Wine Guide 2020

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Uncorked advice from local wine pros

Artist and polymath Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “The discovery of a good wine is increasingly better for mankind than the discovery of a new star.” While we think the Renaissance Man’s words are extreme, we find it hard to argue with one of history’s most prolific and successful inventors about the value of certain discoveries. Want to ponder his genius? Read on to see what you can discover from local wine professionals.

Zingerman’s Roadhouse

2501 Jackson Ave. | 734-663-3663 |
7am-10pm, Monday-Thursday. 7am-11pm, Friday. 9am-11pm, Saturday. 9am-9pm, Sunday.

Felipe Diaz

Photo Credit: Hassan Hodges, HH Photo Graphics for Current Magazine

Lead Server, Staff Wine Education Program Coordinator, and Head Wine Devotee

What is your favorite local or regional winery? I’m excited to see so many new wineries make their way onto the stage here in Michigan, but Laurentide Winery, from Leelanau, Michigan, has been leading the way with honest, high-value wines.

What’s your take on  wine trends? The rise of more women and people from underrepresented groups in winemaking has been a long time coming. It lets us experience a point of view and a creative approach that has previously been mostly unknown. We’ve had the opportunity to offer wines from Martha Stoumen, and currently provide wines from Eileen Crane, André Hueston Mack, and Susan Braymer.

I’m also really engaged by winemakers who focus on sustainable and biodynamic practices. These wines give a true sense of place and, at the same time, safeguard the future of the land and its inhabitants.

Canned wine is a trend that I have yet to see done well, although I am sure that there are some great options out there… somewhere…

Tastes change. What was the most recent change for you? I discovered dry Riesling! For a long while, my experience with Riesling was a lot of sweeter examples, and I have a low sweetness threshold. Dry Riesling often brings a bright and bouncy acidity that makes it a great partner to dishes that might typically call for a Sauvignon Blanc or Albariño.

What’s your favorite, and most surprising, food and wine pairing? I once took a wine pairing class, and the instructor had us taste Nebbiolo with a piece of Hook’s seven-year-old cheddar. Mind-blowing! The complexity of the cheese subdued the prominent tannins, and the mineral and saline notes of the cheese just came to the forefront, all balanced by the enhanced creaminess. It’s the kind of pairing experience I keep looking to emulate with other wines and other foods.

What’s the best way to pick out a bottle of wine when you know nothing about the selection? Ask! Picking a wine from a list that you know nothing about is like throwing darts in the dark; sure, you’ll hit something, but probably not what you’re aiming for. If you know what you like or what you’re looking for, let your server know. If the server is unsure, they can get help from the bartender, a manager, wine instructor, or sommelier. At the Roadhouse, for example, you can get a sample of any of our glass offerings before you commit. Most servers and wine professionals are eager to help you find something that you will enjoy and that will enhance your experience.

Steal: Maison Noir 2017 “Other People’s Pinot” Noir (Willamette Valley, OR). $46.

Deal: Ancient Peaks 2016 Merlot (Paso Robles, CA). $38.

Unreal: Ramey 2015 Syrah (Sonoma, CA). $76.

Specials: During happy hour we offer $1 off all glass pours, and we always offer half glasses of wine. Tuesdays feature 30% off any bottle of wine! We also offer 30% off to-go bottled wine at any time.

Vinology Restaurant & Event Space

110 S. Main St. | 734-222-9841 |
4-11pm, Monday-Thursday. 4pm-midnight, Friday. 10am-midnight, Saturday. 10am-10pm, Sunday.

Ian Youngs

Beverage Enthusiast

What is one bottle of wine perfect for celebrating Valentine’s Day? I think that Burgundy shows wonderfully for this holiday. The elegance of Pinot Noir from Côtes du Nuits is perfect for sharing over candlelight. Have a bottle of Domaine Des Perdix.

If you had to pick, would you rather drink only reds or only whites? If I were to pick, I would choose only white wines. White wine is quite refreshing and has many fascinating styles for your palate to explore!

What are your most and least favorite wine trends? My favorite trends include sustainability and biodynamics. My least favorite is going to be dealing with the new tariffs.

