April Wine Pour: Five Northern Michigan Chardonnays

Northern Michigan wineries are growing chardonnays that reflect generations of commitment to growing fruit on both the Old Mission Peninsula and the Leelanau Peninsula. Revered by some as the perfect grape and maligned by others as the housewife’s anesthesia, chardonnay is an oeno-chameleon whose tenacity and abundant crop yields are exploited in commercial swill, but whose profound capacity to express flavors of manifold fruits and minerals also make it a sublime foundation for the world’s priciest wines. Loved by winemakers for its textural versatility, chardonnay can be round and supple or lean and bracing according to style. With the excitement of spring release time, we map out the local chard scene, highlighting a few producers and their interpretations of this noble grape.

Black Star Farms

With strong nods toward traditional Burgundian technique, winemaker Lee Lutes offers a rockin’ lean, un-oaked sur lie chard under the Arcturos label as well as a richer barrel-fermented wine from the Isidor’s Choice vineyard.

Two Lads

With one bottling, the Lads shoot for the chardonnay equator, sourcing balanced fruit and fermenting in unique large French oak tanks to maximize aromatics and impart a pleasant ghost of wood.

Peninsula Cellars

Treated with glass and steel, just like a Norman Foster building, the wine is likewise bright, angular and fully exposed.

Bel Lago

Winemaker Charlie Edson swings for the fences with a big, creamy style that is barrel fermented and aged sur lie in French and American oak.

Bowers Harbor Winery

Bowers produces a lovely middle-weight unwooded chard as well as the rounder, more intense RLS Reserve that’s suitable for cellaring.

Wine Tips, Tours and Travel in Traverse City, Old Mission and Leelanau

Article Comments

  • Anonymous

    I wonder – do they all advertise in your magazine?
    If they advertise – they get articles right?

  • Anonymous

    Ma’am / Sir — Thank you for asking this very important question. Please know that there is no connection between mentions in the wine department and paid advertising, which is the same policy that exists throughout our publications and online media. — Jeff Smith, Editor

  • Anonymous

    Really – that’s not the word on the Street. Buy an ad and get a mention, or don’t buy one and get left out.

  • Anonymous

    Ma’am/Sir — Thanks again for follow up. For a little more clarification, Tim Tebeau, our food and wine editor, lives and works in Petoskey, so he is naturally a step removed from the day to day chatter in the organization about who is advertising in any particular issue, but beyond that, he has never once sat in on an advertising sales meeting and, to my knowledge, has never spoken directly to one of our advertising sales representatives. Also, neither I nor our managing editor, Lissa Edwards, make a point of mentioning who is advertising when we discuss topics. And, generally the planning for topics almost always happens well before even the ad sales people know who will be advertising in a given issue. So, bottom line is Tim knows wine, Lissa and I do not, so those choices are pretty much entirely up to him and his independent opinions. Having been in publishing for several years, and while serving on a school board, I have become keenly aware that people often infer intent from things that are more coincidence than correlation, and I am guessing that people might see ads from larger wineries and see that they also get mentioned and draw the conclusion that you refer to–advertise and get mentioned–but larger wineries also put out a lot of wine, host lots of events and are more likely to be active in the industry, and so we might tend to write about them more. But clearly one of our jobs is to tell the broad tale of wine Up North and we definitely want to do that, so if you have wine ideas you’d like to discuss with Tim, I encourage you to write or call him (734-395-3010 / [email protected]). I’m sure he’d be happy to discuss. Or if you have further questions about our editorial policies, please call or write to me ([email protected] / 231-941-5318). Thanks again for writing and giving us the chance to discuss what I feel is one of the most important aspects of our work. Best to you. Jeff Smith, Editor