Old Mission Peninsula, a straight shot up M-37 out of Traverse City, offers one of the easiest-to-drive and scenic wine trails in the state, and you can experience it yourself on Saturday, Feb. 18, from 11 to 5 p.m., when the wineries pour the state’s signature grape for “Romancing the Riesling.”
Details: Tickets are $15 and available at each winery on the day of the event or by calling (231) 223-7355 or online. Each winery will pour a Riesling wine accompanied by a food pairing.
Special seminar: Sean O’Keefe, specialty winemaker at Chateau Grand Traverse and a spokesman for Michigan Rieslings at national and international tastings, will host a Riesling seminar from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 18, for a comparison tasting of Rieslings from around the world. Tickets are $25, or purchase a combined Romancing the Riesling and seminar ticket for $35. The tasting will be at the Inn at Chateau Grand Traverse. Seating is limited. Call (231) 223-7355.
Recently reviewed Michigan Rieslings:
Peninsula Cellars, 2010 Dry Riesling Old Mission Peninsula, $18
Peninsula Cellars suffered a big loss when Bryan Ulbrich left as winemaker, but this Riesling surely puts it back on everybody’s radar screen — it’s stone-dry with fabulous clean, voluptuous dry fruit, good acidity and a finish that goes on forever. It’s all about green apple, pear, grapefruit, lime and white floral notes. They echo on the nose and palate, and the wine finishes with a slam of tartness and minerality. The alcohol is the usual, 12.5 percent, but the flavors and nuances are huge. It has depth and complexity. This is Peninsula Cellars back in Ulbrich’s days. It’s a phenomenal dry white wine. You can put this wine on a world stage.
Chateau Chantal, 2010 Semi-Dry Riesling Old Mission Peninsula, $13
This is classic Old Mission fruit: tart and crisp, minerally, flowery on the nose, and stony minerality that joins with the acidity to encase the whole package. The lingering finish is dry like lime. The sweetness is subtle. It may be labeled “semi-dry” but its overall personality is dry. Perfect for seafood, salad entrees, and not only chicken and poultry, but veal and pork. This is still a young, tightly wound wine. Look for it on sale at Meijer.
Black Star Farms, 2010 Arcturos Riesling Old Mission Peninsula, $16
This yummy Riesling is not from vineyards and home winery in Suttons Bay but at Black Star’s holdings and new white-wine winery on nearby Old Mission Peninsula. It’s made on the sweet side of dry and is ever so compatible with foods ranging from Michigan whitefish to shellfish from wherever it hails. It’s all about lime, tangerine, grapefruit, apple and white flowers. Minerality streams through the palate and there’s a honeyed sweetness at the core, which is balanced by the acidity and minerality. It’s a pretty wine — and closed with a screw cap. Which I do believe is a first for Black Star.
Bowers Harbor Vineyard, 2010 Block II Riesling Old Mission Peninsula, $25
Old Mission Rieslings are their own thing — they exude lime, minerality and white floral notes. This one, off plantings from 1991, is an award winner from Bowers Harbor. It’s a stout wine, worthy of seafood, chicken and pork. The nose is white flowers, orange peel, lime and nectarine. On the palate, it’s whistle-clean and dry, and crisp. The acidity is firm. Minerality streams throughout. It has good body. Bottom line: Old Mission Rieslings will not be mistaken for wines of the Rhine or Mosel, but they have their own beautiful varietal character that is unique to this narrow finger of land and rivals any location in the U.S.