Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Grape Spotlight: Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan Pinot Blanc

Pinot Blanc, the pale-skinned Pinot mutation that shares a genetic fingerprint with Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, is favored in cold climate regions such as the Alto Adige region of Italy (Pinot Bianco), Alsace in northeast France, Baden and Pfalz in Germany (Weissburgunder), Niederosterreich and Burgenland in Austria (Weisser Burgunder), Canada's Okanagan Valley, and in Michigan.  The grape itself is quite versatile where globally it is used in the production of still, sparkling, and sweet dessert wines and in general produces a medium to full-bodied style of wine with apple and almond characters and finishing with abundant acidity. Oak treatments are possible but often overwhelm and mute the mineral and smoky characteristics.

In Michigan, Pinot Blanc thrives in the cool conditions and sandy soils of the Old Mission Peninsula AVA where Lake Michigan creates a very favorable grape growing environment. The “lake effect” snow protects the vines in the winter from freezing temperatures and provides a diurnal change in temperatures during the summer. Think refreshing acidity which is the case for the Left Foot Charley Old Mission Peninsula Michigan Pinot Blanc ($18).  This wine also features green apple and pear flavors along with racy saline and a round mouthfeel. Left Foot Charley also produces a single vineyard Pinot Blanc, the 2017 Island View Vineyard Pinot Blanc ($25) which is Michigan's oldest Pinot Blanc planting dating back to 1995. Cheers.

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