As the sun kicks Leelanau Peninsula vineyards into photosynthetic overdrive and the hum of bottling lines can be heard up and down M-22, happy vignerons are draining steel tanks and oak barrels as a second round of releases from the ripe and restorative 2016 harvest get closer to go time. Last year’s optimal growing conditions were a welcome reset from the cold, damp blight of 2014 and 2015, and winemakers like Lee Lutes at Black Star Farms are reporting rich, concentrated whites, reds and rosés with effusive fruit and floral aromatics backed by higher-than-average alcohol levels that promise cellar-worthy evolution in the months and years to come.
Look for newly bottled 2016 whites and rosés to be the main event in tasting rooms this summer along with some brawny library release reds from 2014 and 2015. Though grape chemistry in 2016 was near perfect at harvest time, yields continued to be modest from vineyards still in recovery mode, so stock up for summer sipping as inventories are projected to sell out quickly.
45 North Marsanne 2016
A Rhône native transplanted to the Lake Michigan shore, this Marsanne has juicy pear, melon and banana notes framed by a fat mid-palate.
bigLITTLE Mixtape 2016
The Laing Bros bust out a new iteration of their co-fermented off-dry field white blend full of citrus, white flowers and flashy tropicalia.
Black Star Farms Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Our homegrown pinots make for especially pretty pink wine, and Black Star Farms’ bottling is no exception. Expect loads of fresh strawberry, watermelon and bright pomegranate.
Good Harbor Dry Riesling 2016
One of Good Harbor’s handcrafted Small Batch Series, the nose of this wine begins with white lilies followed by stone fruit.
Blustone Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2016
After a vortex-driven hiatus, Blustone’s pinot blanc is back showing bright tropical fruit and lemon curd.
Chateau Fontaine Woodland White 2016
Dan Matthies’s Alsatian-inspired ace-in-the-hole is crafted from the white peach, honeydew melon and apple-accented Auxerrois grape.
Brengman Brothers Cabernet Franc 2015
Diligent vineyard work in the Brengman plots and 18 months in barrel produced 80 cases of this ripe and cellar-worthy cab franc showing blackberry, graphite and spice.
Verterra Winery Pinot Blanc ‘Swede Vineyard’ 2016
2016 is the debut vintage of the Hamelin family’s single vineyard pinot blanc with manifold tropical fruit aromas seated in a sexy and complex mid-palate.
Rove Estate Blanc 2016
Equal parts estate-grown sauvignon blanc and pinot blanc brightly unite in this lemon and clementine-driven blend from newcomer, Rove Estate.
Traverse food and drinks editor Tim Tebeau writes from Petoskey. [email protected]