Better than the Television Show

I know that title probably has you wondering where I’m going with today’s article.  Over the last few weeks, I have realized that my DVR is full of shows that I’ve taped.  I decided to go through and delete the ones I’m never going to get to, but I forgot about one show that has me captivated:

The Curse of Oak Island

In a nutshell, the show is about a 200+ year search for treasure located on an Island in Nova Scotia, Canada.  The two brothers have spent years and I’m assuming a great deal of money digging around the island looking for what is believed to be a long-lost treasure.  Well, one of the brothers is the owner of Mari Vineyards in Traverse City, MI.  Last year, I had the pleasure of visiting the winery and sampling some of the wines made there.

A bit of history about the vineyard.  Located on the east side of the Old Mission Peninsula, it’s a beautiful winery with amazing views of the area.  What struck me as the most unique aspect is that they grow a good variety of Italian grapes.  While the Peninsula has a great microclimate, I still thought it was bold that they would attempt to grow these grapes in a cooler climate.  I found out that approximately 8 of their acres are grown under temporary hoop houses.  That’s right, they have 8 acres of grape vines under greenhouse cover for part of the year.  This helps the grape vines have a more moderate, temperate climate which helps in their accelerated growth.  It’s such a simple concept but amazing in practicality.

The Wine

I was able to sample several of their wines and purchased a few at my visit.  However, the wine that stood out for me was this gem:

2017 Mari Vineyards Asa Nisi Masa

This is a blend of 65% Malbec, 20% Syrah and 15% Nebbiolo aged 20 months in neutral French oak.  Please look again at this blend.  This is how in a quick summary that I would describe each grape variety:

Malbec:  A blending grape in Bordeaux, this is a great variety that shines in Chile and Argentina where its bold striking tannins are balanced by its acids, spicy tones and subtle fruit.

Syrah:  A red grape that shows well from the Rhone Valley and Australia which shows a big tannin structure on its shoulders with moderate acids and deep red fruits.

Nebbiolo:  Known as” the fog eater” since it likes to grow at fog lines on tall slopes. This grape shows tannic structures and spicy fruit.  My first choice when pairing with a cigar to match the boldness of the tobacco and unique spice tones.

All three of these grapes are rich tannic grape varieties with moderate acids and when ripe, show big rich red fruit.  Can you take a moment and invade my thoughts?  This wine is produced with this grape blend grown in northern Michigan.  My interest is peaked, and I want to see what it brings to the table.

My Opinion

I have been classically trained on these grape varieties and the best wine examples of each from around the world.  I’ve been able to meet with some of the best winemakers in the world and pick their brains on techniques.  Being able to play with Master Sommeliers and learn from them has been a blessing.  Now, after sampling this wine, I was completely blown away.  Michigan wines do not get enough credit at all.  Let me use my chart below to help explain what the wine is like.

Aromas / Flavors

The wine shows aromas of fresh cranberries, black cherry and raspberry.  This is followed by toasted cinnamon and cloves with a touch of prune/raisin.  Over the entire profile, there are small hints of Oolong tea.  The alcohol (13.6%) is well pronounced over the entire spectrum.

Its flavor is dominated with strong juicy cranberry and then finished with a fresh red fruit cocktail of strawberry and plum.  These flavors trail off slowly leaving a refreshing touch of cranberry on the palate. 


Its medium body slowly reduces as the acids rinse the palate.  Fantastic sensation.


It’s a dry wine but not unpleasant.


Moderately plus grape tannins are soft on the palate and rounded.

Acid levels

The wine shows great acid levels that help to rinse your palate clean and refreshes it.


The wine is full bodied.

Finish / Length

Amazing finish that the fruit rinses away from the acid leaving you wanting another sip.

After 30 minutes in the glass, the wine is still as fresh as the first sip and shows amazing characteristics.  I paired it with my Bolognese recipe of ground hamburger blend and bacon blend from my local butcher slowly cooked for 3 hours with some of the wine.


What I’m always reminded of about beverages is one important fact.  You can never assume what’s in the bottle.  Every time I sample any beverage, I try my best to look at it independently and with a clear mind.  Before moving to Michigan, I knew that their wines were good, but I had no idea of the quality available.

As I sip on this glass while eating dinner, I’m watching the Curse of Oak Island to get caught up.  Even though the television show is exceptionally interesting, being able to sample wines from their vineyard kind of makes me feel like a sponsor.  If drinking Mari Vineyard wines, with amazing quality, helps to support the winery which in turn helps support the show, I’m happy to contribute.  I hope they do find the ‘money pit’.  They are obviously good at making a treasured wine.


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