Shady Lane Sparkling Riesling, 2014

Maker: Shady Lane Cellars, Suttons Bay, Michigan, USA20170320_112711.jpg

Grape: Riesling (100%)

Style: Medium dry sparkling white wine (secondary fermentation was using the cuve close, aka “tank” method)

Place of origin: Shady Lane estate (Blocks M, I & N), Leelanau Peninsula AVA, Michigan, USA

ABV: 10.6%

Price: $25 (Michigan by the Bottle Tasting Room, Auburn Hills)

For more information, scroll down to this wine’s entry here on Shady Lane’s website.

Appearance: Very pale straw with steady, delicate bubbles.

Nose: Whiff of yeast then classic Riesling profile. Big peach, plum, jackfruit, fresh squeezed blood orange juice.

Palate: Light bodied and medium sweet with moderate acidity. Mineral water, grapefruit, lemon peel, vanilla bean.

Finish: Clean & crisp. Minerals, acid.

Parting words: Shady Lane, one of Leelanau’s best wineries, is named after the founder’s favorite Pavement song (ok, probably not but I like to pretend that it is). Almost all their wines are made from estate grown grapes. That sets them apart from most of their peers. It also makes their wines harder to find and a little more expensive, but it’s worth it.

Sparkling Riesling is relatively rare in the US or anywhere else for that matter. The last one I had was this one but it doesn’t really count since it was the result of an accident. I enjoyed Shady Lane’s intentional version quite a bit, as did a friend I served some to. My wife didn’t like it as much. She found it to be lacking in flavor and aroma. I will say that it is a little bland right out of the refrigerator. Letting the glass or bottle warm for a couple minutes before drinking brings out all the deliciousness described above. It is balanced enough that it pairs very well with spicy Thai or Middle Eastern food.

Sparkling Riesling is rare and a wine this well made at $25 is even more rare. It’s like that easy going but never boring friend with a bubbly but never unbalanced personality you always want to have around at a party (once she comes out of the cold, anyway). Shady Lane Sparkling Riesling is recommended.

 

 

Two Lads Sparkling Pinot Grigio

Maker: Two Lads, Old Mission Peninsula, Traverse City, Michigan, USA2015-12-29-17.57.18.jpg.jpeg

Grape: 100% Pinot Grigio/Gris

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

Vintage: NV

ABV: 12.5%

Price: $30 (Michigan by the Bottle Tasting Room)

Note: Pop cap closure.

Appearance: Light gold with big fizz and persistant, quick bubbles.

Nose: Dry. Minerals, lychee, sage.

Palate: Effervescent. Mineral water, Meyer lemon, mandarin orange.

Finish: Dry and flinty. Slightly herbal and smoky.

Mixed: I tried this wine in a mimosa and a Death in the Afternoon (using herbsaint instead of absinthe). It was good in both and would probably work well in other champagne cocktails like a Kir Royale, but it’s so good on its own I’m not sure why anyone would want to use it in cocktails.

Parting words: I was blindly grabbing at bottles in a box behind some wine racks yesterday trying to find a sparkler to pull out for a review today. The first bottle I pulled out was a bottle of mid-range prosecco. Looks OK, I thought, but maybe I have something more interesting in there. I reached back again and pulled this out. “That’s it!” I actually said out loud.

I expected this to be tasty, but not quite this tasty. This wine is dry enough to remind me of brut Champagne, but retails enough sweetness and Pinot Grigio character to make it enjoyable to drink. Bone dry champagne never really turned me on, anyway. This is non-vintage but they also have produced vintages of this in years past. It pairs well with a wide variety of cusine, too.

Two Lads Sparkling Pinot Grigio is a winner. Drink it early in the evening while you can still tell how good it is and appreciate how pretty the conical bottle is. Highly recommended.

L. Mawby Blanc de Blancs

Maker: L. Mawby, Sutton’s Bay, Michigan, USAMawby B de B

Grape: Chardonnay

Place of origin: Leelenau Peninsula AVA, Michigan, USA

Style: Brut sparkling wine.

ABV: 11%

Purchased for $21.

Notes: Whole cluster pressed. Méthode traditionnelle. Cuvee 206. More information on label.

Appearance: Pale gold and very effervescent.

Nose: Dry apple cider, limestone, dried flowers.

