Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
"Psenkova Cherry Mead
Mead has a long history- it's regarded as the ancestor of all fermented beverages, with its origin predating the cultivation of land. Psenkova Cherry Mead is a great example of why this beverage has persisted through the ages. The clean, pure taste of Michigan cherries brings the right amount of tartness to balance the subtle sweetness of the honey, creating a beverage with rare harmony. This quality is the result of negociant Charles Psenka's ambition to express Michigan's splendor through drink: he sourced the fruit and honey from small family farms in Leelanau County and has it handcrafted by world-class winemaker Shawn Walters in small batches. Find it at two of Detroit's finest resturaunts, Roast and Slows, or at your local beverage retailer.
Gild, Jarred. "Drink Up." Real Detroit Weekly [Detroit] 22-27 Apr. 2009: 12.
Download Psenkova Cherry Mead Shelftalker of this article.
The back of the bottle has been graced by some Joa Psenka artwork instead of our usual statement about the origin of the fruit and honey. The story of the sketches follows.
The Feds were confused to no end about these meads that were created within a designated AVA (American Viticultural Area) specifically, Leelanau County Michigan. Even more confusing, Psenkova Peach Apricot Mead is made using only honey from our small Leelanau beekeeper and only fruit from Leelanau family farms. Compounding the quagmire, Psenkova Peach Apricot is technically a melomel, a mead combined with the addition of fruit.
Submitting the rear label of Psenkova Peach Apricot Mead with a simple explanation of our ingredients and their origin, we expected smooth sailing, but saw a few clouds on the horizon.
Our initial proposed declaration read: "Psenkova winemaker Shawn Walters uses only honey, peaches and apricots from Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula for our mead."
Denied. The Feds would not have it. Seems that the word Leelanau again was a problem.
We resubmitted the verbiage as thus: "Hand-crafted using only honey from a small Leelanau beekeeper and fruit from Michigan's Little Finger Peninsula and local winemaker Shawn Walters."
This the feds would not go for either.
It may seem interesting to point out that the word Leelanau already appears on our rear label legally because our meads are actually made in Lake Leelanau, Michigan. It was using the word Leelanau in the description that was taboo. We mentioned that our Cherry Mead label was approved with a very similar statement. They suggested that we did not mention that again.
The problem remains that I may not tell you on the bottle that the fruit and honey comes from Leelanau, because Leelanau County is a designated American Viticultural Area. I tried to explain that Psenkova meads are made with no grapes from Leelanau County, grapes are excluded from our melomels entirely, after all we were not making a pyment here. Psenkova Peach Apricot is only fermented honey and fruit, even after explaining that the honey and fruit is actually all from Leelanau County. Not only that, but our fruit and honey is bought directly from family farms that have operated in Leelanau County for over 100 years.
One of the final submission attempts read: "The County that may not be named. It is against federal law for us to tell you where our winemaker Shawn Walters gets the fruit and honey."
We thought it might be a little cute, the Feds were not at all amused and expeditiously denied the label. In fact, they found several new things wrong with both the front and rear label that they had overlooked previously. Psenkova understands and appreciates the value of the AVA's guidelines, even when a good idea gets awry.
Finally decided to scrap the whole backside description entirely. The world would get a taste of some of my Family's art from my Aunt Joa's sketches she created for me specifically regarding honey, it's cultivation and processing. See the complete set of ten sketches online when our new psenkova.com launches soon.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Newly opened but already famous for Executive Chef Jeff Rose's 'Beast of the Day' and in-house cured charcuterie. Roast was already awarded 2009 Restaurant of the year by the Detroit Free Press.
The carnivorous cuisine is perfectly suited for this native Detroiter.
While the Food Network Iron Chef has long been known for magnificent food, I was equally impressed with the beverage selection at Roast.
Roast's beverage book is easily among the best in the State. Covering all the venerable old wine bases but also offering a courageous eclectic selection of phenomenal obscurities you won't find elsewhere like Psenkova Cherry Mead by the glass.
I was drawn to the 'Death in the Afternoon' cocktail consisting of Henriot champagne with a splash of absinthe. Something I can easily imagine Papa drinking. Being that it was indeed the early afternoon, I opted for beer. Roasts beer list is formidable by any standard in the world, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales on tap, vintage lambics and other rare beer gems can be found. The locally featured brews are among the highest rated in the world in their respective classes like Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and Leelanau Brewing Company offering open-fermented, oak aged and bottle conditioned ales of character and distinction.
Being a connoisseur of burgers I was obligated to try the newly fabled Roast Burger. Cooked to temperature and served on an English muffin with thick bacon and an egg.
I suddenly found myself in love with the world as I sipped Leelanau Brewing Company's Petoskey Pale Ale and decided the Roast Burger is the Best Burger in Detroit.
Save room for Guinness Ice Cream.
The great old quote from Benjamin Franklin "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" is not a Benjamin Franklin quote at all. In fact the Colonial Playboy never mentions beer in any of his works. However wine is mentioned many times.
What Ben Franklin didn't say about beer
Of course, I know that while perhaps he didn't write the quote; Ben was thinking it.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Taste Michigan wines galore
"The quality of Michigan wines has changed dramatically the last five to eight years," says Champane, who has a huge Michigan section, five-shelves deep, in his store. He says Rieslings, especially late-harvest, are the hot sellers along with fruit wines, followed by the usual European varietals.
Champane especially loves Charlie Psenkova's meads at Sleeping Bear Trading Co. in Glen Arbor, including his cherry-flavored mead, which is crafted by Shawn Walters, winemaker at Michigan's Forty-Five North, who also made a peach-apricot blend for him. "His meads are to die for," Champane says."