Michigan wine 2019

michigan wine 2019Michigan wine 2019: Another regional wine state that offers quality – and even value

One of Drink Local Wine’s great regrets was that we were never able to do Michigan wine. The state had some of the best regional wine in the country, and its efforts have only improved since then.

I know this because I was lucky enough to get Michigan wine samples last fall, and the quality was consistent and impressive. Wine is made throughout the state, but the best known region is along the northwestern Lake Michigan shore, centered around Traverse City. That means weather is a challenge every year, and cold, snow, and ice have wreaked havoc with any number of vintages. Riesling is its trademark grape, but some cold climate reds are also outstanding.

The following wines were the best I tasted – all were samples. Availability may be limited in other parts of the country.

Chateau Grand Traverse Dry Resling 2017 ($14, 12%): One of regional wine’s biggest challenges is producing affordable products, but this long-time Michigan producer has done just that. It’s a little tight, but reflects Michigan’s style and terror — almost stone fruit instead of citrus; a crisp, steely finish; and an appealing and pleasing riesling softness. Highly recommended.

Mari Vineyards Gamay Noir 2017 ($26, 13%): This red is a trifle pricey, but impeccably made and just as delicious. Again, a terroir-driven wine that is less fruity (tart cherry, perhaps?) and more noticeably spicy than a Beaujolais from France, which is also made with gamay. This vintage is sold out, but if the 2018 is anything close to the 2017, it’s a must buy.

2 Lads Cabernet Franc 2016 ($35, 13.5%): This is an intriguing approach to cabernet franc, a red grape that does well in many regional states and is best known as the red from the Loire in France. It doesn’t have the pencil lead that marks some Loire wines, and it’s not as fruity as a west coast label. Instead, it features blackberry fruit and baking spice, plus an almost zesty mouth feel. It’s well made and top quality, but the price is a problem.

Chateau Chantal Proprietor’s Reserve Trio 2016 ($27, 13.5%): Excellent example of what Michigan can do with a red blend. It’s brisk and spicy with well-developed berry fruit. There’s an appealingly lean structure, save for a bit of ashy heaviness on the back and a touch too much oak.

Hawthorne Vineyards Rose 2016 ($12, 13.2%): A dry pink wine that is heavier than I prefer, but still well made and rose-like — dark raspberry and strawberry fruit. And, again, an affordable price.

Peninsula Cellars Late Harvest Riesling 2016 ($19, 8.5%): This white dessert wine is just so close to being the kind that wins double gold medals and best in shows. It’s sweet – think honey and ripe peaches – balanced by an almost fresh orange juice acidity. That’s where it falls just a smidge short, since a little more acidity would balance the sweetness. But it’s still a delicious wine and well worth the price.

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4 thoughts on “Michigan wine 2019

  • By J. Cassedy - Reply

    Thanks for this good article (and all the other ones). I, too, wish Drink Local Wine had made it to Michigan. Way too many years ago, my wife and I made a trip up to Michigan, and ended up in Leelanau vinicultural area, where we got to meet Bernard Rink of Boskydel Vineyards. He was a great character and made wines from the “hardier” stock of wine grapes. Sadly, Boskydel closed a couple of years ago, and Mr. Rink died at a hardy age not too long ago. Sort of a passing of an era of early local wine making. Must make it up there again, very soon.

  • By Robert Frank - Reply

    Bernie Rink was a character, in all meanings of the word. He was adamant that the future of Michigan wine was in Hybrid grapes. He could argue endlessly that vinifera grapes were ill suited for Northwest Michigan’s climate. I didn’t visit his Boskydel Winery near the end of his career, but I would surmise that he was very unlikely to have ever changed his opinion.
    He did have a beautiful location overlooking Lake Leelenau that was a great location for vineyards. He was one of the early pioneers of Michigan wine. He is missed.

  • By Sarah - Reply

    The graphic at the top does not include the Tip of the Mitt AVA! We have five 🙂

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