Splendorous Spring Wine Releases Uncorked

Michigan winemakers tend to be cautiously optimistic when vintages look promising during harvest. Freshly plucked grapes are carefully crushed, processed, and maneuvered into wood barrels and steel tanks for the long winter ahead.

Rumblings of high-quality 2010 wines reached a crescendo well before spring this year. So, with much anticipation, we looked forward to tasting the new vintage, boldly touted as “exceptional” from a number of winemakers throughout Michigan’s wine grape growing regions.

We recently experienced the 2010 vintage, as well as a few newly released mature wines. Of those we tasted, we agree; this year’s spring releases are splendorous. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Chateau Chantal (Old Mission Peninsula): 2010 Cabernet Franc, 2010 Pinot Noir
  • Fenn Valley Vineyards (Fennville): 2010 Edelzwicker, 2010 True Chardonnay (unoaked)
  • Bel Lago Vineyard and Winery (Cedar): 2007 Tempesta (Cabernet Franc blend)
  • Chateau de Leelanau (Suttons Bay): Unoaked Chardonnay, Dry Riesling & Hawkins Red
  • Silver Leaf Winery (Suttons Bay): Dry Riesling
  • Willow Vineyard (Suttons Bay): Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris
  • Good Harbor Vineyards (Lake Leelanau): Collaboration, Sleeping Bare Blanc de Blanc

Good Harbor also released Tribute, a 2008 Chardonnay crafted from the last batch of wine made by the winery’s founder, Bruce Simpson, who died in 2009. “The label is designed by a local artist and has a view from the porch of my parents’ house where my dad loved to sit,” says Bruce’s son, Sam.

Along with the wines we mention here, Michigan’s 80-plus wineries are releasing a bounty of new wines.

In southwest Michigan, Vintner Katie Maurer of Domaine Berrien Cellars says to “think picnic wine” regarding their Pink Satin. An off-dry rosé, Pink Satin is crafted with the St. Vincent hybrid grape. She adds that the 2009 Viognier is a “must taste a fruit salad in your wine glass” and is also proud of their 2008 Syrah.

In Jackson, along southeast Michigan’s Pioneer Wine Trail, Winemaker Kip Barber of Lone Oak Vineyard Estate has five 2010 releases: Chardonnay (unoaked), Dry Riesling, Late Harvest Riesling, Pinot Noir, and White Merlot. “I’m excited about all of them,” says Barber. “As everyone knows, 2010 was a great year.”

Seek out new releases at your local wine market or in the tasting rooms while they last, as some of the 2010 wines are available only in limited quantities.

Lorri Hathaway and Sharon Kegerreis are authors of the award-winning From the Vine: Exploring Michigan Wineries and The History of Michigan Wines. Learn more and get autographed books at deliciousmichigan.com.