Don your sun hat and put the top down this month as we cruise through some of the Old Mission Peninsula’s latest Northern Michigan Wine releases. Find the original spread in the July 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.
High summer on the Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City means spectacular hilltop vistas of leafy riesling and cabernet franc vines rolling toward the water, while convoys of wine tourists snake along the scenic highways. Vignerons worked hard to scratch a harvest from the cold, wet 2014 season, but those with patience and meticulous vineyard work managed to make some fine, racy whites and tasty rosés. While little is forthcoming in the way of 2014 reds, the 2012 and 2013 vintages produced some remarkably ripe and structured pinot noirs, cabernet francs and merlots that have seen extended barrel and cellar aging and have made their way into tasting rooms over the last six months. In the white realm, the bright acids and linear verve of the 2014 class will provide excellent al fresco sipping under the warm summer sun or in the company of fresh Great Lakes fish.
Winemaker extraordinaire Coenraad Stassen cultivated his cabernet franc, pinot noir and merlot vines with the specific intention of crafting a fine 2014 rosé. Short skin contact and slow, cold fermentation teased out pretty red fruit and watermelon aromas that make for a seriously tasty Signature pink.
Low yields in both of Bowers’ signature riesling vineyards necessitated a marriage to eke out 189 cases of this namesake riesling. There’s serious sweetness to counter the laser-like malic acids, and the wine sings with ripe pear and fennel notes.
This historically ripe harvest of cabernet franc was heavily selected and allowed to age in French oak barrique for two years to develop poetic layers of vanilla, dark fruit and cocoa. Uncork this powerhouse with grilled lamb chops.
Vinified entirely in stainless steel, Peninsula Cellars 2014 chardonnay shows plenty of pineapple and tropical fruit notes backed by green apple acidity and a barely perceptible soupçon of sweetness.
Winemaker Brian Hosmer has teased compelling tropical and apricot notes out of this groovy Alsatian grape. A stint in neutral barrel lends extra texture, dimension and lightly honeyed finish.