, but I’ve settled on full. Even though Regent and Marquette are pretty easy to grow in Northern Michigan, Merlot is not (even in a hot vintage like 2016), and Cab Franc can be a pain from time to time. If it is indeed a field blend, that’s worth a bit more as well. All in all, I feel comfortable recommending 2016 Bel Lago Tempesta.