Enjoy Special Wine Events in Late April

Taste Michigan Reserve Wines, New Releases, and More

Celebrate Michigan wine month at the Palace of Auburn Hills this weekend, at Vinotecca wine bar and restaurant in Royal Oak all month, and at the Michigan Wine Showcase at The Rattlesnake restaurant in Detroit on April 30.

This Saturday, April 21, at the Palace of Auburn Hills is “What’s Cooking Detroit,” an interactive event with live cooking demonstrations and wine and food seminars. Go directly to the wine and spirits pavilion to taste a selection of Michigan wines, representing more than 20 wineries. Get ticket details at www.whatscookingdetroit.com.

For a taste of cellar wines, head to Vinotecca before the month’s end. And to chat with winemakers and winery owners — and taste 2011 releases — don’t miss the showcase on the river at the Rattlesnake.

Vinotecca manager Brent Stevens features seven reserve wines on his tasting menu in honor of Michigan Wine Month: Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery’s Pinot Noir Reserve; L. Mawby’s Blanc de Blancs; and five wines from Bowers Harbor Vineyards, including two Chardonnays, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and 2896 — a delicious red wine blend.

Stevens shares his personal recommendations on wine and food pairings for three of the featured wines:

Brys Estate Pinot Noir: Stevens describes it as a medium-bodied Pinot Noir. He recommends, “something light but full-flavored like the seared tuna appetizer. It’s encrusted in herbs and served with dual seaweeds (red and green) … no heavy sauces to overwhelm the wine, but a nice splash of flavor to complement the fruit-forward Pinot.”

L.Mawby Blanc de Blancs: Stevens describes the sparkling wine as very dry and refreshing without a heavy richness. He suggests the white sampler, “a not-so-simple tray of white cheeses, spreads, fruits, homemade crackers, dried meats, and more. The sparkling Blanc de Blancs will really enhance the different tastes and bring out the flavors in the sampler.”

Bowers Harbor Vineyards 2896: “There is an earthiness and richness to this wine, but it’s not as heavy as a big California Cabernet,” Stevens says. “So I’d skip the steak and order a plate of our beef sliders. We load them with caramelized shallots and house-made ketchup. They pack a lot of flavor, but will complement the medium bodied red blend quite nicely.”

Beyond April’s special Michigan wine reserves, Stevens features a selection of Michigan wines year round, such as Bowers Harbor Vineyards Pinot Grigio, L. Mawby Sex sparkling wine, and Bonafide Late Harvest Riesling. Vinotecca is located on Main Street in downtown Royal Oak. Gather at Vinotecca – anointed Best Wine Bar since 2006 by Hour Detroit readers – for leisurely evening or late afternoon fun in a welcoming environment.

Don’t miss the annual Michigan Wine Showcase on April 30 at The Rattlesnake, which is carving a niche as “Detroit’s big-city dining experience,” according to Gourmet magazine. Mingle with winemakers, winery owners, and Master Sommeliers Claudia Tyagi and Madeline Triffon and taste the impressive 2011 vintage represented by more than 100 wines. Enjoy the “walk-around” tastings from 6 – 8:30 p.m., and immediately order favorite wines from retailer Plum Market. The Rattlesnake’s Chef Chris Franz plans to dish up hearty hot and cold appetizers to complement the diverse wines.

Wine industry veteran Lee Lutes, winemaker and general manager for the wineries of Black Star Farms, will attend the event to showcase a selection of 2011 wines: Pinot Gris, Sur Lie, and Dry Pinot Noir Rosé. “The 2011 whites are amazing and are shaping around a brighter acid core, yet have a very developed aromatic flavor profile,” Lutes says, “These wines drink well young, but will age gracefully. The 2011 wines are so good and there will be plenty to keep around for awhile.”

The growing season was deemed highly successful for both quality and quantity, making the 2011 vintage an exciting one to enjoy now and stock up on and cellar. Lutes is also excited about the winery’s reds, particularly the Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Leorie Merlot/Cabernet Franc, which he says will be, “a big, chewy, robust blend from one of our premier vineyard sites that continues to defy its regional identifier.”

Meet Lutes and other winemakers at the showcase to taste 2011 wine releases, savor Chef Franz’s yummy appetizers, and enjoy the amazing skyline along the Detroit River, where wild grapevines flourished a century ago. Tickets to the showcase are $40 in advance and $45 at the door. Order online or contact Karel Bush of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council at (517) 241-4468.

Sharon Kegerreis is co-author of the award-winning From the Vine: Exploring Michigan Wineries and The History of Michigan Wines. Learn more and get autographed books at deliciousmichigan.com.