Northern Michigan Wine: May is the penultimate month for wine releases in Northern Michigan tasting rooms. Michigan oenophiles are ecstatic at the prospect of two of the best vintages in recent memory existing simultaneously. 2010 saw relatively low yields on account of frost but above-average sugar levels and optimal phenolic ripeness across the board; vintners have released barrel-aged chardonnays over the winter and are bringing online red varietals like cabernet franc, pinot noir and blaufränkisch this spring. 2011 closely mirrors the quality of 2010, but the near-perfect growing conditions that prevailed from season start to season finish resulted in record yields. Look for characteristically fresh, well-balanced acid levels in the whites and rich, structured reds that can benefit from some bottle aging.

2010 Brengman Brothers Reserve Dry Riesling

Sourced from the southeast-facing slope of Block 3 on Crain Hill, this Reserve bottling sings with vibrant citrus tones and finishes dry with plenty of bright acidity. Brengman Brothers, 9720 S. Center Highway, Traverse City (231) 946-2764

2011 Shady Lane Semi-Dry Riesling

Shady Lane winemaker Adam Satchwell touts the 2011 semi-dry as his most gorgeously aromatic riesling to date. Look for exuberant floral, apricot and honeysuckle aromas with impressive balance and texture. 2.4% residual sugar. Shady Lane Cellars, 9400 East Shady Lane, Traverse City (231) 935-1620

2011 Two Lads Fouch Vineyard Riesling

The five-acre Fouch vineyard produces outstanding fruit from two different plantings, and the 2011 shows loads of star fruit, peach and pineapple on the nose, an intriguing mineral edge on the palate with a little sweetness to balance the acidity. 2 Lads Winery, 16985 Smokey Hollow Road, Traverse City (231) 223-7722

2011 Peninsula Cellars Pinot Grigio

The ripeness and abundance of the 2011 vintage saw Peninsula Cellars embracing a lighter, brighter more citrus-driven pinot grigio. Bright pineapple and lime notes make this a perfect spring sipper. Peninsula Cellars, 11480 Center Road, Old Misson Peninsula, Traverse City (231) 933-9787

2011 Chateau Grand Traverse Lot 49 Riesling

The ripeness and abundance of the 2011 vintage saw Peninsula Sean O’Keefe’s most cerebral riesling to date, the Lot 49 embraces a classic fruit profile with stone fruit and citrus tones above a remarkably textured palate resulting from meticulous vinification and maturation in a 1,200 liter oak Stück. Chateau Grand Traverse, 12239 Center Road, Traverse City (231) 223-7355

2011 Brys Estate Pinot Blanc

Brys’s pure and pleasurable 2011 pinot blanc offer copious aromas of golden delicious apple and lemon crème. The wine’s generous mouth feel is kept lively with a racy acid level balanced perfectly with vestigial sweetness. Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery, 3309 Blue Water Road, Traverse City (231) 223-9303

2010 Black Star Farms Arcturos Pinot Noir

The lovechild of a ripe, low-yielding vintage, slow fermentation and quality French oak barrels, Black Star’s 2010 pinot noir shows uncommon complexity with layers of ripe cherry and baking spices. Pair with morel mushrooms. Black Star Farms, 10844 E. Revold Road, Suttons Bay (231) 944-1270

2005 Bowers Harbor Reserve Cuvée Evan Blanc de Noirs Brut

Newly disgorged after 62 months of aging, this highly limited and superbly delicious blend of equal parts chadonnay and pinot noir from the Bowers estate vineyards blesses the bubble lover with creamy texture and notes of almond and apple with elegant yeastiness reminiscent of great champagne. Fill flutes and celebrate spring! Bowers Harbor Vineyard, 2896 Bowers Harbor Road, Traverse City (231) 223-7615

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