2017 Michigan Wine Competition and Winery Visits, Part 2

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

Noteworthy Red Wines, Rosé Wines, Fruit Wines and Dessert Wines

Part 2 of my 2017 Michigan Wine Competition and Winery Visits article focuses on noteworthy red wines, rosé wines, fruit wines and dessert wines.  Those noted are among the judges favorites at the competition, and  wines I tasted while visiting the Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula AVAs after the competition concluded.  Gold and higher award notations are included for those wines entered in this year’s Michigan Wine Competition.

Rosé Wines

Chateau Fontaine 2016 Laughing Waters Rosé; Leelanau Peninsula:  This wildly expressive, well balanced dry Rosé crafted of Pinot Noir is chock full of red fruits.  Raspberry, strawberry, cherry and watermelon join tangerine accents and a dash of herbs creating a rainbow of flavors on the palate.  Lively and easy to quaff, with crisp acidity giving it lift and beautiful balance.  SRP:  $16 www.chateaufontaine.com  (Double Gold/Best of Class)

Black Star Farms 2016 Pinot Noir Blanc; Old Mission Peninsula:  The delicate pale pink tone of this engaging Rosé resulted from a direct-press right off the skins, shares Winemaker Lee Lutes.  This blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc reveals beautiful aromas, and juicy primary fruit on entry. A dazzling mouthful of strawberry, tart cherry, melon, and a splash of citrus enlivens the palate.  Exotic spice kicks in, and lingers through the persistent finish. SRP: $21 www.blackstarfarms.com (Double Gold)

Free Run Cellars 2016 Pinot Meunier Rosé; Lake Michigan Shore:  The brilliant pink sapphire hue is glittering.  Aromas and flavors of berries and spice grab your attention. In the mouth, it is fresh and provocative, with layers of red cherry, blueberry, savory spice, blanched almonds and subtle smoky nuances.  Racy acidity carries this zesty wine to a vibrant finish. SRP: $16.99  www.freeruncellars.com (Gold)

Red Wines

Bel Lago Vineyards & Winery 2006 Pinot Noir; Leelanau Peninsula:  Wow, this Burgundian style Pinot Noir has aged beautifully.  The varietally spot-on aroma is absolutely mesmerizing. Multi-dimensional and refined on the palate as layers of black cherry, dried cranberry, licorice, wild mushroom, toasty oak, hints of sage, and forest floor elements unravel.  Silky in texture and precisely balanced, and the finish goes on endlessly!  www.bellagowinery.com

Bel Lago Vineyards & Winery 2006 PN is likely sold out, but seek out current releases.  The spicy, earthy and elegant 2012 North Vineyard PN, the spicy, uber expressive 2013 North Vineyard PN, and the black cherry, mushroom-dusted 2012 Moreno Vineyard Reserve PN, (wines I tasted with owner/winemaker Charlie Edson) are each equally compelling, and clearly promise cellar worthiness.  I’ve tasted several vintages of Charlie’s PN over the years and continue to be impressed. Not only when the wines are released, but after many years of aging, they are exquisite. SRP:  $30 (North Vineyard 2012), $35 (North Vineyard 2013), $46 Moreno Vineyard Reserve www.bellagowinery.com

Black Star Farms 2013 Leorie Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc; Old Mission Peninsula: This sophisticated blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc broadcasts generous blueberry fruit and mocha on the nose.  Pure and complex with layers of blackberry, blueberry preserves, toffee, roasted coffee bean, and a touch of graphite.  Firmly structured and precisely balanced with firm tannins, and the aftertaste lingers long after the last sip.  This star declares cellar worthiness, too.   SRP:  $42  www.blackstarfarms.com

Mari Vineyards 2013 Bestiary Red; Old Mission Peninsula:  This exemplary red blend, crafted of 60% Blaufränkisch, 30% Zweigelt and 10% Lagrein, offers up an enticing aroma.  Seductive and well balanced in the mouth, as black cherry, blackberry, plum, dried cranberry, earthiness, and savory spice notes interlace.  Skillful aging in neutral French barrels places the understated oak perfectly in the background, and the finish is smooth and long.  SRP:  $24  www.marivineyards.com

