Bowers Harbor Medium Sweet Riesling, 2013

Maker: Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Traverse City, Michigan, USA20180125_120014.jpg

Grape: Riesling (at least 85%)

Place of origin: Old Mission Peninsula AVA, Traverse City, Michigan, USA

Style: Semi-sweet Riesling

ABV: 12%

Price: $16 (2016 vintage, winery)

Note: Received a media discount and reduced price tour at time of purchase.

Appearance: Pale gold.

Nose: Very ripe peach, gravel road, sage, grapefruit.

Palate: Full-bodied. Orange push pop, pineapple juice.

Finish: Long and tart.

Parting words: Practically everybody in Michigan grows Riesling. For some wineries in Michigan, Riesling is a part of their identity. Bowers Harbor is one of those. I reviewed BHV’s 2013 Block II dry Riesling a few weeks ago and the 2010 Block II a while back.

This wine has almost all the same aromas as those wines, but with the sweetness dialed up. It reminds me of a relatively dry German Kabinett, but with the signature characteristics of OMP Riesling.

Pairs well with spicey food and the price is very good for a wine of this quality. There should still be a few 2013s lurking on shelves around Michigan, but if you can’t find any, pick up a bottle or twelve of the 2016 Medium Dry Riesling. Bowers Harbor Medium Sweet Riesling is recommended.

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Bowers Harbor Block II Riesling, 2013

Maker: Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Traverse City, Michigan, USA20171116_190716.jpg

Grape: Riesling (German clones)

Place of origin: Block II, Bower’s Harbor estate, Old Mission AVA, Traverse City, Michigan, USA.

Style: Dry

ABV: 12%

Price: $32 (winery)

Note: received complementary media tour in conjunction with 2015 City of Riesling festival (see here).

Appearance: Pale gold.

Nose: Lychee, lemon thyme, dry gravel.

Palate: Medium-bodied and dry. Mineral water, Meyer lemon, fennel, winter savory, clementine.

Finish: Dry and tart. A little pineapple.

Parting words: Block II is a very sandy section of the Bowers Harbor estate, known for its old (by northern Michigan standards) stand of Riesling vines, planted in 1991. Block II is one of three single vineyard Rieslings BHV currently produces. The others are Smokey Hallow (also dry) and Langley Vineyard late harvest.

This is the second review of Block II Riesling I’ve written. I did a review of the 2010 vintage in 2015. It was running out of gas at that point but still good. The 2013 seems to be at its peak or close to it right now. While the 2010 tasted a little tired, this one is vibrant and still full of fruit, with lots of mouth-puckering acid, especially at room temperature. That combo makes for a classically food friendly wine, one that would make for a great addition to the Thanksgiving table.

With some work, you can probably still find a few 2013s kicking around but your better bet is to stock up on 2016s which are sure to be fantastic. The 2016 vintage of Block II Riesling is selling for $26 on the BHV website which is more than fair for a wine of this quality. If you love dry Riesling, stock up now! 2013 Bowers Harbor Block II Riesling is highly recommended.

 

2896 Langley, 2010

Maker: Bowers Harbor, Traverse City, Michigan, USA20170509_183841

Grapes: 60% Cabernet Franc, 39% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon

Place of Origin: Langley Vineyard, Bower’s Harbor estate, Old Mission Peninsula AVA, Traverse City, Michigan, USA.

Style: Meritage

ABV: 13.5%

Price: $38 (original price on shelf. Purchased on sale with a discount from the owner)

Appearance: Inky dark purple.

Nose: Blueberry, cherry juice, oak.

Palate: Medium sweet. Cherry juice, blackberry, pepper, chewy leather on the back end.

Finish: Cherry and lightly fruity. Stays in the cheeks for a good bit of time.

Parting words: 2896 is Bowers Harbor’s big, flagship red. The 2013 vintage is currently selling on the BH website for $55 and the 2012 vintage (considered the best recent vintage for Michigan reds) for $100. I haven’t had either of those, so I don’t know if they’re worth the money, but they are both at the top end of red wine prices in this state.

As for this wine, it’s very good and worth the price that was on the shelf on which it sat. It is well balanced, but still has the laid back, fruity character of a cool season Bordeaux-style red. Enough oak and alcohol to keep it from becoming a fruit bomb but not aggressive or overly tannic. It goes well with beef and smoked or grilled meats. My only complaint is that the gold wax is very hard to get off and it looks corny. The bottle would be better off without it. At any rate, at around $40 or so, 2896 Langley 2010 is recommended.

 

Bower’s Harbor Vineyards Block II Riesling, 2010

Maker: Bower’s Harbor Vineyards, Traverse City, Michigan, USAwpid-20150811_152025.jpg

Place of origin: Block II, Bower’s Harbor Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula AVA, Traverse City Michigan, USA

Vintage: 2010

ABV: 12%

Purchased for $22 (Holiday Market)

Appearance: Medium gold.

