From the State of Lions Tigers and Bear Haters – Michigan Wine
I enjoy exploring new regions of the country’s great grape growth. Every state in the union makes wine. With California, Washington, New York, and Oregon securing the top four spots, several states are making a play for the coveted number five. Wine writers like Russ Kane and Jim Wilkerson often talk up the big state of Texas. Great Virginia evangelists like Dezel Quillen and Frank Morgan waive the “Virginia is for Wine Lovers” banner. But, there is a glove shaped state making a play for the #5 spot. With the fine folks at Michigan by the Bottle and Mike Fifer on board, the home of the Lions, Tigers and Bear haters is getting good press for pressing out some quality juice.
Shannon and Courtney Casey run MichiganbytheBottle.com and seem to be on a single minded mission to get Michigan wine on the palates and minds of every wine loving tweeter in the twitterverse. The fifth installment of Tweet and Taste Michigan featured the wines of Silver Leaf Vineyard and Winery. Silver Leaf is a family establishment making nearly 2000 cases of small production hand crafted wines. Located north of Traverse City on the North West portion of the state (near the pinky), the winery is part of the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association. The produce 8 wines with the price points ranging from $11 – $16. VALUE ALERT!
For this month’s tasting, it was a pleasure exploring the region and getting to know their Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Lemberger (Purple Foot).
2009 Silver Leaf Pinot Gris
- The Stuff: Labeled non-vintage and as American, this Pinot Gris is made from grapes in various vineyard sources in Michigan and is 98% Pinot Grigio and 2% Chardonnay. The wine sees “some” time in oak but undergoes no malo-lactic fermentation; 12.2%ABV – LOVE the zip tie type foil access!
- The Swirl: Pale yellow apple in the glass with hints of effervescence, seems moderately ‘thick’
- The Sniff: Nice soft aromas of spice, and lemon-lime erupt from the glass. A nicely presented nose really builds the anticipation for the first sip.
- The Sip: Very well balanced flavor with subtle presentations of peach, and citrus without being tart. A medium acidity provides a finish that makes this a good sipping wine or perfect for pairing with shell fish and spicy fair.
- The Score: While the wine wasn’t overly complex it was a solid effort and a super affordable price point. Retailing for $14, this could be a go to bottle for people who like crisp whites. 3/5
2009 Silver Leaf Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling from Leelanau area; 12.9%ABV; 1% residual sugar that on the web site is curiously listed as “added back” – not much else listed on the web site
- The Swirl: Very light straw color with hints of green apple
- The Sniff: Mostly tropical flowers on the nose, tight and restrained
- The Sip: A slight touch of sweetness on the palate that quickly gives way to soft flavors of peach and apricot. A wet stone minerality rocks the finish along with a pretty strong acidity. The finish is quick but pleasing.
- The Score: At only $14, this is another bargain that showcases the quality price ratio that is so strong in Michigan; 3/5
Silver Leaf Purple Foot
- The Stuff: 100% Lemberger from Southern Michigan vineyard sources; 10 months on French and American oak; 13.5%ABV
- The Swirl: Extremely light and translucent in the glass. Reminiscent of a Pinot Noir with ruby tones.
- The Sniff: On the nose this wine is a smoky blackberry aroma with hints of earth
- The Sip: A good “starter red” with a thin flavor profile. The taste turns tart with cranberry and puckered tannin on the finish. To me the wine feels a little disjointed and not what I’ve come to expect from a Lemberger.
- The Score: At $16, the Purple Foot is a good price but wasn’t something I would particularly purchase. 3-/5
*Wine was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review