Forty-Five North Dry Riesling, 2011

Maker: Forty-Five North, Lake Leelanau, Michigan, USA20160405_115701-1.jpg

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

ABV: 11.25%

Purchased for $19 (Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)

Appearance: Medium gold.

Nose: Dry and flinty. Lychee, water chestnut, Bartlett pear, dried savory, epazote.

Palate: Peach, tangerine, ruby red grapefruit, mineral water, dried chicory.

Finish: Medium length. Dry, herbal with a slight bitterness.

20160402_182008-1.jpgParting words: Having had an odd experience when I visited Forty-Five North last summer, I had been put off from reviewing any more of their stuff. I’m very glad I reviewed this one, though. I found it languishing on a shelf at store at which I usually buy Scotch and decided to pick it up earlier this year, even though I was unsure if it would still hold up.

Held up it did. This wine was wonderful. It’s one of the driest Michigan Rieslings I’ve had. I ate it with a couple different meals, including a cheese tart, made with Raclette from Leelanau Chesse (it’s all they make). It did well with everything. It’s drinking very well now, obviously, but it will probably still be good a year or more from now. $18 was the original MRSP but it’s easily worth $19-$20 or more. 2011 is still showing very well for Michigan whites. Forty-Five North’s 2011 Dry Riesling is highly recommended.

Forty-Five North Pinot Gris

Maker: Forty-Five North, Lake Leelanau, Michigan, USAwpid-2015-06-23-17.07.05.jpg.jpeg

Place of origin: Leelanau & Old Mission Peninsulas (50/50)

Vintage: 2012

ABV: 12.5%

Purchased for $19

Appearance: Bright light gold.

Nose: Bright and mildly fruity. Tart apple, canned pears, crushed mulberry.

Palate: Full bodied and tart. Fresh cut apple, mango, cantaloupe, pinch of lavender.

Finish: Mildly bitter. Limestone and lychee. Fades slowly.

Parting words: Forty-Five North is named after the 45th parallel which runs through Leland and Traverse City, Michigan (and Bordeaux, Piedmont, the Willamette Valley and Upstate New York as Michigan wine folks are fond of pointing out) and the vineyards of winery owners Steve & Lori Grossnickle on Leelanau Peninsula.

While Riesling has reached sublime heights in Northern Michigan, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris/Grigio continue to be underutilized. When they are produced in a good vintage like 2012, they can be very good. This is one of those.

It’s similar in style to other domestic Pinot Gris, falling between the extremes of Veneto crispness and Alsatian buttery fruit. It is food friendly and refreshing without being boring and it even showed up well against the barbecued pork chops I served alongside it last night. $19 is just about right for a Michigan wine of this quality. 2012 Forty-Five North Pinot Gris is recommended.

Forty-Five North Riesling

Maker: Forty-Five North, Lake Leelanau, Leelenau Co, Michigan, USA

Region: Michigan, USA

Vintage: 2010

Style: Dry

ABV: 11.5%

Purchased for: $19

Appearance: Light gold with very little in the way of legs or necklacing.

Nose: Grapey and dry. Pear, peach, Golden Delicious apple, whiff of orange blossom.

On the palate: Medium bodied and semi-dry. White peach, white cherry, underripe plum.

Finish: Dry. Peach, thyme and maybe a little smoke.

Parting words: Forty-Five North Winery is located in the central Leelenau Peninsula, east of Lake Leelanau. It is named for the 45th parallel, the midpoint between the Arctic Circle and the Equator, which runs right through the vineyard belonging to the winery. The family has owned the land around the tasting room for many years but purchased the vineyard and began producing wine commercially only in the past few years. The facilities are in the Leelenau Peninsula but note that the wine is only labeled “Michigan”. This means that grapes from more than just the Leelanau AVA probably went into this wine.

For relative newbies, they have done a good job. This Riesling is crisp and food-friendly but has the complexity to raise it well above the category of a table or casual wine. It is an excellent example of a dry Michigan Riesling and is well worth the price. 2010 Forty-Five North Riesling is recommended.