A few years ago, we would routinely drive past Chateau de Leelanau when visiting the Leelanau wineries. The ambiance never really excited me, so I probably never gave their wines a fair shake. This all changed last summer when new ownership moved in and Matt Gregory became the face of the winery. He cleared the clutter and made the wine the focus of the tasting room. No more trinkets, and no more gift shop junk. I love the minimalist approach. It makes it easier for me to focus on what's important — the wine!
We stopped by during our recent trip up north and were once again greeted warmly by Matt. With his enthusiastic personality and passion for the business, I'm sure that everyone who enters the tasting room feels like they are in for a treat.
The other wine that wowed us at Chateau de Leelanau was the 2005 Cabernet Franc/Merlot. Michigan reds had a monster year in 2005, and Chateau de Leelanau was fortunate enough to have several bottles left of this rockstar wine (rather, we were fortunate enough that they had some left.) It was dark in color, the way Cab Franc was meant to be. Flavors of black cherry and raspberry filled our glass. It was lightly oaked, but the oak seemed to enhance the wine instead of overpowering it. The wine has aged well, but I doubt it will see much more time in the cellar as it was one of our favorite wines of the weekend.
Of course, we picked up a couple of bottles of each and can't wait to share them with friends. If you haven't been to Chateau de Leelanau lately, I strongly recommend you give it another try — you'll be pleasantly surprised.
We'll be posting brief summaries of our experiences at some of the wineries we hit during our weekend trip to the Traverse City area Jan. 14-16. Stay tuned for recaps on several others, along with Cortney's travel diary, a full feature and video on the Inn at Black Star Farms, and more!