Maker: Hawthorne, Traverse City, Michigan, USA
Place of origin: Old Mission Penninsula AVA, Traverse City, Michigan, USA (2013 vintage was made from a mix of estate grapes and grapes from the Rue de Vin vineyard)
Purchased for $15 (winery)
Appearance: Pale straw
Nose: Mild. Papaya, underripe peach, honeydew melon, butter.
Palate: Rich and buttery. Grilled peaches, mandarin oranges, heirloom apples,
Finish: Bitter, smoky finish. Burnt butter, but in a good way.
Parting words: I don’t think I’ve ever had a Michigan Pinot Gris/Grigio this buttery, certainly not one from Northern Michigan. As you know, dear readers, the butter comes from malolactic fermentation, a secondary fermentation that can happen in wines. It also has the effect of softening out the tartness of a wine. It is commonplace in red wines, but less common in white where it imparts that buttery flavor and aroma most of us associate with California Chardonnay. It is allowed to occur in many warm climate Pinot Grigios too. Traverse City is almost nobody’s idea of a warm climate location but 2012 was a hot year by Michigan standards. Although it can be controlled, malolactic fermentation is more likely to occur naturally in warm conditions so maybe the folks at Hawthorne just decided to allow nature to take its course.
However it happened, the result was good. As in many Chards, the bitter oak and butter complement each other and make it even more food friendly. I’m not sure I would want a steady diet of this style of Grigio, but it’s good for a change of pace. 2012 Hawthorne Pinot Grigio is recommended.