5 Northern Michigan chardonnay varietals from Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsula wineries surrounding Traverse City.

Butter, biscuit dough, pineapple, quince paste; a universe of descriptors has evolved around the compound charms of chardonnay, America’s top selling varietal. The grape’s relatively high natural acidity allows it to counterbalance rich foods, and its ability to assimilate oak aging lends textural unctuousness that welcomes standalone sipping. In warmer vintages like 2012, local chardonnay vines can produce richly concentrated fruit that shows some of the lush, sexy texture associated with iconic bottlings. This month we sip superb chardonnays from the celebrated 2012 Northern Michigan vintage.

Blustone Vineyards Chardonnay 2012 Leelanau Peninsula
Given the naked treatment, Blustone’s 2012 bottling was fermented in stainless steel to emphasize freshness and capitalize on the effusive aromatics of the fruit. Pineapple and peach notes on the nose, crisp and dry on the palate.

Bowers Harbor RLS Reserve Chardonnay 2012 
Old Mission Peninsula
Sourced from Old Mission’s Nicholas Vineyard, the RLS Chardonnay sings with ripe golden apple, candied citrus and butterscotch notes. Expect this wine to put on weight with additional bottle aging.

Hawthorne Vineyards Barrel Reserve Chardonnay
 2012 Old Mission Peninsula
Fat and sassy, Hawthorne’s Barrel Reserve brings together toasty oak and rich golden fruit with underpinnings of spice and creamy texture from the lees.

2 Lads Chardonnay 2012 Old Mission Peninsula
Ripe tropical overtones preface tasty textural complexity derived from sur-lie aging and fermentation in an untoasted 630-gallon oak tank, the only one of its kind in Northern Michigan.

Verterra Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2013
With expressive fruit and bright acids reminiscent of the 2011 vintage, Verterra’s 2013 unoaked chardonnay presents pure apple and honeyed orchard fruit overtones that stay fresh and lithe across the palate (2012 vintage sold out).

Love Northern Michigan wine? Check out our complete directory of Northern Michigan Wineries and Vineyards.

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski