Starved for sunlight in the grip of deep winter, we’re staging an escape to the golden glow of a Northern Michigan pinot blanc, a rare grape whose wines invoke fragrant orchards and drink well in any weather. Pinot blanc expresses itself as a precise distillation of the sunlight and warmth in a given vintage: warm years add weight and draw out aromas of golden apples and muskmelon, while cooler years exacerbate the grape’s high acidity, giving it lean citrus and mineral character. Pinot blanc thrives in a few select vineyards on the peninsulas, and its spectrum of flavors allows it to drink well with everything from sausage and sauerkraut to ceviche.
Winemaker Bryan Ulbrich calls his 2008 pinot blanc a reflection of precision. The fruit was perfectly exposed to the sun allowing it to develop a classic flavor profile. Ulbrich encourages us to think golden, invoking ripe gritty pears on a bright fall afternoon. leftfootcharley.com.
Peninsula Cellars delays the release of their wines by a year to encourage integration, and the 2007, their first entirely estate-grown bottling, shows apple and pear accented by honey overtones with a bright, nutty finish. Recommended with seared scallops. peninsulacellars.com.
Brys’s pinot blanc showcases golden apple aromas and a pronounced citrus character owing to the cool 2008 growing season. Strict vineyard management and controlled yields only allowed for 183 cases in 2008 and a miniscule 60 cases in 2009. Eileen Brys enjoys her pinot blanc alongside fettucine with peas and ham in a light cream sauce. brysestate.com.
Chateau Grand Traverse’s dynamic flagship blend incorporates 35 percent pinot blanc in addition to pinot gris and chardonnay. Slightly off-dry, Ship of Fools shows bright orchard fruit and floral aromas. cgtwines.com.