Chateau Fontaine 2015 Woodland Red; Leelanau Peninsula:  Aromas of a warm berry pie rise from the glass as you take the first whiff of this palate pleasing dry red blend (40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cab Franc, 12% Merlot and 8% Syrah).  Co-owner Dan Matthies shared that he and his wife Lucie began planting grapes in 1987.  They were the first to grow Syrah in Michigan, and the first to grow Cab Sauv in Leelanau.  This blend is round and luscious with flavors of blackberry, plum, nutmeg spice, blueberry, and earthy notes coating the mouth.  Smoothly textured with firm tannins and a gratifying finish.  SRP:  $36  www.chateaufontaine.com

Hawthorne Vineyards 2012 Bruce’s Blend Pinot Noir; Old Mission Peninsula:  This elegant Pinot Noir, aged in 60% new French oak barrels, opens with hints of violets and cherry cola on the nose.   Complex and nicely structured, it broadens on the palate with cassis, black cherry, Asian tea spices, hints of earthiness and cloves. Silky tannins and toasty oak nuances add further dimension as it makes it way to a charming finale. SRP:  $45 www.hawthornevineyards.com

Brengman Brothers 2013 Crain Hill Vineyards Right Bank; Leelanau Peninsula:  Reminiscent of an old-world style Bordeaux, this stunning blend is crafted of 75% Cab Franc and 25% Merlot.  Deep and complex with well delineated flavors of black fruit, earthiness, cassis, hints of roasted meat, tobacco, graphite and leather.  Exactly balanced with firmly structured tannins and a core of solid fruit speaks clearly to its ageworthiness.   $50 www.brengmanbrothers.com

Brengman Brothers 2015 Cabernet Franc; Leelanau Peninsula:  This 100% Cab Franc wows with its classic aromas of lead pencil shavings and cassis, and flavors march to the same tune.  In the mouth, finely grained tannins frame black currant, dark cherry, roasted red bell pepper, tart cranberry, cedar, roasted beets, graphite and crushed herbs.  Impressive depth and complexity; decant if enjoying now.   $50 www.brengmanbrothers.com

Walloon Lake Winery NV North Arm Noir; Tip of the Mitt:  Here’s a richly textured, highly aromatic dry red wine; a blend of 75% Marquette and 25% Frontenac (French American hybrids). Aromas of forest fruits waft from the glass.  This bold wine delivers delectable layers of blackberry jam, Bing cherry, fresh ground peppercorns and mushrooms to the palate, and hints of caramel linger on the finish. SRP:  $17.99 www.walloonlakewinery.com  (Double Gold/Best of Class)

Lemon Creek Winery NV Pleasant Run Red; Lake Michigan Shore:  If you favor a bit of sweetness in your red wine, this fanciful semi-dry red will please your palate!  Crafted of 80% Chambourcin and 20% Chancellor (French American hybrids), it boasts a deep purple hue and is pleasantly aromatic.  Soft and round on the palate, with bountiful ripe berries and sweet red cherries at the core accented by earth and cedar notes.   SRP:  $10 www.lemoncreekwinery.com  (Gold/Best of Class)

Fruit Wines

Chateau Grand Traverse NV Cherry Reserve; Michigan:  This decadent “port style” wine is brimming with red and black cherry aromas and flavors.  Wonderfully textured and rich on the palate, with notes of caramel, blood orange and chocolate-covered roasted coffee beans joining the dense cherry goodness.  Lovely acidity keeps this gem exactly balanced and you’ll soon be reaching for another pour.  SRP:  $19 www.cgtwines.com  (Double Gold)

Mackinaw Trail Winery NV Blueberry; Michigan:  If you are a fresh blueberry fan, put this on your shopping list!  Pure, balanced and lively, with the essence of blueberries on the nose. This wine also displays a glorious expression on the palate, as it delivers gobs of sweet blueberries, mixed-berry gelato, a touch of candied cherries, and a trace of spice.  A yummy afternoon quaff.  SRP:  $13.50 (Double Gold/Best of Class) www.mackinawtrailwinery.com

