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Old Mission Peninsula is only 4 miles wide at its widest point and stretches out into Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay

by Andrew Chalk

Michigan may not be the state that springs to mind when one thinks of wine growing areas. Too cold, you might think. However, due to nature’s miracle of meso climates there are areas sufficiently protected from weather extremes that vinifera grapes can grow and, as this tasting revealed to me, thrive. This selection came from the Old Mission Peninsula AVA, an area with nine wineries growing riesling, chardonnay, pinot grigio, pinot noir, merlot, and cabernet franc. As well as these table wines they also make sparkling and ice wines.

2017 Chateau Grand Traverse Dry Riesling, Old Mission Peninsula, MI ($13)

Appearance: Bright straw;

Nose: Lemon, vanilla, herbaceous elements;

Taste: Medium plus acid, green apple, lemon, grapefruit;

2016 Black Star Farms, Sauvignon Blanc, Arcturos, Leelanau Peninsula, MI ($18)

A: Light straw;

N: Very herbaceous. Hints of lemon;

T: Medium sweet. Rich citrus fruit;

2016 Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery Pinot Noir Reserve, Old Mission Peninsula, MI ($32)

A: Brick red translucent center. Transparent rim;

N: Earthy pinot noir redolent of Burgundy expressions. Strawberries, forest floor, herbs;

T: Medium plus acid, medium minus tannins, forward strawberry fruit, some stemminess but not too pronounced. Medium minus length of finish but pleasant;

2016 Chateau Chantal, ‘Trio’, Proprietor’s Reserve, Old Mission Peninsula, MI ($27)

A: Translucent cherry core leading to a brick red rim;

N: Raspberry fruit, tomoto leaf, spices;

T: Medium plus acid, soft tannins, raspberry fruit;

2017 Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Chardonnay ‘Unwooded’, Michigan ($16)

A: Light straw.

N: Lemon, cantaloupe, green apples;

T: Medium-plus acidity, lean citric fruit;

Best with food. Consider white fish, pork or poultry;

2017 mari Vineyards Gamay Noir, Old Mission Peninsula, MI ($26)

A: Translucent brick red core leading to transparent rim;

N: Cherries, black pepper notes;

T: Medium acid, light-bodied, soft tannins, cherry flavors. A delicate, feminine example of the hallmark grape of Beaujolais. As an attempt to recreate the style of cru Beaujolais this wine can be said to be successful. Ideally serve with food. Pork, turkey, game birds would all work a treat.

2016 Peninsula Cellars Late Harvest Riesling, Old Mission Peninsula, MI ($19)

A: Light gold;

N: Honey, petrol, fresh cut grass;

T: Medium plus sweetness. Medium acid. Medium plus body. Flavors of honey, ripe cooking apples, peach, blood orange;

2016 2 Lads Cabernet Franc, Old Mission Peninsula, MI ($35)

A: Translucent ruby-red core leading to transparent edge;

N: Ripe raspberries, hints of bell pepper (pyrazines), violets;

T: Medium acid, raspberries. More body would be a plus. More mid-palate as well.

2016 Hawthorne Vineyards Rosé, Old Mission Peninsula, MI ($12)

A: Sunset red, touches of brown;

N: Peach, strawberry, ripe yellow apples;

T: Medium plus acidity, dry, edge of tannin;

A blend of 40% cabernet franc, 26% pinot meunier, 13% merlot, 12% pinot noir, 9% gamay;


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About Me

Andrew Chalk is a Dallas-based author who writes about wine, spirits, beer, food, restaurants, wineries and destinations all over the world.

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