Northern Michigan Wine: Raise a glass to sparkling wines in honor of the love month. Here's our top picks from Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsula wineries, plus, where to find the biggest bubble selection Up North.
Unquestionably the sexiest form of oeno-art, sparkling wines exist in a fourth dimension of flavor and texture that facilitates infinite food pairings and invites indulgence at all hours of the day and night. The bubbles in these wines are born from a second fermentation wherein yeast and sugar are added to still wine in tanks (the cuvé close, a k a charmat, method) or in bottles (the méthode champenoise, a k a traditional method), and the resultant CO2 stays trapped in the wine. Bubblies can be crafted from virtually any high-acid grape and run the entire spectrum from sweet, fruity and lightly effervescent to bone dry and intellectual. Grab your lover and a pair of flutes (no need to reserve this activity for Valentine’s Day) and join us as we sip through some of the North’s best sparkling wines.
Bel Lago Leelanau Brillante NV
A blend of white American hybrid varietals—Cayuga, vignoles and Seyval among others—Leelanau Brillante is tank fermented to draw out tropical fruit and ripe peach characteristics that pleasantly effervesce through its bright, off-dry finish.
Black Star Farms Bubbly Nouveau 2011
Lightly effervescent, sweet and low in alcohol, Bubbly Nouveau is reminiscent of Moscato d’Asti in its flashy aromas of apricot and melon. Pour this fireside with soft cheese and fruit, or pop it at the Saturday breakfast table to complement sweet crepes or blintzes.
Bower’s Harbor Cuvée Evan Brut 2005
50% Chardonnay, and 50% Pinot Noir aged for 62 months, this méthode champenoise prestige bottling from Bower’s Harbor shows mature notes of toasted almond and brioche with fine bubble structure and a generous but bone dry finish. Only 80 cases made!
L. Mawby Blancs de Noirs Brut NV
Crafted exclusively from Pinot Noir, Mawby’s Blancs de Noirs is whole-cluster pressed and blended with older reserve wines before undergoing secondary fermentation in bottle. The result is an elegant but assertive wine balanced with fruit and yeast tones.
Barnaut Grand Cru ‘Grande Réserve’ Brut NV
Pinot noir heavy and classically styled with burnished cherry and bakeshop aromas that are mature and integrated. On the palate, this Champagne is rich and full-bodied.
After studying philosophy and psychology at the University of Michigan, Ric Cerrini found himself learning wine under the tutelage of Dick Shear at Ann Arbor’s legendary Village Corner. Nearly 40 years later Ric has launched his own wine emporium, Bon Vin, on Eighth Street in Traverse City. We corner Ric to talk about grower Champagne and the bubble scene in TC’s newest wine shop.
I wanted a selection that’s representative of almost everything that’s available in a variety of styles and price ranges. We have, of course, dozens of Champagnes as well as cremants from all over France, prosecco, moscato and Franciacorta from Italy, Cava from Spain, sparkling wine from California and Washington state, local bubblies and even sparkling grüner veltliner from Austria; all of it anywhere from eight to 100 dollars.
Historically the bigger Champagne houses source their fruit from a variety of smaller growers and blend it together in their various cuvées, but now we’re seeing Champagnes crafted by the growers themselves. They’re making individual statements about their vineyards and bringing style and authenticity with greater value than anything you see from the big brands.