I tasted my first wine from the state of Michigan this week from Neu Cellars. It’s a lovely Riesling from 2019 called Splash. I knew nothing about the winery when I ordered it as part of wine club I recently joined. The club is the brainchild of Lenn Thompson. Oddly enough, it’s distributed in NYC by Jenny& Francois, an importer that I have come to know better these past few months. I know Jenny has a great palate so I was excited to try these wines and have my first sip of Michigan wine. I had said in January that it was going to be my mission to try wines from two different US States a month, ones that I don’t know. I wrote a few weeks ago about Biltmore winery from North Carolina and today it’s Michigan’s turn.
Neu Cellars is a father-son partnership. The son had loads of winemaking experience from his time at Ravenswood in California. My understanding is they buy fruit from Old Mission Peninsula. They ferment without adding anything. Jenny is well-known for her work bringing natural wine to the fore. I’ve never been one for ideological wine buying or being focused only on one kind of wine, including natural wines.
That said, I’ve been thinking a lot about this term and the wines in the past months as I look for sustainable wines and vineyard practices when I write about them. I listened to a fascinating discussion this week on the topic by Simon Woolf and Andrew Jefford as part of the Wine Scholar Guild webinar series. I highly recommend reading their views on the blog. Back to Michigan wineries though, I found a great resource here. Apparently there are 140 wineries in the state. There are four AVAs in Michigan. Some parts of the state have glacial soils and many of the wineries are located in areas with a mild microclimate thanks to the Lake and other bodies of water.
The Old Mission Peninsula AVA is one of the four AVAs in the state, given in 1987. It is located in Northern Michigan, in Grand Traverse County, The area is impacted by water which surrounds the peninsula. It’s 19 miles long by 3 miles wide. Frost is not an issue here because of all this water. Still a cool climate region, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay are white grapes that do well here. The area is located on the 45th parallel. Lake Michigan and the Grand Traverse bay are two large bodies of water that impact this area. Agriculture has a long history here even if grapes and especially vinifera grapes has been much more recent trend in the area, only since the 1970s.
Tasting this wine was a breath of fresh air. It had racy acity, was very fruity with grapefruit pith and lime and also had grass and hay notes. It was great with a shrimp broccoli dish I made as well as with a salad with tomatoes and carrots. I’ve finished the bottle but luckily have another one to try. I’m super excited by this find. Not inexpensive at $25, I really enjoyed the experience and this first sip of Michigan.