I had the chance to visit Grand Rapids, Michigan which is the western part of the state for the chance to participate in a national convention, sponsored by a club that I have had membership in for twenty-five years. Actually the show is such a big draw that I had to settle for the third hotel of the three club sponsored hotels, as the first two hotels were completely sold out, and thankfully the third hotel was only a couple of blocks away from the venue and I was able to walk along the river. Grand Rapids had the reputation of being the “Furniture City” when I was a youth, but it has become one of the major destinations in Michigan with many different lures, such as food, craft beers and the arts.
My Bride decided to do some work, while I was at the show, and she had also made plans to meet some of our friends for dinner while we were there. It also was during the Restaurant Week Grand Rapids, so besides all of the people for the convention that I was attending, the foodies were out in full force as well. She had lobbied to have dinner at one of her favorite restaurants there, but I said that I wanted to try someplace new, so to have a complete new story to relate. This is a great side benefit to being The Wine Raconteur. My Bride had given our friends, my list of likes and dislikes about food, and they were able to find a fine restaurant for us and made the reservations as well. We went to Bistro Bella Vita, which was only a couple of blocks, both from the convention and from the hotel that we were staying at. As soon as I looked at the menu, it was an easy decision for me, as they had duck on the menu, and I stopped reading. My Bride was happy to have her usual salmon, which always amazes me, because she makes excellent salmon dishes at home when we eat in; the amazement is that she does not choose an entrée that she does not make. Our friends settled on Rib Eye steaks, which seems to be the steak of choice again, and I had remarked that I have not had a Rib Eye since I was very young, because it tended to be the steak of choice of my Father at home, that and Porterhouse steaks as well, and I had my full of both cuts. While we were enjoying our dinners, the other husband graciously cut a slab from his Rib Eye and wished that I would reacquaint myself with the steak and it was delicious, and I think that I had forgotten how good that steak can be, and I reciprocated and gave him some of my duck, which if you know me, it is hard for me to give up any duck, other than to my Bride.
After cocktails, it was easy for me to begin looking at the wine list, as I knew what we were all planning on having for dinner and I had already decided that a Pinot Noir was called for. I was sure that the Gods were going to allow me to find some Pinot Noir wines from which to choose from and I guessed right. I settled on Maison Roche de Bellene Vieilles Vignes Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2011. Maison Roche de Bellene is a new negociant founded in 2009. The name Bellene is from the Gallic God of Sun and Beauty that the city of Beaune’s name is derived from. Maison Roche de Bellene has a business philosophy of acquiring fruit from older vines and making the most of the terroir of Burgundy. The wording on the label of Vieilles Vignes can normally be just a marketing ploy meaning “old vines,” but the fruit was harvested from vines that are fifty-six to eighty-eight years old from plots in both the Cote de Beaune and the Cote de Nuits, hence the appellation of Bourgogne. The wine was aged for fifteen month in barrels unfined and unfiltered which allowed more of the terroir to be part of the wine. This was a simple and enjoyable wine and since there were about 10,000 cases of wine made, it should be fairly easy to be found and the cost was not dear, even in a restaurant. Just a great evening of friends, food, good memories and of course wine and that is what life should be.