Engle’s Ransom Michigan Hard Cider

Maker: Left Foot Charley, Traverse City, Michigan, USA

Place of origin: Engle Ridge Farm, Grand Traverse County, Michigan, USA

Apples: Various European heritage varieties.

ABV: 7.8%

Price: $8/500 ml (LFC website)

Appearance: Gold with steady bubbles.

Nose: Strawberry, caramel, cut apple.

Palate: Tingly, medium light bodied, and dry. Granny smith.

Finish: Clean, apple butter.

Parting words: Left Foot Charley is best known for making some of the best single vineyard wines in Northern Michigan, but they also make some of the best single orchard ciders in Northern Michigan!

This is a great example. Engle’s Ransom isn’t a brash, funky Iberian or Norman cider. It’s a crisp, clean expression of the apples that went into it and the stony vineyard they came from. There’s a little sweetness and bitterness that keep it from turning into Pellegrino, but it’s still dry and refreshing on a hot summer afternoon.

At $8 for half a liter, this is an easy buy. Engle’s Ransom is recommended.

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.