Northern Michigan Wines: With the spring sipping season in full swing,  we’ve selected some freshly bottled vernal vinos that harness the bright essence of May Up North and are some of the first new releases to hit the tasting rooms. The 2010 Northern Michigan harvest is being touted by our local grape mavens as one of the finest on record, owing to the abundance of warmth and sunshine last summer and fall that allowed grapes to achieve optimal ripeness and above-average sugar levels. The cooler 2009 Northern Michigan vintage will also figure into the tasting room scene and while red production was limited, many of the whites have a vibrant acid backbone that pairs well with lighter spring cuisine.

Two Lads Pinot Grigio 2010 Old Mission Peninsula, Traverse CityChalky, wet-stone mineral notes and brilliant fruit.

Black Star Farms Sur Lie Chardonnay 2010, Leelanau PeninsulaUn-oaked with citrus and pineapple flavors followed by herbaceous floral notes.

Chateau Grand Traverse, Traverse City, Ship of Fools 2009, 2009 takes on the entire pinot trifecta: ‘blanc for finesse, gris for power and noir for bouquet and ageability.’

Peninsula Cellars, Traverse City, Homework Rosé of Pinot Noir 2010 Sweet, pink and flippantly delicious with loads of strawberry and watermelon.

 Chris Baldyga Owner, Two Lads Winery, Old Mission, Traverse CityRaised among the vines, Two Lads owner and native son Chris Baldyga returned to Traverse City in 2006 and reconnected with winemaker and other Lad, Cornel Olivier, to launch Northern Michigan’s hottest young wine venture. We catch up with Chris to talk tasting room innovation and the charms of the 2010 vintage.

We know the wines are good and getting better, but what is the Two Lads experience moving toward?

Our goal in progress is to offer a more intimate tasting experience and break away from the old ‘get ’em in, get ’em out’ factory approach. We’re trying to develop an atmosphere where our guests have time to delve into the glass and learn how the wine got there and why it tastes like it does. Everyone can benefit from being cork-dork for a day.

Northern Michigan’s 2010 vintage is getting a lot of positive hype, how did it shake out at Two Lads?

The wines are made not only drier but softer than 2009 thanks to the high quality of the fruit at harvest. We got to pick everything from the vineyards when acidity and ripeness were in superb balance. Our Pinot Noir Reserve, due out in 2012, will be a defining wine for Two Lads.

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