What is your favorite local or regional winery? One of my favorite Michigan Wineries is “Big Little.” From their excellent and diverse selection to their Ann Arbor Roots, Big Little is moving Michigan wines onward and upward!

When did you first realize you wanted a career related to wine? When I was an undergrad at Michigan and was working at a restaurant in town that pushed me to be more proficient in my work. A short time later, I took my first Sommelier exam and never look back!

What do you love most about wine? Wine shares a unique history with the history of the world. You can follow the movement of people and the settling of countries all through the study of wine. We all owe the Romans a big one!

Specials: We offer half-off all wines by the glass from 4-6pm, Monday-Friday. All-day on Monday, we offer up to 50% off select wines by the bottle.

Steal: Isaac Fernandez Seleccion ‘Biutiful’ Brut Rosé Cava (Spain). $32.

Deal: Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne (France). $75. This is a wonderful deal on a bottle that is typically priced $100-$150. We, arguably, have the lowest price in Ann Arbor.

Unreal: Opus One (Napa Valley, CA). $375. This our highest-priced bottle. As for selecting the best-tasting wine— that’s like picking out your favorite child and guessing which child our guest thinks is our favorite! We pride ourselves in our ability to guide our guests to the wine that will taste best to them!

Blue LLama Jazz Club

314 S. Main St. | 734-372-3200 |
5-11pm, Wednesday-Thursday. 5pm-1:30am, Friday-Saturday. 11am-3pm, Sunday Brunch.

Patrick Aretha

Assistant General Manager, Sommelier

What is one bottle of wine perfect for celebrating Valentine’s Day? Champagne all the way! Guests may try to think of red wine instead, but the party starts when you hear the bottle pop. I love the sound of the mousse filling the glass, there’s nothing else in the world like it (just like your special someone), and it pairs with anything.

What are your favorite, and least favorite, wine trends? I’m probably most excited to see a younger generation of wine drinkers recognizing the versatility and general-awesomeness of riesling. No, it is not just a sweet wine, it’s super affordable and pairs with so many different foods! In that same vein, I think there’s a negative trend amongst some wine drinkers to scoff at wines that are inexpensive or that don’t score as many points as others. Drink what you want, when you want, with whatever you want.

What’s your favorite, and most surprising, food and wine pairing? I came across this pairing when making our New Year’s Eve tasting menu. It turns out that egg yolk raviolo with brown butter foam and crispy pork belly pairs great with vintage Sercial Madeira. In this case, I paired the raviolo with a 1969 Sercial Madeira by D’Oliveiras. It’s surprising because not a lot of people think of drinking Madeira with the main course, but actually, it can be a very versatile wine.

Steal: The best low-priced option on our list is definitely by IMO from the Douro in Portugal, and it is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz. This region is still undervalued for its still white and red wines. Most people know Portugal for their famous Port wines. $40/bottle.

Deal: The best bang for your buck wine on our list must be the Luberri Orlegi Tempranillo Gran Reserva 2012. This is one of the premier producers of Rioja in Spain, and this is their flagship wine. We serve it by the glass or by the bottle. The wine aficionados out there know this is a great deal— $ 15 by the glass/$58 bottle.

Unreal: The first wine that comes to mind is our Château Haut Brion Blanc 2015 from Pessac-Léognan in Bordeaux. Situated on the left bank of Bordeaux, Château Haut Brion is one of five’ first growth’ chateau that exist in the region and is the only one that exists in Pessac-Leognan. While they are probably more famous for their red wines, the Blanc (mostly Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon blended in) is a very rare wine to see on a list. The scarcity of the wines is reason enough to splurge on it. However, what you’ll find in the bottle is pure magic. $1,560/bottle.

Specials: I am one of five on-staff sommeliers, and Blue LLama is committed to increasing that number so that every guest can have an amazing time with music, food and wine combined for an unforgettable experience! In addition, our Happy Hour begins this month. Enjoy specials on beer and whisky pairings, select wines and a special HH food menu in the bar and patio areas from 5-6:30pm, Wednesday-Saturday. We’ll spin jazz vinyls during that time, and each day will feature a specific artist.

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