Today’s Wine Wednesday is about a wine which is blend of two white grapes from a cellar in Michigan. I got this wine as part of a wine club, the Cork Club, that I joined late last year. The wine comes from Neu Cellars and is called Ripper. The blend is 90% Cayuga and 10% Riesling. It is brought to the New York City area by Jenny & Francois, a New York City based natural wine importer. The SRP for this wine was $27.
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 found a great resource here about Michigan wines. 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 and Cayuga. The area is located on the 45th parallel. Agriculture has a long history here even if grapes and especially vinifera grapes have been a much more recent trend in the area, only since the 1970s.
The winery makes 25 cases of this particular wine and unfortunately they are sold out on the company website otherwise I would order a case immediately. The wine was incredibly refreshing and light with piercing acidity and great citrus aromas and flavors. I loved it with a salad and frittata that I made. Before I turned around the wine was finished by my Mom who was sharing the meal with me. We agreed that it was a wine we’d love to have again. The press Riesling was then added before bottling. The wine was left to age on its lees for 5.5 months before it was hand disgorged in April after the harvest.
Cayuga is a cross between Vitis labrusca hybrids Schuyler and Seyval Blanc which created at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. It does very well in cold areas and is resistance to rot. It does better in cooler climes than warmer ones. It has good acidity and makes a very nice sparkling wine but it also makes semi-sweet wines, sweet and dry ones too. It can be great on its own and also in blends like this one with Riesling or with other varieties such as Seyval and Vidal.
I used to be resistant to hybrids and crosses kind of as a knee-jerk reaction but a few trips to the Finger Lakes and other areas convinced me of the era of my ways. I hope you are open to them too.