Dessert Wines

St Julian Wine Company NV Solera Cream Sherry; Lake Michigan Shore: This heavenly, potent elixir is richly textured and mouth filling, without being cloying.  So seductive is the aroma, you’ll want to linger over the glass before taking the first sip.  Savor the scrumptious tastes of butterscotch pudding with a dollop of orange zest scented whipped cream, cinnamon-dusted almonds, roasted pecans, and crème caramel. Striking acidity keeps it balanced to a T.  SRP:  $15.99  www.stjulian.com (Double Gold/Best of Class)

Black Star Farms NV Sirius Raspberry Dessert Wine; Michigan:  Crafted from estate grown raspberries and fortified with Black Star Farms grape brandy, this port style wine is seriously excellent!  The sheer deliciousness of fresh raspberries takes center stage, with accents of fig jam, orange marmalade and a drop of honey.  Warm and rich on the palate, a simply delectable dessert in a glass.    SRP:  $27.50 (375ml) www.blackstarfarms.com (Gold)

For a full list of the 2017 Michigan Wine Competition results, visit www.michiganwines.com, and for further details check out the individual winery websites.

There are now five AVA’s in Michigan.  In addition to Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula located in the northwest, you’ll find the Fennville AVA and Lake Michigan Shore AVA in the southern part of the state, and the most recently declared AVA (designated in 2016), Tip of the Mitt, located in the north central area of Michigan.  I’ve yet to visit all five, but based on the quality of wines I’ve tasted from Michigan, you can be sure I’ll be planning to so, hopefully in the not-to-distant future.  You may wish to do the same, you’ll be glad you did!

2017 Michigan Wine Competition and Winery Visits, Part l

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

Michigan hits a Grand Slam on 2016 White Wines

Judging the Michigan Wine Competition is always enlightening, this year being no exception!  A total of 380 wines were evaluated, and judges were excited about the quality of wines entered this year.  Of particular note was the significant number of Gold Medal white wines (51) sent to the Sweepstakes rounds.

My ensuing trek to the Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula reinforced what was suggested at the competition; 2016 was indeed one impressive vintage in this cool climate wine region.  The sparkling and white wines noted are among the judges favorites at the competition, and wines I tasted while visiting these two picturesque AVAs after the competition concluded.  Gold and higher award notations are included for those wines entered in this year’s Michigan Wine Competition.

Sparkling Wines

Mawby NV Grace Brut Rosé; Leelanau Peninsula: Produced in the traditional method, this dazzling bubble is a blend of 98% Pinot Noir and 2% Regent (a dark-skinned hybrid grape). Aromas of fresh baked pie crust lead the way, followed by red raspberry, red cherry, wild blackberry, blood orange, and a sprinkling of spice. A brilliant thread of acidity caps off the lively, lip-smacking package.  SRP:  $23 www.lmawby.com  (Gold/Best of Class)

Mawby NV Talisman Brut, also from the Leelanau Peninsula AVA, has long been a favorite of mine.  This sparkling wine, a blend of Vignoles, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay is one I’ve followed year after year.  Opening with classic yeasty aromas on the nose, it bursts onto the palate with vibrancy.  A stream of tiny bubbles transports crisp apples, star fruit, brioche, citrus, hints of toasty oak, and blanched almonds to a lifted finish.  SRP: $37 www.lmawby.com

Black Star Farms NV Delighted; Leelanau Peninsula:  This charismatic sweet sparkling Rosé bubbly is aptly named, it will keep you delighted!  Crafted of Frontenac Gris, it’s crisp and fresh, and the sweetness is balanced by a good level of acidity.  Floral aromas drive you into the glass, and succulent strawberry, raspberry sorbet, and watermelon flavors accented by sweet Meyer lemon and a touch of spice simply dance on the palate.  SRP: $15.50 www.blackstarfarms.com (Gold)

Shady Lane Cellars 2016 Estate Sparkling Riesling; Leelanau Peninsula:  Bright and lean, this Sparkling Riesling showcases a steady stream of pinpoint bubbles and a lovely Riesling fruit profile, pleasing the eye, the nose and the palate.  Loaded with juicy sun-ripened peaches, nectarines, crisp pears, a touch of minerality, crushed herbs and lime zest, it engages from first, to last refreshing sip.  SRP:  $25 www.shadylanecellars.com

