Michigan wineries put on a show at the Rattlesnake

Twenty three state wineries, most with owners or winemakers present, rolled out their best bottles of the 2010 and 2011 vintages at the third annual Michigan Wine Showcase on Monday at the Rattlesnake, where not only the public, but local restaurant managers, chefs, store owners and media got a taste.

The Rattlesnake — thanks to Chef Chris Franz, his army of servers, and the planning and coaching of Master Sommeliers Claudia Tyagi and Madeline Triffon, along with the Michigan wine council — set the stage for what has become the premier event of Michigan Wine Month.

“I loved the white blends, and I loved the reds,” said Lori Tepper, sommelier at D. Vine Fine Wines in Livonia. “People say, ‘Oh, we can’t make good red wines in Michigan.’ But the Cabernet Franc from Brys and Pinot Noir from 2 Lads were terrific.”

The best Pinot Noirs at the event leaned to a Burgundian style, with earthy, black cherry, black plum flavors, supple tannins and acidity for structure. When the weather gods cooperate, like they did in 2010 and 2011, they have complexity and the ability to age.

It’s clear from the wines poured that Michigan vintners have sharpened their focusĀ  on Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and newcomers Pinot Blanc and Rose of Pinot Noir, and red and white blends.

Some of the standouts:

Left Foot Charley Dry Riesling 2010, $17: With its midpalate blast of tangerine, lime and red grapefruit, this is the style that winemaker Bryan Ulbrich said he is aiming to replicate in future vintages.

Bel Lago Chardonnay 2010, $22: This is as close to a Sonoma County Chardonnay as you can get from this part of the country — with ripe fruit, barrel fermentation, stirring on the lees, almost 14 percent alcohol. Charley Edson humbly thought it was the best Chardonnay he had ever made.

Verterra Pinot Blanc 2011, $20: The new vineyard project of Paul Hamelin and Skip Telegard in Leland and their Pinot Blanc were the buzz among the trade. The bold, tropical citrus-packed wine had all the telltale signs of the award-winning winemaking of Shawn Walters, who fermented and styled this wine at French Road Cellars, a nearby custom crush facility.

M. Lawrence Green, L. Mawby Vineyards, Extra-Sec, $16: This new bubbly from Larry Mawby is summer in a glass. It’s a blend of Cayuga and Vidal, made in a steely, dry, palate-cleansing style.

Circa Estate Lemberger 2009, $30: I love Lemberger — the grape best known in German, not the cheese! — and so does Circa winemaker Margaret Bell. She’s one of the rare producers, and this one delivers: dense plum fruit, cherries, blackberries and spicy oak.

2010 Pinot Noirs: A range of Michigan wineries had beautieas to show off, all with distinctive earthy, dry flavors, lots of cherry and vanilla, and spicy oak styling: 2 Lads, Chateau Chantal, Black Star, Bel Lago, Brys and Wyncroft.

Come back next week for more discoveries at the Michigan Wine Showcase.