Friday, December 21, 2018

Michigan Wine: Old Mission Peninsula

The locals call it paradise on a peninsula.  Michigan's Old Mission Peninsula wine region sticks out of the northwestern edge of the state's main body, into Lake Michigan.  Situated on the 45th parallel, about the same latitude where you find Bordeaux, it's a 19-mile spit which juts northward and forms the east and west sides of Grand Traverse Bay.  It's only four miles wide at its broadest point.  They grow wine grapes there.  The blue waters surrounding the land are some 600 feet deep, that produces what they call a "lake effect" which I am told protects the vines with snow in winter, slows bud break in spring to avoid frost damage, and extends the growing season by up to four weeks.

There's a thriving wine AVA on the strip of land, along with breweries and distilleries.  I've tasted Michigan wines before and found them to be of very high quality, so I had high expectations when the OMP reps sent some of their wines to me for review.  I was not disappointed.

At the base of the peninsula is Traverse City, which is where Two Lads Winery is located.  They have 23 acres of sustainably farmed grapes and make a variety of wines, mostly red.  Their tasting room boasts a view of the east bay.

Two Lads Winery Bold Cabernet Franc 2016

The wine - 85% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot - was allowed to complete full malolactic fermentation, creating a fuller mouthfeel and weight, then aged for nine months.  45% of that aging took place in stainless steel tanks, 40% in used oak barrels and 15% in a large French oak tank.  The alcohol content is blessedly restrained at 13.3% abv and it retails for $35.

The wine is excellent.  A nose that promises blackberries and chocolate is followed by a palate that is dark, rich and complex.  The fruit has accompanying notes of black pepper, anise and mocha.  The mouthfeel is smooth, yet the tannins are firm enough for a ribeye.  Don't limit yourself, though.  This is a great wine for a chocolate pairing, the darker and richer, the better.

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