White Wines

Verterra Winery 2016 Dry Riesling; Leelanau Peninsula:  Delightfully expressive aromas and a bright entry completely wakes up the senses.  Perfectly balanced and lively as white peach, pear sorbet, lemon verbena, and wet stone minerality entwine on the palate.  Racy acidity provides a solid backbone, and the well-defined flavors extend from the moment it hits your lips, to the prolonged finale. SRP: ~$16 www.verterrawinery.com (Gold/Best of Class)

Bel Lago Vineyards and Winery NV Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay; Leelanau Peninsula:  This snappy dry white blend, crafted of 75% Pinot Grigio (2015) and 25% Chardonnay (2016), really hits the spot.  Fresh and bright with green apples, Asian pears, tropical fruits, subtle oak nuances, and lemon-lime accents enlivening the palate.  Well balanced and shimmering through the final drop.   SRP:  $14 www.bellagowinery.com (Double Gold)

Bel Lago Vineyards & Winery 2016 Gewurztraminer; Leelanau Peninsula:  A stellar new world Gewurz that broadcasts a captivating floral aroma.  Energetic flavors of lychee, papaya, fresh guava juice, minerality, a touch of spice, and orange zest create a kaleidoscope of flavors from the minute this wine hits your lips.  The balance is immaculate, the mouth feel is satin smooth, and the aftertaste lingers on and on.  SRP:  $18 www.bellagowinery.com

Black Star Farms 2016 Arcturos Semi-Dry Riesling; Michigan:  The inviting aroma of fresh picked peaches and cream entrances the senses.  The palate echoes the fresh peaches on the nose, which intertwine harmoniously with nectarine, minerally notes, honeysuckle and citrus-flecked Gala apples.  Bracing acidity keeps it meticulously balanced through the polished finish, and the silky texture is divine.   SRP:  ~$18.00 www.blackstarfarms.com (Gold)

Brengman Brothers 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay; Leelanau Peninsula:  Focused and steely with razor sharp acids, this sleek Chardonnay shows off the purity of the grape.  Crisp Granny Smith apples laced with bright lemon citrus notes, beeswax, a suggestion of brioche, and honeysuckle caress the palate.  The balance is spot on, and the flavors linger well beyond the last sip.  Watch for the 2016 vintage soon to be released, it should be another beauty.  SRP:  $30  www.brengmanbrothers.com

Brengman Brothers 2013 Estate Crain Hill Vineyards Riesling Spatlese; Leelanau Peninsula:  Wet stone aromas remind me of a walk along a babbling brook.  This elegant, medium sweet Riesling is multi-layered, with nectarines, crisp pears, tree ripened peaches, and candied orange lifted by racy acidity. Lean and well balanced with a persistent, mouthwatering finish.   (Their 2016 Riesling Spatlese is not yet released.)   $24.95 www.brengmanbrothers.com (Gold)

Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery 2016 Pinot Blanc; Old Mission Peninsula:  This extraordinary Pinot Blanc immediately engages the senses with its captivating aroma. Mouthwateringly delicious from the start, with passion fruit, guava, sweet tangerine, minerally notes, crisp apples and citrus blossom accents cascading onto the palate.  Fresh and fine-tuned with exacting balance and a long, memorable finish.  SRP:  $25 www.brysestate.com

Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery 2016 Dry Riesling; Old Mission Peninsula:  Crisp and bright with a fine thread of minerality, this stunning Riesling displays classic cool climate Riesling.  Lean and pure with flavors of white peaches, nectarines and dried apricots harmonizing with the minerality.  A kick of citrus on the finish adds just the right touch.  Beautifully structured and balanced from start to finish.  SRP: $22 www.brysestate.com

Tabor Hill Winery 2016 Gewurztraminer; Lake Michigan Shore:  An inviting perfumed aroma greets the nose at first whiff with this thirst quenching Gewurz.  Bright, and true to variety with flavors of lychee, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, mango, and apricot preserves joining minerality and honeysuckle notes flowing across the palate.  A brilliant finish caps it off perfectly.  SRP:  ~$12 www.taborhill.com (Double Gold/Best of Class)

Chateau Fontaine 2016 Pinot Blanc; Leelanau Peninsula:  Fresh sliced pineapple aromas wafting from the glass get the juices flowing. This well-crafted Pinot Blanc is lush and layered, with banana chips, grilled pineapple, hints of toast, sautéed apple, almond paste and crushed herb accents flowing across the palate, pure and finely balanced.    SRP: $18  www.chateaufontaine.com  (Gold)

