Left Foot Charley Gewürztraminer, 2016

Maker: Left Foot Charley, Traverse City, Michigan, USA20190415_162818.jpg

Grape: Gewürztraminer (at least 85%)

Place of origin: Grand Traverse County, Michigan, USA

Vintage: 2016

ABV: 13%

Purchased for $20 (Holiday Market)

Appearance: Quite pale gold.

Nose: Big lychee, woodruff, roasted ginger.

Palate: Peach pit, bitter orange, orange thyme.

Finish: More lychee, orange pith.

Parting words: Gewürztraminer is one of my favorite grapes. Its wine is spicy and tastes like no other grape (except Traminette). Next to Riesling, it’s my favorite white wine grape. Like Riesling it’s made in a range of sweetness levels, although it doesn’t reach the sublime heights of high-quality German Spälese or Auslese. LFC Dragon-label Gewürz is firmly on the dry end of the spectrum. The LFC website recommends cellaring this wine until 2022-2024 (!). I prefer Gewürz with a little bit of fruit to balance the spice so I opened mine in 2019, but if I find another bottle I may let it sit for a couple more years.

I’ve had a lot of Michigan Gewürz over the years and this is the best one that I can remember having. It’s good on its own but it is spectacular with spicy food. The first bottle I purchased was taken to a Chinese New Year celebration and was gone in a flash. It paired perfectly with the spicy hot pot at the center of the meal. $20 is more than fair for a high quality wine like this. Left Foot Charley Gewürztraminer (dragon label) is highly recommended.

Jackson-Triggs Reserve Riesling-Gewürztraminer

Maker: Jackson-Triggs, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada.20180328_195011.jpg

Grapes: Riesling, Gewürztraminer (% unknown).

Place of origin: Niagara Peninsula VQA, Ontario, Canada.

Vintage: 2014

ABV: 12.5%

Purchased for around $10 US (Replacement product currently selling for $14.25 Canadian from the winery)

Appearance: Pale yellow.

Nose: White peach, limestone dust, citrus blossum.

Palate: Dry. Mango, peach, lemon meringue, pink peppercorn.

Finish: Also dry. Meyer lemon, pinch of clove as it fades.

Parting words: There’s not much about the history of Jackson-Triggs kicking around on the internet, but what there is doesn’t seem to be too exciting anyway. The winery was established in 1993 by Messrs. Jackson and Triggs. Jackson-Triggs’ parent company Vincor (also founded by Jackson and Triggs) was purchased by Big International Booze Company Constellation Brands (Mondavi, Corona, Black Velvet, High West) for $1.52 billion Canadian in 2006. With Jackson-Triggs’sibling wineries Sawmill Creek and Inniskillin, Consetellation brands is the largest producer of Canadian wine.

Jackson-Triggs Reserve Riesling-Gewürztraminer is a crisp, but relatively flavorful white blend. good for summer porch sipping or accompanying roast chicken. This particular wine is no longer sold under this label, but has been rebranded as Crisp and Lively White and is currently selling for $14.25.  Still a fair price. 2014 Jackson-Triggs Reserve Riesling-Gewürztraminer is recommended.

For my review of the 2011 vintage of J-T’s Vidal Ice Wine, click here.


Peninsula Cellars Manigold Vineyard Gewürztraminer, 2013

Maker: Peninsula Cellars, Traverse City, Michigan, USA20170627_155041

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

Syle: Dry (Semi-dry)

ABV: 12%

Price: $20 (winery)

Appearance: Medium gold with tiny still bubbles.

Nose: Lychee, limestone, pineapple sage, apple juice.

Palate: Meduim bodied and juicey. Peach, mango, pink peppercorn, raw ginger, thyme, mineral water.

Finish: Fruity but with a lot of spice on the back end.

Parting words: Manigold is one of my favorite vineyards on Old Mission. It’s known best for Gewürztraminer and also has Chardonnay vines. The vineyard is only two acres in size but its wines are big. Gewürz’s spicy character is in full effect here but there is also loads of tropical fruit making for a complex, aromatic, flavorful wine. I could gush over this for a few more paragraphs, but I’ll spare you. Hard to find a better Gewürz at this price from Michigan or anywhere. Peninsula Cellars 2013 Manigold Vineyard Gewürztraminer is highly recommended.



Free Run Cellars Grappa

Maker: Round Barn, Baroda, Michigan, USA20170504_170405

Grapes: Gewürztraminer, Muscat.

Style: Pomace brandy.

ABV: 40%

Note: I received a 25% media discount on purchases and a free lunch when I purchased this brandy.

Appearance: Clear.

Nose: Alcohol, lavender, antique rose, boxwood, woodruff, mango, pink peppercorns.

Palate: Sweet. Candied orange peel, alcohol.

Finish: Pungent and perfumed. Clears out sinuses and lingers.

Parting words: Free Run is a line of estate spirits and wines from Round Barn in southwestern Michigan. My wife and I (and our baby!) visited there last summer. An account of that, with details on Free Run is here. I reviewed Black Star Farms’ white grappa in 2013 and I loved it. This one is more rose pedals and musk than BSF’s fruity grappa. Some fruit, other than the faint mango note, would have been welcome for balance but this is good all the same. I forgot to write the price down but Free Run brandies are produced in limited runs and are priced accordingly (for a 375 ml bottle). Free Run Cellars Grappa Pomace Brandy is recommended.

Arcturos Gewurztraminer

Maker: Black Star Farms, Traverse City, Michigan, USA

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

Vintage: 2012

ABV: 13%

Price: $22.50 (website)

Appearance: Pale gold.

