Maker: Bel Lago, Lake Leeland, Michigan, USA
Grapes: Cabernet France (at least 85%)
Place of origin: Leelanau Peninsula AVA, Michigan, USA. (at least 85%)
Purchased for $44 (Michigan by the Bottle Royal Oak)
Appearance: Brick red.
Nose: Blackberry, blueberry, violets.
Palate: Dry but fruity. Blueberry, mulberry, tiny nip of tannin.
Finish: Tart and a little chewy.
Parting words: Bel Lago consistently makes some of the best wines from Burgundian (and Burgundy-adjacent) grape varieties in Northern Michigan. Their Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Auxerrois are all sought after by Michigan wine enthusiasts.
Judging by this wine, they have some work to do with their Bordeaux varietals. While perfectly drinkable, it lacks the depth and complexity of Bel Lago’s Pinots and Auxerrois. It’s virtually all fruit, without anything in the way of spice, minerals, or oak, despite spending 34 months in the latter. 2016 was a hot vintage, and Charlie, Bel Lago’s co-founder, likes his grapes ripe (and the microclimate of the estate is happy to oblige him) so perhaps they had a little too much hangtime.
As I said before, there’s nothing flawed or unpleasant here, it just doesn’t quite live up to my expectations of Bel Lago or of $45 wines. That said, I’m definitely trying the 2017 if I see it. 2016 Bel Lago Cabernet Franc, 2016 is only mildly recommended.