Left Foot Charley 2016 Le Caban Riesling; Old Mission Peninsula: Intense aromatics and flavors confidently proclaim Riesling here!  Stone fruit and minerality abound, with a razor sharp level of acidity that catapults this wine to great heights.  Finely structured with well delineated peach, lime-accented nectarine, Honeycrisp apple and subtle herbs, it is clear-cut and spirited all the way through.  SRP: $18  www.leftfootcharley.com (Double Gold)

Left Foot Charley 2016 OMP Riesling; Old Mission Peninsula:  Wet stone minerality on the nose lays claim to what’s in the glass.  Peach, nectarine and lemon-lime soda join minerally notes that are echoed on the palate.  The succulent fruit meets up with striking acids creating a colorful explosion of flavors on the palate; and the finish is long lasting.  SRP:  $20 www.leftfootcharley.com

Left Foot Charley Hard Cider:  I would be remiss not to mention the delicious hard ciders crafted by Winemaker/Cidermaker Bryan Ulbrich, as well.  Favorites include The Cunning Ham, a rustic, dry hard cider; Antrim County Hard Cider, a juicy and fresh hard cider with rockin’ acidity; and their spicy Cinnamon Girl Cider, that will take you back to Grandma’s warm, spiced apple pie! www.leftfootcharley.com

Hawthorne Winery 2016 Pinot Blanc; Old Mission Peninsula:  Tasting this, another magnificently crafted Pinot Blanc, got me thinking that this variety may be just as ideally suited to plant in Michigan as Riesling and other aromatic whites that stand out here.  This stylish Pinot Blanc is delicately floral on the nose, with broad flavors of Golden Delicious apples, tropical melon, hazelnuts, citrusy elements and underlying minerality.   SRP:  $18 www.hawthornevineyards.com

Chateau Grand Traverse 2016 Block Twelve Riesling; Old Mission Peninsula:  Aromas of crushed stone arouse the senses with this juicy, medium dry Riesling.  Sun ripened peaches, grapefruit, candied citrus peel and minerally notes entwine seamlessly.   Nicely weighted with zippy acidity, and refreshing crushed herbs peeking through on the engaging finish.  SRP:  $19  www.chateaugrandtraverse.com (Gold)

St. Julian Winery 2016 Braganini Reserve Traminette; Lake Michigan Shore:  Heavenly aromas of tropical fruit lead the way with this sassy semi-dry Traminette (French American hybrid). Mouthfilling flavors of melon, sweet peaches, fresh apricots, lychee, a pinch of spice, and lemon meringue pie are offset by a firm backbone of acidity.  SRP:  $14.99 www.stjulian.com  (Gold)

Shady Lane Cellars 2016 Hennessey Vineyard Pinot Gris; Leelanau Peninsula:  Winemaker Kasey Wierzba conveys that the grapes for this gem are from the southern facing slope of their estate Hennessey Vineyard. Velvety in texture and deliciously dry, it bursts with aromas and flavors of stone fruit, honeydew melon, mango and a pinch of herbs, finishing with a pleasing note of chamomile tea, a sunny, flavorful Pinot Gris.   SRP:  $16 www.shadylanecellars.com

Mari Vineyards 2016 Gruner Veltliner (pre-release tank sample); Old Mission Peninsula:  Gruner is one of my favorite white varieties, and this sample assures me I’ve found another winning example.  Zesty and fresh with classic white pepper on the nose.  On the palate, grapefruit, guava, fresh pea shoots and chamomile flavors are unveiled, with a clear thread of minerality. Aging on the lees adds texture, spice and complexity.  Already uber expressive, watch for this wine’s release, soon.  Winemaker Sean O’Keefe also crafted Sezession, the first sparkling Gruner Veltliner I have ever tasted; another superb gem!

Stay tuned for the continuation of this article:  Part 2, Noteworthy Red Wines, Rosé Wines, Fruit Wines and Dessert Wines, to be posted shortly.

Meanwhile, for a full list of the 2017 Michigan Wine Competition results, visit www.michiganwines.com, and for further details, check out the individual winery websites.

 

 

 

 

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.