Northern Michigan Wine: Northern Michigan Wineries & Rosé Revelations

Northern Michigan Wine: Between the bright acids and orchard fruit revelations of white wines and the sultry, cerebral depths of red wines there is rosé and its pink universe of possibility. Once unjustly maligned for its perceived likeness to white zinfandel, that industrial plonk of the 80s, rosé is undergoing a renaissance, and our vintners in Leelanau and Old Mission are kicking out some of the best cool climate blush this side of the Atlantic.

Crafted according to the saignée method (French ‘to bleed’) where juice is bled from the bottom of the fermentation tank of parent red wine or by simply reducing skin contact with the juice before fermentation. This results in a pure expression of red fruit character, bright acidity, very little tannin and coloration running from pale salmon to bright garnet. Rosé should be drunk chilled and is uncommonly versatile on the dinner table, complementing salmon, charcuterie, young cheeses and June afternoons.

Bowers Harbor Rosé of Pinot Noir 2011

These young vines were specifically earmarked for rosé and flash floral aromas beneath a fruit core of strawberry, cranberry and melon.

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Bel Lago Brut Rosé 2009

This petillant party of pinot noir, Auxerrois and chardonnay offers white peach, strawberry and red apple notes that finish dry amid tight, persistent bubbles.

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Chateau Chantal Twilight Rosé NV

For those that like a soupçon of sweetness in their pink wine, Twilight blends local riesling with 5% malbec from Chantal’s satellite vineyards resulting in something like watermelon candy.


Two Lads Cabernet Franc Rosé 2011

Described as sexy by both lads, the 2011 Cabernet Franc Rosé has terrific richness along with notes of rhubarb, red berry and vanilla.

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Verterra Pinot Noir Rosé 2011

Newcomers Verterra rock out this racy award-winning rosé of pinot noir that is dry, crisp and abundantly delicious with notes of tart cherry, white pepper and strawberry.

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Willow Vineyard Baci Rosé 2011

Owner, John Crampton calls this saignée a ‘bright bowl of cherries in your glass.’ Dry and delightful.

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Vino File

John Crampton – Owner, Willow Vineyards

John Crampton and his wife Jo crested the hill above Larry Mawby’s property some 34 years ago, spotted a ‘for sale’ sign and thereafter found themselves in the wine business. Though they operate one of Leelanau’s smallest wineries, with an annual output around 1,000 cases, the Cramptons excel at pinot noir, chardonnay and rosé. This June we corner John to talk pink wine and its place alongside early summer salads.

Your Baci Rosé has a cult following among the few who can get their hands on it, tell me about the roots of this wine.

Baci is bled from our tanks of pinot noir, the vineyard for which was one of the first we planted in ’93. This particular site is unique on our property in that it has a clay substrate that traps moisture and minerals for the vines. Jo and I prefer our rosés very dry and fresh, and we’re happy too see our customers respond so well to the Baci.

What’s the favorite food pairing for dry rosé at the Crampton house?

We really like to pair with an early summer salad of local strawberries, mixed greens, fresh chèvre, slivered almonds and ginger vinaigrette.

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