Palate: Bubbly and light. Ripe golden apple and Bosc pear, with a hint of meyer lemon and mineral water.

Finish: Quite dry with more mineral notes and a tiny tang on the back end.

Parting words: All L. Mawby does is sparkling wine, and they do it well. The flagship L. Mawby wines are made using the méthode traditionnelle used for Champagne.

I have virtually no knowledge of Champagne but from the few tastes I’ve had of the real stuff, this wine fits the profile of brut Champagne. Most Michigan sparklers are backyard quaffing material, which is just fine, but if you’re looking for a step up, the Mawby Blanc de Blanc is a good option. It’s just fine with traditional white wine fare, but it works best as an aperitif with hors d’oeuvres or as the first round of a celebration (before the cheap stuff comes out). L. Mawby Blanc de Blancs is recommended.

 

Blushed

Maker: Black Star Farms, Traverse City/Sutton’s Bay, Michigan, USA
BSF Blush

Grape: Pinot Noir

Region: Leelenau AVA, Michigan, USA

Style: Dry sparkling rosè.

ABV: 12%

Price: $13.50 from the winery online

Appearance: Ruby red with lots of bubbles.

Nose: Pomegranate, cranberry, red raspberry.

On the palate: Effervescent and dry. Not nearly as tart as the nose suggests. More pomegranate, but fades into a grapey flavor with a hint of foxiness.

Finish: Still dry but fairly tart. The cranberries pop up again only to fade into sparkling mineral water.

Parting words: I was skeptical when I saw the word “dry” on the label of Blushed, but it dry it is. It’s color is more like a bleed than a blush, but the dark color is attractive.

Blushed would make a nice change of pace for a sober first round on New Year’s Eve or casual summertime sipping. It is very good in a champagne cocktail (sugar, bitters and sparkling wine). Adequate in a mimosa. The price is right and so is the wine. Blushed is recommended.

M. Lawrence Green

Maker: M. Lawrence/L. Mawby, Sutton’s Bay, Michigan, USA

Grapes: Cayuga, Vidal

Region:

Style: Extra Sec

Vintage: NV (Batch 1, current label shown)

ABV: 10%

Appearance: Very pale gold with bubbles that won’t quit.

Nose: Very light and dry. Golden Delicious apples, white grapefruit.

On the palate: Dry and clean. Crisp apple and grapefruit, as above. A bit of limestone and chalk.

Finish: More mineral notes and a slighl tang. Apple, underripe pear, white peach.

Parting words: Do one thing and do it well is an official motto of Leenlenau’s L. Mawby winery. They do nothing but sparkling wines. The L. Mawby label is used for their estate, methode champenoise wines and M. Lawrence is used for non-estate wines made with the cuve close method. The Mawby wines all have fairly staid names. The M. Lawrence line has attention-grabbing names like Fizz, Wet, Sex, Detroit, and of course, Green.

Nothing green about Green. It’s a crisp, clean, off-dry sparkler with a French accent. If I had not visited the website I would never have guessed that Cayuga and Vidal grapes were used in the production of Green. There is not a fox in sight.

Green works best on its own or as an aperitif. It might even work with mild fish, chicken or mildly seasoned pork. Green is recommended.

Bubbly Nouveau

Maker: Black Star Farms, Sutton’s Bay/Traverse City, Michigan, USA

Grapes: Muscat, Cayuga

Region: Old Mission AVA, Traverse City, Michigan, USA

Style: Carbonated White Wine

Vintage: 2011 (different vintage pictured)

ABV: 7%

Appearance: Very pale, practically clear, with nice, spritely persistent bubbles.

On the palate: Sweet and foxy. The Muscat and Cayuga make their presence plainly known but are restrained (barely). Table grapes, Granny Smith apples with a hint of perfume and persimmon.

Finish: Tart and tingly but mellows within 20 seconds or so.

Parting Words: Bubbly Nouveau is a fleeting annual release from BSF. As one might expect from the name, it is recommended that this one be consumed promptly. I can’t imagine it getting much tarter than this and being enjoyable. Not everybody enjoys foxy native grape wines or Muscat but I do. This is a fun, rustic American wine that doesn’t require a lot of attention and is best drunk fast and early. Recommended.

NOTE: The original version of this review stated that Riesling was also used to make the 2011 vintage of Bubbly Nouveau. That is not correct. Thanks for the correction, @bstar2009!