Fair to Midland.

So, the actual saying is "fair to middlin." This may have been a Scottish wool-rating term, but folks in Texas and Michigan have been misquoting it for years. Anyway, this roundup of Michigan wines covers some Michigan whites that are definitely worth seeking out, but do not go to 11 (on my Spinal Tap rating scale). Let's get to it!

Bel Lago Auxerrois

Bel Lago 2007 Auxerrois 13% Alcohol (About $13) Auxerrois is a crazy grape with a confusing heritage.  Related to Chardonnay, but similar to Pinot Blanc, and named similar to a Malbec in some countries, it presents a challenge to sell.  I'm happy Bel Lago decided not to slap a cutesy name on it like many other Michigan wineries do. Similar in character and style to an Alsatian Pinot Blanc. The color is an attractive pale green straw.  A thin body, with no immediately noticable legs. On the nose, crisp apple and lemon with light oak. There is an herbal aftertaste, with some minerality, similar to Alsatian styles.  Some toffee on the finish as it warms. Pleasant (I like Alsatian styles), but as a fellow taster mused: "This is like the guy in the next cubicle that you make simple talk with, but he's not really that interesting." Rating 6/11, but better as it opens up.

Left Foot Charley Pinot Blanc

Left Foot Charley Old Mission 2009 Pinot Blanc, 12% Alcohol 2009 was a tough, cold summer for Michigan growers, and on top of this challenge Left Foot Charley's Pinot Blanc is made from a single acre of grapes.  Very risky, and only a competent vintner paying attention could make it work. First, this has been one of the few Michigan wines I've sampled with a screw cap. I applaud the use because it means less spoilage, more convenience, and has nothing AT ALL to do with the taste of the wine. The color is a clear golden white in the glass and is fairly viscous, similar to Oregon styles.  Aromas of spiced bread, apples, honeydew and lemon are all evident. There is  tart acidity, similar to unripe nectarines, coupled with an oaky dryness. A medium body and a lingering Granny Smith apple on the finish.  Very much Michigan on the flavor profile. Overall pleasant, but I would love to taste this as a sparkling wine. Rating 6/11. I need to find the right pastry and cheese dish to match, possibly a spinach pie?

Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling

Chateau Grand Traverse 2008 Late Harvest Riesling. 10.5% Alcohol (about $15) One of the more popular Michigan varietals, and one that the winery is proud of. Color is a very light gold in glass, with characteristic viscosity, clinging to the edge heavily. I noticed an off aroma initially, heavy with yeasts and a faint bilious odor, but this quickly resolves to honey, lemon and apple aromas, even graham cracker crust for a nice apple pie! As you would expect, very full-bodied, with mouth watering acidity.  Neither bright nor light, but definitely a comfort wine, bordering on dessert. Rating 6/11.  Please take into account that sweet wines and Rieslings in particular are not my bag. The Michigan wine tour continues with a few more whites, some Cab Francs and other red blends (expect me to dis the sweeter reds, which I'm trying to steer clear of).  There may even be a Fall color tour in the works with a few special purchases to share. Incidentally, tonight I found a new source for Michigan wines locally.  Westborn Market has stepped up to provide a greater variety of Michigan products, including a few bottles I haven't seen in my neighborhood before.  Thanks, Westborn!

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