Nose: Gravel, jarred applesauce, lychee nut, bottled lemon juice.

Palate: Dry and medium bodied. Meyer lemon and mineral water.

Finish: Short, clean and dry. A little bitterness and minerality with a spritz of acid.

Parting words: I had the privilege of wandering around the famous Block II a couple weeks ago with three of my best friends. It’s a noble, old stand of Riesling with soil is so sandy that I felt like setting up a volleyball net. As our guide told us, the sand is very important. It retains very little water, so the vines are forced to send their roots deep. This stresses the plant, and leads the plant to focus more on reproduction (fruit) than producing leaves and stems. Many also believe that greater root depth leads to more complex wine, since the roots are drawing minerals from a greater volume of soil.

Whatever the role of terroir, this is a very tasty dry Riesling that is still drinking well given its age. There’s not a lot of fruit or flowers left here, but what there is keeps the acidity and minerality from overrunning the glass. The few reviews I was able to find of this wine were from 2012 and there seems to have been a lot more going on back then.

Even with the lack of complexity, this is still a good dry Riesling at this price. 2010 Bower’s Harbor Vineyards Block II Riesling recommended. If you have one in your cellar, drink now, with food or without!

Bowers Harbor Red

Maker: Bowers Harbor, Traverse City, Michiganwpid-2015-06-14-16.01.55.jpg.jpeg

Grapes: Cabernet Franc, Merlot, various red French hybrids.

Place of origin: Michigan, USA

ABV: 12%

Purchased for $13

Appearance: Pale ruby.

Nose: Mixed berry jam, white pepper, touch of oak.

Palate: Medium bodied and medium dry. Strawberries, sweet cherries, blackberries, oak.

Finish: Drying with black cherry and blueberry jam. Fading into chewy tannins.

Parting words: I picked up this wine a few days ago while looking for an easy-drinking, casual table wine for a cookout I have annually. I bought the wrong thing, but in a good way.

The words “table wine” on the label threw me off. This is a table wine in the sense of a wine that goes well with fine food, not in the sense of a cheap wine to drink on a weeknight or serve at a party with people who don’t care about wine.

Bower’s Harbor Red is actually their (successful) stab at a Bordeaux/Meritage style blend. It has everything one expects in a blend like this, even though it is a little fruit heavy at this stage. That get me to the only negative thing in the review. Not enough time in the bottle. If I had done a little research in the store, I might have let this one sit in the cellar for a few years before cracking it.

Even at this age, Bower’s Harbor Red 2013 is recommended.

Bowers Harbor Red Cépages

Maker: Bowers Harbor, Lake Leelanau, Michigan, USAwpid-20141112_171618.jpg

Grapes: Unknown (likely some hybrids in the mix)

Place of origin: Michigan, USA

Vintage: 2010

ABV: 12.5%

Purchased for $13

Appearance: Brick red with long thick legs, pretty close together.

Nose: Semi-sweet and jammy. Black cherry jam, cedar, a touch of foxiness.

Palate: More tart than the nose would suggest. Blueberry jam, blackberries, oak.

Finish: Chewy and sweet. Wild blackberries, leather, a bit of tartness.

Parting words: This wine was a bit of a surprise to me, but it shouldn’t have been. It was sweeter than I expected but still has enough underlying structure to keep it from falling into pop wine territory. It seemed more like a table wine to me than the French-style red blend I was expecting. I should have looked more closely at the label, because it says right under the boat “Red Table Wine”.

The price is a little more than I like to pay for table wines, but I liked it over all. It did OK with our supper of homemade macaroni and cheese. My wife said that she prefers that style of wine in the summertime, and I can’t disagree with her there. Red Cépages works best as a casual warm weather sipper. As such, it is recommended.

Bowers Harbor Riesling- Medium Dry

Maker: Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Lake Leelenau, Michigan, USABHV Med Dry Riesling

Place of origin: Old Mission Peninsula AVA, Traverse City, Michigan, USA

Vintage: 2011

ABV: 11%

Appearance: Pale straw.

Nose: Lychee, white peach, pear, whiff of dried flowers.

On the palate: Medium bodied and slightly tart. Queen Ann cherries, white mulberries, rose water.

Finish: Fairly dry with a hint of tartness. Pear, plum and Golden Delicious apple.

Parting words: Is orchardy a word? Because if it is, it applies to this wine. I don’t usually buy into claims that terroir makes much of a difference beyond soil composition and climate, but this BHV’s Medium Dry Riesling is very much in the spirit of Northern Michigan. Cherries and other stone fruit are abundant with a bit of apple and pear thrown in there as well. Starts to get overly tart after being opened for a day or more, but this one is so tasty it should not be a problem to finish a bottle within 24 hours. The dryness makes it quite food friendly and it would go very well with mild flavored fish (the label recommends Walleye) and chicken. Bowers Harbor Medium Dry Riesling is highly recommended.