Nose: Lychee, melon, mango.

Palate: Medium bodied. Cantaloupe, white pepper, white peach, touch of pineapple mint.

Finish: Slightly bitter tempered with tropical fruit.

Parting words: For me, the sweet spot for American Gewurz is 2-3 years, right where this one is. To me, this bottle drinks like a crisper, lighter version of an Alsatian Gewurz. That’s not better or worse, it’s just a matter of style. What they share is a commitment to bringing the spicy aspects of the grape to the fore. This wine is not afraid to embrace its Gewurz-ness. I like that approach and I love this wine. This is another big winner from Black Star Farms and another testament to the character and overall excellence of the 2012 vintage. Pairs well with the usual suspects. Arcturos 2012 Gewurztraminer is highly recommended.

Left Foot Charley Gewürztraminer

Maker: Left Foot Charley, Traverse City, Michigan, USALFC Gewurz

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

Vintage: 2011

ABV: 13%

Price: $20

Appearance: Light gold with not much in the way of legs, but that may be down to the glass.

Nose: White peach, Bosc pear, a pinch of curry powder and white pepper, woodruff and fresh thyme.

Palate: Medium bodied and medium dry. Spice moving to white grapefruit and unripe mulberry.

Finish: Fairly dry with some bitterness on the tail end. Lingers for a good long while.

Parting words: The Manigold vineyard is known for producing excellent Gewürz (Peninsula Cellars has also made Gewürz from this vineyard) and this is a very good example from a very good vintage.

The back label has a puzzling apology for “obnoxiously loud” LFC Gewürz of the past and hails their return to Manigold vineyards, albeit a different slope. The whole thing is curious but it is nice to have such detail right on the back of the bottle. Also included is the name of the growers, a description of the plot the grapes came from, harvest date and sugar levels at harvest and residual sugar.

This wine certainly isn’t obnoxious. The nose is rich with fruit, spice and herbs and enough sweetness and acidity to keep it all in balance. Like most Gewürz it goes very well with food, especially roast chicken and even Asian cuisine. The price is good for a single vineyard wine from OMP. 2011 Left Foot Charley Gewürztraminer earns a recommendation.

Shady Lane Cellars Gewürztraminer

Maker: Shady Lane, Sutton’s Bay, Michigan, USA

Place of origin: Leelanau Peninsula AVA, Michigan, USA

Vintage: 2009

ABV: 11.9%

Notes: Estate grown. Wine was tasted two days after opening.

Nose: Crisp semi-tart apples, ripe apricot.

On the palate: Medium-bodied and dry. Oak, breadfruit, curry powder, peach, melon.

Finish: Fairly dry without much fruit. Lasts a good length of time.

Parting words: Shady Lane Gewürz is very well done. It has the spice and dryness one expects from a Gewürztraminer, with the crisp fruit typical of Michigan whites. Even at three years old, and being open for two days (with a stopper in the fridge of course) it wasn’t flabby or tired. Went very well with herb-roasted chicken according to the wife.  This was my first Shady Lane wine and I am sure it won’t be my last. Shady Lane Cellars Gewürztraminer 2009 is recommended.

Umbrella Gewurztraminer-Riesling

Umbrella Gewurztraminer-Riesling

Maker: Pelee Island, Kingsville, Ontario, Canada

Gapes: Gewurztraminer (50%), Riesling (50%)

Region: Ontario VQA, Canada

Vintage: 2010

ABV: 12.5%

Appearance: Light gold. Thick, sticky robe.

Nose: Ripe peaches, tangerine, coriander, pineapple

On the palate: Medium-bodied & fairly dry. Lemon thyme, Meyer lemon, white pepper.

Finish: slightly citric & vegetal. fades fairly quickly.

Parting words: Umbrella Gewurztraminer-Riesling is a relative newcomer to the Pelee Island stable, but it’s a very good one. Both these grapes do very well in NE wine belt stretching from Michigan’s west coast through southern Ontario into upstate New York. The mix of grapes may bring Alsace to mind, but this wine is all North American on the palate and in the nose. Crisp peach and citrus notes make this a very refreshing drink when chilled, but one with enough interest to appeal to serious wine lovers, at least ones that aren’t put off by the very concept of Canadian wine. If they are, that’s more for you! Umbrella Gewurztraminer-Riesling is recommended.

Domaine Bott Frères Gewürztraminer Reserve Personnelle

Maker: Domaine Bott Frères, Ribeauville, Alsace, France

Grape: Gewürztraminer

Region: Alsace AOC, France

Vintage: 2008

ABV: 12.5%

Appearance: Old gold,

Nose: Woodruff, thyme, paper white narcissus, tangerine.

One the palate: Thick and lightly sweet. Bartlett pears, tarragon, lavender, woodruff.

Finish: Thick, sweet, herbal and floral. A voluptuous sweetness tempered by a light bitterness that clings to the roof of the mouth and the cheeks for the whole afternoon.

Parting words: I rarely buy bottles of wine based on what’s written on the back label. The presence of this stream-of-consciousness poem on the back is what drew me to  this bottle. It reads as follows:

“Robe slightly lemon yellow with an unctuous leg. In this aromatic and scented wine, one may notice aromas of the litchi [sic] fruit and hints of oriental scents. Served with dishes seasoned with spices, with chinese [sic], indonesian [sic], or indian [sic] cooking but also with cheese such as munster [sic], blue of Auvergne or Maroilles.”

Note that only the names of French places are capitalized. Do with that what you will.

At any rate, this is a thick, luscious, one might even say unctuous, wine that does pair well with spicy food or just on its own. Bott Frères Gewürz is recommended.