Old Mission is back. After two devastatingly meager harvests—in 2014 and 2015—that tested the mettle of grapevine and winemaker alike, 2016 provided a long, warm growing season that powered near-perfect phenolic ripeness and above-average crop yields.
Red wines are still resting in barrel for another six months or more, but there’s a raft of ripe and luscious rieslings, pinot blancs and chardonnays to swirl and sip in the meantime. White wine grapes developed so quickly last year that many growers opted to pick slightly early in order to maintain the crisp acidity and precision our region is known for.
Even so, this spring’s new releases, from riesling to chardonnay, are showy, aromatically supercharged and textural. With production levels still in recovery mode and two years of pent-up demand for local vino, the best bottlings won’t last long. Hit the Old Mission tasting trail with an empty trunk and stock up early.
Read on for a list of favorite comeback picks from the Old Mission Peninsula vine cartel.
This article is featured in the May 2017 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.
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Riesling Smokey Hollow Vineyard 2016
Heavy clay deposits in the vineyard coupled with a warm dry fall concentrated ripe peach and apricot notes in this signature medium-dry riesling from Bowers Harbor. Look for apple blossom aromas underpinned with petrol.
Naked Chardonnay Reserve 2016
Flashy tropical fruit on the nose and fleshy mid-palate texture make Brys’ unoaked estate chardonnay a perfect pairing for sautéed walleye with ramps and asparagus.
Chateau Grand Traverse
Gamay Noir Reserve 2013
Something of a cult classic at CGT, this gamay noir from 30-year-old vines wrapped up its three-year stint in wood to hit the street with abundant black pepper, cherry, chocolate and tobacco tones.
Chateau Chantal Pinot Noir 2015
Chantal’s winemaking team blended minuscule amounts of fruit from all of their plantings to assemble this nuanced pinot noir that shows strawberry, cedar and spice.
Hawthorne Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2016
Lean and dry with laser-beam acidity and an apple citrus soul, Brian Hosmer’s 2016 pinot blanc is a bright distillation of spring itself.
Mari Vineyards Malvasia Bianca 2016
Winemaker Sean O’Keefe and the team at Mari unleash the OMP first-ever malvasia bianca, an aromatic white grape native to Northern Italy. The wine is dry and deliciously dominated by ruby red grapefruit notes.
Peninsula Cellars Gewurztraminer Manigold Vineyard 2016
Harvested from a tiny two-acre vineyard, John Kroupa’s Manigold bottling has long been considered the benchmark for local gewürztraminer. Classic grapefruit peel and rose petal aromas with a lightly spicy finish.
2 Lads Riesling 2016
Winemaker Cornel Olivier is stoked about this rich, ripe riesling off his home vineyard, calling its chemistry reminiscent of New Zealand with aromatic tropical and citrus fruits laid over a lush textural mouthfeel.
Traverse Magazine’s food and drinks editor Tim Tebeau writes from Petoskey. [email protected]