The most cerebral and democratically satisfying of the seven noble wine grapes, Riesling is Northern Michigan’s oeno claim to fame. A native grape of Germany’s Rheingau region, Riesling was first planted here by Chateau Grand Traverse proprietor Ed O’Keefe in the 1970s and has seen nonstop proliferation ever since. Cold-hardy and harnessing a vast flavor spectrum determined by ripeness and vineyard site, local rieslings run from dry and lean with laser-beam acidity to fleshy, opulent sweetness. Here are five Northern Michigan Rieslings that explore the grape’s entire spectrum of flavors:
Left Foot Charley Seventh Hill Farm Riesling 2012
- Modeled after the Mosel greats, Brian Ulbrich’s best left foot for- ward scored the coveted Jefferson Cup two years in a row and flashes a big, tropical bouquet balanced on a brilliant duality of sweetness and acidity.
Chateau Grand Traverse Lot 49 Riesling 2012
- Echoing the complex delights of a Thomas Pynchon novel, Lot 49 approaches medium-dry with orchard fruit notes, fresh acids and terrific texture from its aging in big German oak vats.
2 Lads 2L Riesling 2012
- This eponymous bottling from the Lads showcases the full sexiness of the 2012 vintage: heady apple, citrus and floral aromas on a rich albeit balanced frame that finishes dry.
Black Star Farms Montague Estate Vineyard Dry Riesling 2011
- The first in a new series of vineyard-designated wines from Black Star, the Montague Vineyard Rieslings sing with golden apple, ripe apricot and a soupçon of spice. Dry, bright and indicative of the classic 2011 vintage.
Chateau Fontaine Semi-Sweet White Riesling 2012
- Garnering the prestigious John Rose award, Dan Matthies’s 2012 semi-sweet riesling distills the fleshy, flashy orchard fruit aromatics available in a super ripe vintage. Sweetness and acidity are in delicious harmony, keeping the wine fresh and imminently quaffable.