Top 5 Local Wines Available In Chicagoland

October 22, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I’ll admit that when Rob asked me to compile this list for The Local Beet, I groaned a little inside, knowing that finding local wines off-the-shelf in Chicagoland can be a hit-or-miss endeavor.  With distribution of the very best local wine in Chicago still an issue, some small distributors have started to chip away at this problem, and local wine is slowly — but surely — becoming more widely available. The key, however, is to look at small wine stores that are willing to stock smaller amounts of certain wines, such as Fine Wine Brokers (in Lincoln Square), Pastoral (three Chicago locations), and Green Grocer. Whole Foods has a varying selection of local wine as well.  By the time I compiled this list, I was surprised to find that I had to omit some very deserving wines in order to keep the list manageable.  They’re out there, it just takes a little digging.

1. (tie) L.Mawby Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs (Leelanau Peninsula). Now that we’re moving into the holiday season, pour these two wonderful — and reasonably priced — local sparkling wines as your guests walk in the door. Blanc de Blancs is widely available in Chicagoland at Binny’s, Fine Wine Brokers, Pastoral, Green Grocer, and Whole Foods. (Blanc de Noirs is available in half-bottles at Fine Wine Brokers and Pastoral.)

2. (tie) 2008 Black Star Farms Arcturos Cabernet Franc (Leelanau Peninsula) and 2007 Peninsula Cellars Cabernet Franc (Old Mission Peninsula). Cab Franc, as it’s known, is a grape used normally to blend in Bordeaux or Bordeaux-style blends (along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) but it is featured on its own in certain French reds from the Loire. These light- to medium-bodied reds are great fall weather reds, redolent of forest fruits and spice. Black Star Farms’ Cab Franc is available at Green Grocer and some Whole Foods, and Peninsula Cellars’ version is available at House Red. Peninsula Cellars’ Cab Franc is also available by the glass at Hopleaf and Eno in the Fairmont.

3. 2009 Fenn Valley  “42” Ice Wine (Fennville, MI).   Serve with non-chocolate desserts; it’s crisp and more acidic than most sweet dessert wines. Available at House Red.

4. 2008 Chateau Chantal (Old Mission Peninsula) Chardonnay. This crisp, unoaked version of the ubiquitous grape is available at House Red.

5. (tie) 2009 Good Harbor “Fishtown White” (dry blend of Chardonnay, Vignoles and Seyval Blanc) and 2009 “Trillium” (semi-dry blend of Riesling, Vignoles and Seyval Blanc) (Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI).   Good Harbor winery effortlessly makes easy-to-drink table whites for an extremely reasonable price. These wines are available at Pastoral. The Trillium is also available by-the-glass at Boka.


Locations throughout Chicagoland

Dobby’s World Wide Wine & Liquors
15 S. Brockway
Palatine, IL 60067
(847) 359-0400

Fine Wine Brokers
4621 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625-2007
(773) 989-8166

Green Grocer
1402 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60642-6303
(312) 624-9508

House Red
7403 W. Madison
Forest Park, IL 60130
(708) 771-7RED

Locations in the Loop, Lakeview and the French Market

Whole Foods
Locations throughout Chicagoland

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If you have any “top” local wines that you’d like to share, please post!