News flash : there’s decent wine in Michigan

As I drove through Central and Northwest Michigan, during our recent familiy vacation, I was impressed to see how many vineyards kept popping up as we drove along the roads of a region known (and rightly so) for its bounty of cherries, both black and red (my favorite). We saw dozens of signs, glimpsed at vineyards (facing all sorts of directions), passed some tiny, some ambitious tasting rooms : it was wine country all right.

We had a fair bit of driving to do, so convincing my family to stop in a tasting room was simply out of the question. But as a self-respecting wine geek, I just had to taste something, didn’t I ?

As I went shopping or food, finding substantial wine selections in the supermarkets, I admit I hesitated before buying some wine. Many bottles offered very little indication of what was in there (estpecially the « red table wine » and such), and others were… Well, they bore such ugly labels that I just couldn’t bring myself to buy them. (Really. They were that bad.)

Two Michigan whites, complete with supermarket price tags.

Two Michigan whites, complete with supermarket price tags.

Two wines passed the label test and showed descriptions that made them seem trustworthy enough. And besides, they weren’t that expensive. A little over 10$ for the 2007 Reserve Tall Ship Chardonnay by Leelanau Cellars, and just under 14$ for the Château Grand Traverse 2007 Old Mission Peninsula Dry Riesling.

Competitive prices. Competitive wines?

The Leelanau chardonnay had a fair bit of oak and a touch of residual sugar, along with decent citrus flavors. Pleasant enough, even if it felt a little “cookie cutter”. But hey. 10 bucks, right?

The Grand Traverse Riesling, on the other hand, showed a good set of fairly intense varietal aromas (citrus, mineral, floral) that showed up in the flavors as well, with a relatively light body and refreshing acidity. Oh, and it was, indeed, dry, as advertised.

Of course, this is by no means an actual assessment of what Michigan vineyards have to offer. Just a tiny sample. But it at least shows that there is decent wine to be had in Michigan. And competitively priced, too. Which is a good place to start.

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