WTN: A brief tasting of Leelanau

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WTN: A brief tasting of Leelanau

Postby Mark Hugger » Wed Sep 20, 2006 2:07 pm

My wife and I made a one-day trip to Leelanau (MI) this past weekend. Truly amazing how this pennisula and Mission pennisula have changed in the last five years. Vines everywhere you look.

Some of the wine was also quite good.

2003 Gill's Pier Sauvignon Blanc A light, sharp and dry wine with lots of citrus. A memory of mown lawn. Not lacking in either sophistication or style. The first taste on our little tour and very encouraging. $18.

2002 Gill's Pier Chardonnay Not as well balanced as the S.B. Clumsy vanilla that did eventually give way to some fruit. Too much oak for me, but maybe not others. $18.

2003 Gill's Pier Merlot Some nice spice and berries, but unsatisfying in the end because of the veggie overtones. But, it did not discourage me. Still a good bottle of wine, clearly made by people that know what they are doing. $24

2005 Leelanau Wine Cellars Pinot Noir An odd pinkish color. Very light and transparent, on the nose and palate. Strawberries and not unpleasant. But certainly not what someone looking for Pinot would expect. $14.

2005 Leelanau Wine Cellars Meritage Promoted as a wine that will peak in five years. I'm not convinced. Not much in the way of tannins or acids. I'd say drink it now while it's fresh and fruity and satisfying. It seems like it might fall apart with time. A blend of cab franc and merlot. $22.

2005 Shady Lane Cellars Late Harvest Vignoles Honey and tropical fruits in a balanced sweet desert wine. At $25, well worth it. An aside, I loved the artwork on the Shady Lane bottles.

2005 Arcturos Pinot Gris The Black Star Farms operation appears to have a much higher budget than the other wineries I saw. It showed in the bottle, as well. The Pinot Gris would stand up favorably in any comparison of the varietal. Nice balance, crisp and dry. Melon and citrus in a floral arrangement.

2004 Arcturos Pinot Noir Again, this wine represents the varietal well. A distinctive nose of spice and dark berriers. A great balance of tannins and fruit. A classic finish. (An aside, I also tasted the pinot noir rose. It passed my mother test: A rose for her that I don't mind finishing after she's left.) $28?

Finally, though the wines were only promising, Willow Vineyards was wonderful to visit. It sits on a steep hill on the east side of the pennisula, with a glorious view of the bay and vines. The chard was showing the best and I wouldn't turn it down if offered.
if I were all the man that he is cat...

--Bukowski
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Re: WTN: A brief tasting of Leelanau

Postby Bob Henrick » Wed Sep 20, 2006 5:03 pm

Mark Hugger wrote:2003 Gill's Pier Sauvignon Blanc A light, sharp and dry wine with lots of citrus. A memory of mown lawn. Not lacking in either sophistication or style. The first taste on our little tour and very encouraging. $18.

2002 Gill's Pier Chardonnay Not as well balanced as the S.B. Clumsy vanilla that did eventually give way to some fruit. Too much oak for me, but maybe not others. $18.

2003 Gill's Pier Merlot Some nice spice and berries, but unsatisfying in the end because of the veggie overtones. But, it did not discourage me. Still a good bottle of wine, clearly made by people that know what they are doing. $24


Mark, are these Estate grown grapes? IIRC just a couple years ago, all the Gills Pier wines were from purchased grapes. Have they now vineyards far enough along to be producing grapes of worth?
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Re: WTN: A brief tasting of Leelanau

Postby OW Holmes » Wed Sep 20, 2006 6:03 pm

Mark, did you get a chance to try the Shady Lane Semi Dry Riesling? It has been very well received in wine competitions this summer. I agree, I like their artwork.
And, as an AA wine lover, why didn't we see you at MoCOOL? Or did we?
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Re: WTN: A brief tasting of Leelanau

Postby Mark Hugger » Wed Sep 20, 2006 6:53 pm

Bob, I was told most of the smaller vineyards bought some grapes for making their wines. I would assume Gill's Pier falls in that category, but really do not know for sure. They had some established vines, as well as new plantings still staked straight up.

OW, I did not have the riesling and I didn't attend MoCool. These might be two things I should regret?
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Re: WTN: A brief tasting of Leelanau

Postby OW Holmes » Wed Sep 20, 2006 9:25 pm

Mark Hugger wrote:Bob I did not have the riesling and I didn't attend MoCool. These might be two things I should regret?


No, Mark, I wouldn't suggest you regret either, but you might consider correcting both. I haven't been able to find the Shady Lane Riesling at my normal shops, but I keep looking. And MoCOOL would seem a natural for you. Hope to see you there next year.
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