Friday, March 29, 2019

Michigan Rosé

"From wine what sudden friendship springs."  British author John Gay wrote that, likely for his book entitled, "Wine," but I like him for writing his own epitaph, which is carved into his Westminster Abbey resting place: "Life is a jest, and all things show it, I thought so once, and now I know it."

The former quote today floats across the website for Hawthorne Vineyards, on Michigan's Old Mission Peninsula.  Founder Bruce Hawthorne and his wife have deep roots in northern Michigan and planted a vineyard through their interest in agriculture.

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.  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.  The blue waters surrounding the land are some 600 feet deep, which produces what they call a "lake effect."  That 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.

Winemaker Brian Hosmer turns the grapes into wine, which the Hawthornes label as their passion.  They say the grapes are a product of the 26-acre vineyard's complete terroir, from the soil to the climate to the plot's proximity to the lake.  From their tasting room's beautiful porch guests can see the blue water of Grand Traverse Bay's West Arm.

Hawthorne's 2016 Rosé is made using the saignée method, in which the juice is bled from the newly-crushed grapes.  The blend reportedly includes 40% Cabernet Franc, 26% Pinot Meunier, 13% Merlot, 12% Pinot Noir, and 9% Gamay.  It hits 13.2% abv and goes for $12 a bottle.

This wine looks, smells and tastes like an elegant Pinot Noir despite the fact that the grapes gets fourth billing.  Cabernet Franc, Pinot Meunier and Merlot lead the way, with Gamay bringing up the rear.  The color is very strong for a rosé, and the Meunier brings a note of Champagne to the mix while the Cab Franc is pronounced on the palate.  This drinks like a red wine without the tannic structure.  It's very pleasant and leaves a bit of tea on the finish.  Quite nice.

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