It was great fun to sit down with Paul Hamelin of Leelanau Peninsula’s Verterra Winery at Twisted Olive and taste through the new releases. Paul also brought along some of the 2011 wines for review. Overall the wines from this producer are getting better every year. When wandering through Northern Michigan you would do well to stop at their tasting room. The partners in the winery are Paul Hamelin, with a history in the pharmaceutical industry, and Skip Telgard of the Blue Bird Restaurant. They both state the goal of creating wines that flatter food and in the 2012 vintage I assure you they have succeeded with whites. Reds are still aging but I am in great expectation.
What is true across the board with the 2012 Verterra wines is a reduction in the residual sugar of the whites. Most of the 2010 and 2011 offerings hovered in the range that was noticeable in the flavor profile. Although this was in no way a flaw, it placed the wines with a different wine drinking group. My opinion is that in 2012 nature gave them juice that needed a drier fermentation to achieve balance. It seems that the Verterra team agreed with me.
Here are my rather raw tasting notes:
2011 Verterra Pinot Grigio – Aromas of crisp green apple with some of the skin, tart apricot and lemon juice, white flower petals and some ripe peach come into play, banana and honey, crisp bright and refreshing with a barely perceptible touch of residual sugar which rounds off the finish. Approximate Retail $12/btl
2012 Verterra Pinot Noir Rosé - deeply pink to bright cherry in color which is admittedly very pretty…Nose of light honey, ripe strawberry, bing cherry pie, talcum and that youthful bubble gum note of post fermentation…Very fruit forward with a crisp raspberry finish, a little touch of white pepper, and then a watermelon driven finish. If you are a lover of Loire Valley Rosé d’Anjou this wine will make you smile as it is pleasantly not dry but not sweet either. Approximate Retail $16/btl
2012 Verterra Pinot Blanc - Nose of white pepper, wet stone, reminiscent of a wet slate patio, makes you think of grapes with grey skins, ripe banana, subtle white flowers, ripe yellow apple flesh, the youth of the wine really makes the nose pop, lovely crisp lime to green apple acidity. I really love the style of this wine as it is the driest pinot blanc Verterra has made. This wine is reflective of the unique ability that Northern Michigan has to make great pinot blanc based wines. This is a must try! Approximate Retail $24/btl
2012 Verterra Unoaked Chardonnay - Aromas of ripe green apple flesh, canned pineapple, talcum and green banana…also a light apricot note and that same honey undertone consistent through all the wines…In the mouth it has a rich texture, lovely lime zest, unripe pineapple, even pineapple juice… long green apple and lime/ passionfruit finish. Really nice. Approximate Retail $18/btl
2011 Verterra Reserve Chardonnay - Aromas of red apple, ripe pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon and then comes an apricot/passion fruit note, almond and hazelnut notes from aging on the lees, nice cut of bitterness in the nose, very European in fruit profile but still has a generousness that is inherently attractive to the lover of chardonnay from the USA. Well done! Approximate Retail $25/btl
2011 Verterra Dry Riesling - Driven by lime juice and skin with tart pineapple and green apple..When tasted it offers green apple skin and apricot follows, light pink grapefruit, truly lovely. Would be much better and more expressive it 3 to 5 years. Hope someone has the patience to wait. Approximate Retail $19/btl