Michigan Wines | Riesling | Sauvignon Blanc | Sparkling | Wine Culture

J Vineyards, Mondavi Fume Blanc and breathtaking Old Mission Peninsula

Melissa Stackhouse. (Image courtesy of J Vineyards)

Melissa Stackhouse. (Image courtesy of J Vineyards)

Here’s some wine for thought to lift up your spirits on a gray, rainy Monday in Michigan.

>> DeeVine bubbles: J Vineyards & Winery Vintage Brut Russian River Valley 2005, $48: Proprietor Judy Jordan and winemaker Melissa Stackhouse (she grew up in Michigan) put a great big bow on the Valentine season with their Vintage Brut sparkling wine. It’s clean, bracing, dry, sophisticated. Lift the glass to the nose and inhale the yeasty brioche notes, the ripe citrus, ripe pear and butterscotch off the barrels. In the mouth, it’s rich, feminine, and the long finish paints the back palate with yeast and minerality and delicate citrus zest. It’s an example of fine winemaking: After the secondary fermentation in the bottle, it was aged on the spent yeast for nearly five years. In October 2011, it was carefully riddled to remove the yeast sediment and a dosage of barrel-aged reserve wine was added. It’s a traditional blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Melissa Stackhouse passes on a food pairing that is not in my kitchen, but I can imagine it in my mind: potato-leek puree drizzled over curly endive with a dash of truffled caviar. That’s Melissa above and here’s a video.

>> History in a glass: Repeating today’s wonderful Wine of the Day at the right side of this page: Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc Reserve Napa Valley To Kalon Vineyard 2010, $40: Such a feminine but also powerful wine — the smoke off the barrels ripples through the rich, sweet aromas of flowers, fresh herbs and citrus. In the mouth, it has weight; it’s creamy and rich, and the alcohol is assertive. It finishes with herbal grace. It’s a wine that showcases the To Kalon Vineyard behind the winery. A portion of the grapes are from the I-block, the oldest plantings of Sauvignon Blanc in the U.S. dating to 1945. The term “Fume Blanc” is credited to Robert Mondavi who decided to give his Sauvignon Blanc that name in 1968, and it stuck. It was a way a California grower could avoid the then-unfashionable name Sauvignon Blanc and give it French flair. “Fume,” or smoke, referred to the aromas and tastes off the barrels, which are placed over hot fires to bend the staves and are toasted in the process.

>> Romancing the Riesling: Take a look at the views of Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula and its wineries as you study the details of the wine event coming up this weekend on the Traverse City peninsula. Breathtaking — along with the best Rieslings in the United States. Here’s where to look.