A new tour from Traverse City’s Chateau Chantal gets fans of Northern Michigan wine out of the tasting room and down into the cellars: it’s the Sensory Treat Tour, and it’ll make you reconsider everything you thought you knew about wine. MyNorth’s Evan Perry sipped and nibbled his way through the educationally tasty tour, and discovered that there was a lot more to learn about wine than he’d ever expected.
It sounded easy enough: two black, opaque stemmed glasses, one with a sample of red wine and another of white.
“Try each, and we’ll see if you can tell which one is white and which is red without seeing the color of the wine,” said our Sensory Tour guide, Chateau Chantal’s hospitality manager Brian Lillie. I sipped from the two black glasses. First one, then the other, then the first again. Though my palate suggested one thing, my brain—distrusting my palate—deeply studied the flavors of both wines. Second-guessing ensued.
“Alright.” Lillie gathered our attention. “Raise your hand if you thought the first sample was white.” I slowly and shyly began to raise my hand, but it shot up quickly when I noticed nearby hands confidently go up.
“Well done, that first sample was our 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay…”
It was the first of many oeno-experiments along the Sensory Treat Tour, which is designed to educate attendees about wine—about how our palates isolate different flavors when other senses are engaged, about both complementary and contrasting pairings, and about the craft of winemaking.
Learn to Properly Taste Wine with Chateau Chantal’s Mark Johnson:
The tour was led in tandem by Lillie and his accomplice, Chateau Chantal’s Kyle Brownley; with only 20 attendants, there was ample time for questions from the audience and informed responses from Lillie and Brownley. Between our first tastings at the winery’s spacious Hospitality Room, to sipping Malbec among the vines, to descending to the cellar to taste five unorthodox, unforgettable pairings (chocolate-and-Pop-Rock-covered strawberries and Chantal’s sumptuous Cerise, anyone?), the Sensory Treat Tour stretched palates and drew back the curtains on Chateau Chantal’s winemaking processes—all within the span of 90 minutes. It’s a true all-access tour charting the grape’s transformation to wine and the palate’s interpretations of different varietals, and it’s indispensable to those casual tasting-room patrons looking to become savvy sippers.
For more information on Chateau Chantal’s Sensory Treat Tour, visit ChateauChantal.com. Tours begin on Wednesday, June 18th, and will take place twice a day at 11:30 am and 1:30 pm. Tours cost $20 per person.
In addition to their Sensory Treat Tour, Chateau Chantal is one of the stops along the Wine Warriors Wine Tour. Tickets for the Wine Warriors Wine Tour are available at MyNorthTickets.com: