Gems in My Glass . . . October 2014

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Michigan, Tasting Notes

Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula, Part 2

Part 2 focuses on Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula, which holds an abundance of charm and talent throughout the AVA.  The following are among the gems that I was impressed with during my recent visit:

Bel Lago Vineyards & Winery; www.bellago.com

2012 Pinot Gris Reserve; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Welcoming ripe tropical fruits and leesy notes will fully awaken your senses with this intensely fragrant Pinot Gris.  Layers of delicious tropical guava, sun drenched pineapple and vibrant citrus wrapped around a solid backbone of acidity unfold on the palate.  A skillfully crafted Pinot Gris that is impeccably balanced and finishes long.  SRP:  $22

2012 Pinot Grigio; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Sur lie aging gives this tasty wine depth and sophistication, and the marvelous aromatics show off vivid florality.  It is bright and balanced on the palate, where flavors of fresh kiwi, green apple notes and a flaky crusted mandarin orange tart entwine.  This Pinot Grigio impresses with significant complexity through the extended finish.  SRP:  $17

2012 Auxerrois; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  This dry white wine (crafted from a grape widely grown in France, and planted by Bel Lago in Michigan back in the 1980’s) is lively and focused, from the citrusy aromas to the juicy fruit at the core.  Melon, pineapple and apple drench the palate with lemon zest and flecks of herbs and spice chiming in, and the mouth feel is exquisite.  SRP:  $19

2010/2011 Gewürztraminer; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Here’s a sexy, spicy Gewürztraminer for you.  Rising from the glass are gorgeous aromatics of rose petals, spice and honeysuckle.  Coating the mouth are sweet grapefruit, lychee nut, and ginger spice with colorful orange and lemon accents.  The hint of sweetness is well placed, and the vibrant acidity flows smartly through the juicy fruit.  SRP:  $18

2011 Chardonnay; Lake Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  You’ll swoon at first whiff of this intensely structured Chardonnay, aged in 100% French oak.  The enticing butterscotch aroma leads to flavors of baked apples, honeydew melon, pie spice and vanilla bean highlights that richly coat the palate.  The oak presentation is subtle and well integrated, and you’ll find a striking counterpoint of acidity, remarkable depth, and purity from start to heavenly finish   SRP:  $22

2012 Moreno Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  I tasted this stunning gem from the barrel and was thoroughly engaged and inspired.   Enticing aromatics lead to a flavorful wine showcasing dark cherries, warm earth, raspberry, tobacco spice and a pretty touch of oak.  I expect this complex Pinot Noir to age well with its density of fruit, finely tuned acidity, and firmly structured tannins.  SRP:  ~$42

2010 Reserve Pinot Noir; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Tempting scents of dried cherries and spice lift from the glass.  Building provocatively on the palate are mouthwatering layers of cherries, forest floor nuances, hints of anise and cranberry/raspberry compote with a squeeze of orange.   Complex and precisely balanced with nicely integrated tannins, this wine finishes with good length and verve.  SRP:  $35

2007 Bel Lago Pinot Noir; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Expressive aromas of wild mushrooms and red berries wow the senses.  It is equally seductive on the palate with fresh strawberries, cranberries, cherry pie notes, sautéed mushrooms and sweet oak spices interlacing sublimely.  This Pinot Noir is deep and complex with a lovely texture and fine grained tannins.  It has aged magnificently thus far, and promises additional years ahead.   SRP:  ~$35

2005 Bel Lago Pinot Noir; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Love the woodsy aroma that captures your full attention with this exquisite wine, which has aged elegantly.  Ethereal on the palate with flavors of wild mushrooms, hints of tobacco, dried cherry and savory spices that mesh in fine synchronization.  Deftly integrated oak is displayed from first sip through the finish; one that is long lasting and memorable.  SRP:  ~$35

 Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery; www.fortyfivenorth.com

2013 “45” White; Michigan:  This medium sweet blend of Vidal Blanc Cayuga White, La Crescent and Riesling delivers an appealing walk in the garden floral bouquet to the nose.  Coating the mouth are palate pleasing sun-kissed fruits.  Fresh pineapple, ripe melon and juicy peaches team up with a clear-cut level of acidity.  If you lean toward sweetness in your wine, this one will surely hit the spot.  SRP:  $16

2013 Unoaked Chardonnay; Michigan:  This bright Chardonnay captures the fruity essence of the Chardonnay grape.  Two lots were fermented separately and left on the lees for four months, adding good depth and complexity.  At the core are delicious citrus flecked apples and pears with hints of fresh herbs and spice peeking through. It is crisp and streamlined through the uplifted finish.  SRP:  $19

2012 Cabernet Franc; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Floral aromas captivate the nose with this lively, well-crafted wine.  It is deep and satisfying as it flows onto the tongue with sweet blackberries, tart wild berries and spiced blueberry compote flavors linking with violets and attractive oak notes.  A subtle suggestion of roasted green bell peppers shows through from mid to back palate, and the aftertaste lingers delightfully.   SRP:  $38

L. Mawby Winery; www.lmawby.com

L. Mawby Talismon NV Brut; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  The distinctively expressive nose will knock your socks off. This whole cluster pressed field blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Vignoles is alluring with its yeasty, leesy characteristics up front.  Dancing on the palate are flavors of freshly baked pie crust, sautéed apple slices, almond butter, lemon curd and a splash of lemon-lime.  Creamy in texture, complex and properly balanced, this buoyant bubbly finishes with a vibrant lift.  SRP:  $37

Sandpainting NV Extra Brut; Michigan:  Yeasty scents and floral notes waft enticingly from the glass.  Here is an inviting sparkling wine that displays a lively stream of tiny bubbles.  Crafted of 50% Pinot Noir, 27% Chardonnay and 23% Vignoles, this wine made in the Methode Champenoise traditional method is aptly named.  It is beautiful with racy acidity balancing the rich layers of flaky croissants, dried apricots, tinges of roasted nuts and quince paste that weave artistically on the palate; charming and energetic.  SRP:  $29

L. Mawby 2005 Mille Brut; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  This enrapturing Methode Champenoise sparkling wine brags a beautiful tiny bead that lives on forever.  Fashioned from 100% Chardonnay fruit, this jewel, kept on the yeast for seven years, is deep and complex.  Intoxicating aromas of brioche and hints of honey wow the senses.  It is rich and creamy in the mouth with layers of freshly baked bread, warm apple crisp, spicy poached pears, a twist of lemon peel, and butterscotch notes that unravel amidst invigorating acidity; a triumphant bubbly.  SRP:  $50

Shady Lane Cellars; www.shadylanecellars.com

2012 Gewürztraminer; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  This well composed Gewürz with just a touch of sweetness opens with an alluring floral nose.   The expressive, jazzy palate is brimming with varietally correct layers of guava, orange blossom, lychee and fresh tangerine with a generous thread of spice. Well balanced and lively with an aftertaste that lingers gracefully.  SRP:  $20.95

2011 Blue Franc; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Here is a juicy, spicy red wine that is nicely balanced and pure throughout.  Red and black cherry and berry fruits entice the nose and expand fully on the palate with cedar notes and alluring spicy elements remaining focused and persistent.  The aging in 100% French oak (25% new) is well integrated and adds a toasty note to the pleasing finish.  SRP:  $28.95

2011 Franc ‘n’ Franc; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Making quite a statement with its darkly fruited, intriguing aromas, this wine is a blend of 57% Blaufränkisch, 36% Cabernet Franc and 7% Merlot.  It has a serious side with its depth and solid structure, and shows off an elegant side with its balance and smooth texture.    Black currants, blueberries, tobacco spice and wild berries meld with a fine level of acidity and flow smoothly into the enduring finish.  SRP:  $19.95

Brengman Brothers Crain Hill Vineyards; www.brengmanbrothers.com

2012 Artist Series Unoaked Chardonnay; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Aged in the growing in popularity concrete egg-shaped tank, this beautifully textured Burgundian style Chardonnay opens with wildly expressive Chablis-like minerality on the nose.   Crisp apple, citrus fruit, pineapple and notes of herbs and minerals converge on the palate in harmony.   A complex, well-structured wine with zesty acidity and a finish that is long and memorable.  SRP:  $32.95

2012 Artist Series Barrel Aged Chardonnay; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Provocative aromas of roasted nuts and orchard fruit engage the senses with this compelling Chard, aged in French oak.  Interlacing flavors of butter-accented baked pears, spiced apple cobbler, Meyer lemon and hints of clover honey take center stage, merging with toasty oak elements and minerality that add further dimension.  Intense in structure with an exact balance, this wine is pretty in its youth, and should age handsomely for years.  SRP:  $39.95

2012 Dry Riesling Reserve; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Fragrances of wet stone, minerals and stone fruit (just what sings Riesling to me) jump out of the glass.  The flavor profile is vivid and intense with white peaches and hints of dried apricots joining stony minerality, lime zest and a touch of herbs flourishing on the palate.   Lean and crisp with bracing acidity, the wine finishes on a bright note with plenty of length.  SRP:  $21.95

2010 Med-Sweet Riesling Reserve; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Here’s an appealing sweet Riesling that perks up the senses with notes of cinnamon stick on the nose.  It is streamlined from start to finish with minerally, ripe stone fruit, hints of white flowers and a touch of herbs unfolding delectably in the mouth.  Well balanced and pure through the lively finish.   SRP:  $24.95

2013 Gary’s Reserve Gewürztraminer; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  This mouthwatering, highly aromatic Gewürz dances on the palate with spicy, mineral laded lychee and apricot flavors intermingling with pretty citrus notes.  The texture is silky and the wine remains snappy as racy acidity cuts through the sweet citrus-backed fruit.  A kick of gingerbread is highlighted on the lip-smacking finish.   SRP:    $24.95

Nathaniel Rose Wine  2010 Syrah/Viognier, Domaine Berrien, Abigail Vineyard; Lake Michigan Shore, Michigan:  Here is a full bodied Syrah co-fermented with Viognier in the classic Cote Rotie fashion. This is a well defined, complex wine.   Floral characteristics engage the nose and lead to a spicy mouthful of black fruit, hints of roasted meat, herbs and spice.  Deep, dark and delicious with full on tannins suggesting ageworthiness.  SRP:  $50

Nathaniel Rose Wine  2012 Left Bank; Domaine Berrien, Abigail Vineyard; Lake Michigan Shore, Michigan:  This extraordinary blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 3% Cab Franc proudly boasts an intense, black fruit, spicy aroma converging with flavors of plum, blackberry, fresh tobacco, cassis and espresso bean.  Tightly wound and complex, it was aged in neutral French oak; the subtle oak nuances are appreciated.  Powerful in its intensity and structure with a precise balance and firm tannins, this wine is impressive in its youth.  You’ll be handsomely rewarded by practicing patience, too; a cellarworthy wine.   SRP:  $250

2013 Cabernet Franc Icewine, Wooden Fish Vineyard; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Here is a delectable dessert wine with an outgoing personality.  Enticing aromatics lead to layers of dense, juicy raspberries, olallieberries, savory rhubarb pie components, a trace of roasted nuts and a drizzle of honey captivating the palate.   This gem is fully flavored and well balanced with hints of toast and caramel on the richly satisfying finish; a perfect nightcap.  SRP:  $75

Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula wine regions offer a wealth of beauty, charm, passionate personalities and noteworthy wines.  You too should take the time to explore these wineries, and additional producers who are also crafting beautiful wines in these regions (wineries that I did not have the opportunity to visit this time.  For example, Chateau Fontaine comes to mind).   I will continue following these AVA’s to keep my eye and my palate on future developments and vintages respectively, as they continue to raise the bar and further position themselves as significant players in the world of wine.

 

Gems in My Glass . . . September 2013

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Michigan

Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula, Part 1

The Michigan wine country is one that always leaves me with pleasant memories and wonderment.  With each visit, I find this growing region continues to elevate the quality level, unveil new producers, and present remarkably crafted wines, and this year is no exception.    My recent trip encompassed visits to properties in the beautifully scenic, hopping with activity Old Mission Peninsula and Lake Leelanau Peninsula AVA’s.  Among my favorites were:

Chateau Grand Traverse Winery and Vineyards; www.cgtwines.com:

2012 “Laika” Grüner Veltliner; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:  This tantalizing Grüner, aged 100% in stainless steel, is lean and minerally with melon and spice notes on the nose and entry.  Joining in mid palate are flavors of chopped herbs, citrus fruits and white pepper accents framed by vibrant acidity.  Nicely weighted and balanced through the bright finish.  SRP:  $17

2012 Ship of Fools; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:  Engaging and well balanced, this blend of 70% Pinot Blanc, 25% Pinot Gris and 5% Pinot Noir broadcasts a beautifully expressive tropical aroma.   Layers of guava, ripe melon, dragon fruit and lemon verbena flourish on the palate.  A lush, round texture carries the fruit and acidity brilliantly through the quenching finish.  SRP:  ~$15

2013 Whole Cluster Select Riesling; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:  Lovely minerality greets the nose with this medium dry Riesling.   Vivid flavors of white peach, green apple, fennel, allspice and mineral notes unravel onto the palate with style.  I love the purity and liveliness of this Riesling, and the hint of sweetness is well placed.  SRP:  $15

2013 Lot 49 Riesling “Cuvee Molly Devine”;  Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:   This fragrant single vineyard block bottling of Alsace Clone #49 Riesling showcases citrus accented apricots, peach skin, wet stone nuances, a sprinkle of fresh herbs and a splash of tangerine melding together in harmony from first sip.  Sleek with lively acidity and leesy notes underlining the core of bright fruit, and the finish is long lasting. SRP:  $21

2011 Gamay Noir Reserve; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:  Dense, dark fruit aromas with a hint of oak drive you into the glass, where you’ll revel in the rich texture and dense blackberries, cherries, ripe plums and a hint of strawberry jam melding with a generous twist of fresh cracked peppercorns dancing on the palate.  Immensely satisfying with just the right level of toasty oak, this complex, well structured wine finishes with an aftertaste that carries on and on.  SRP:  $20

Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery; www.brysestate.com:

2013 Naked Chardonnay; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:  This pure, fresh Chardonnay comes from a blend of clones 809, 96, 76.  Heady scents of citrus blossom and honeysuckle engage the nose, and flavors of succulent, fresh papaya and pineapple spears spill out upon entry.   Mid palate it is vibrant and juicy with crisp pears and a splash of citrus and herbs mingling with the lush, tropical fruit.  Thoroughly refreshing through the buoyant finish.  SRP:  $24

2013 Pinot Blanc; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:  This impressive Pinot Blanc proudly announces its presence with a gorgeous floral nose.  It is equally compelling in the mouth with layers of Asian pears, passion fruit and fresh pineapple bursting forth with accents of lemon lime, stony minerality and tisane herbal tea.  The wine is rich and tactile with impeccable balance; a magnificently crafted wine.  SRP:  $25

2012 Pinot Noir; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:   Here’s a wildly expressive Pinot Noir that hits the jackpot with its subtle oak, red cherries and exotic spice aromas lifting from the glass.  Crafted from vines planted to Dijon clones, the wine continues to unfold on the palate with warm earth, pomegranate and citrusy notes adding further dimension.  Love the restraint in alcohol at 12.9%, too.  Elegant and pure through the uplifted finish.  SRP:  $32

2011 Cabernet Franc; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:  This intensely flavored Cab Franc is deeply fruited with raspberry, candied berry, plum, cherry and orange zest flavors caressing the palate, making way for cinnamon stick, eucalyptus and earthy highlights to peek through.  The aging in 20% new, 50% second and 30% neutral barrels keeps the oak nicely in the background, and the tannins are firm yet velvety smooth.  SRP:  $50

Bowers Harbor Vineyards, www.bowersharbor.com:

2009 Cuvee Evan Blanc de Blanc: From their Old Mission Peninsula estate Block 1 comes this sassy sparkling wine, chalk full of yeasty aromas.    A spirited, tiny bead tickles the tongue and the wine explodes with vibrancy upon entry.  Flavors of crisp pear, brioche and a touch of butterscotch wrapped around a nice backbone of acidity swirl on the palate with spice notes joining in on the glittering finish.   SRP:  $30

2012 “2986” Langley; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:   Aged 18 months in French Oak barrels, this deep blend of 69% Cab Franc, 30% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon intertwines subtle oak with black plum, cassis, blackberry, a touch of roasted bell peppers and savory spice.  It is tightly wound with firm tannins supporting the generous flavor profile.  Decant if you pop the cork now.  If you have the time and patience, this wine is also one to hold; you’ll reap rewards in cellaring.  SRP:  $75

 Black Star Farms Winery; www.blackstarfarms.com:

2013 Arcturos Dry Riesling; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:  Here is an exquisite Riesling that tempts the senses with stony mineral and fresh sun-ripened peach aromatics.   Bright and precisely balanced, it opens with high notes that set the stage for focused minerality framing juicy, citrus backed stone fruit and lemon verbena accents.  The finish offers a touch of lime zest and persists with plenty of verve.  SRP: $15

2013 Arcturos Pinot Blanc; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:  Enticing tropical fruit aromas waft from the glass with this smooth as silk Pinot Blanc. Bracing acidity is a beautiful counter balance to the juicy pineapple, guava and apple fruit flavors with bright lemon zest highlights richly unfolding on the palate.   A stylish wine that shows depth and purity from start to lip-smacking finish.  SRP:  $18

2013 Arcturos Pinot Noir Rosé; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:   Scents of a garden-fresh bouquet and juicy strawberry shortcake start the mouth watering.  The delectable melding of red cherries, strawberries and raspberries with a splash of citrus simply delights the taste buds.  The fresh fruit enveloped in lively acidity flows in a steady stream on its way to a vivacious, uplifted finish; a chic dry rose.  SRP:   $13.50

2011 Arcturos Pinot Noir; 60% Grand Traverse County, 40% Leelanau County, Michigan:  This mesmerizing Pinot Noir awakens the senses with aromas of violets and cherry cordial.  Nicely structured and distinctive with layers of a spiced cherry compote, anise seed and hints of beet root elegantly displayed on the palate.  The essence of toasty oak spice from 10% new French oak aging is subtle and well integrated.  SRP:  $25

2007 A Capella Pinot Noir; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:  Forest floor aromas capture your attention and keep you further enraptured with each sip.   Deep and complex with flavors of black cherry, licorice drops, pipe spice and a sprinkling of fresh dill unraveling heavenly in the mouth.   The fine balance and firm backbone of tannins suggests this Burgundian style Pinot Noir will continue to show well for years.  SRP:  ~$27.50

2004 Arcturos Pinot Noir; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  I’m a huge fan of truffles in any form, and this divinely aromatic Pinot Noir really oozes black truffles on the nose!   Dark cherry and raspberry fruit thrive with the tantalizing earthy, truffle notes and hints of sage, and the management of underlying oak is well executed.  At ten years of age, this wine is drinking fabulously; smartly crafted.   SRP:  ~$25

Left Foot Charley Urban Winery; www.leftfootcharley.com:

2013 Sauvignon Blanc; Leelanau County, Michigan:  I really appreciate the grassy style of this energetic Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s well balanced and fully flavored with gooseberry, kiwi, and quince paste engaging the nose and decorating the palate with aplomb.   Fresh and vibrant with an attractive highlight of fresh chopped herbs on the sassy finish.  SRP:  $20

2013 Old Orchard Vineyard Kerner; Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan:  Here’s a fascinating wine made from this under the radar grape, a cross of Riesling and Trollinger (more widely grown in Germany).  The entry is delicate and easy, with pretty perfumed citrus blossom notes.  The wine gains momentum on the palate with tasty lemon curd, nectarine, apple skin and tropical notes weaving with a touch of herbs, and it finishes with a kick of lemon-lime; provocative.   SRP:  $20

2012 Seventh Hill Farm Riesling; Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan:  Intense aromas of sautéed pears, peaches and gobs of minerality arouse the olfactory receptors.  This Riesling is powerful and pure, with the citrus infused tree fruits entwined with steely mineral notes reaching every nook and cranny in the mouth.  The pleasurable aftertaste continues with plenty of spirit and good length, too.  SRP:  $23

Watch this space for additional impressive Michigan wine recommendations in Part 2 of Michigans Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula”; soon to follow.