The 2012 Left Foot Charley Pinot Gris is sourced from a 2 acre vineyard (Tale Feathers) in the Old Mission Peninsula AVA near Traverse City on Lake Michigan in Upper Michigan. They have been growing grapes on the Peninsula since 1870, but didn’t really get serious about it until the 1970s. The Old Mission Peninsula is located on the 45th parallel, which if you follow that line and cross the Atlantic Ocean will take you thru Bordeaux, Burgundy and Alsace. What seems far north to us is actually the middle of Europe. The Left Foot Charley Winery is located in an old Insane Asylum in Traverse City, Michigan and they source their grapes from 18 small Michigan vineyards. You would think it is too cold to grow grapes that far north, but Lake Michigan (which isn’t a lake, but an inland sea) moderates the temperature and provides a coastal climate that is similar to coastal California, but much colder in the winter. This Pinot Gris was aged in large French oak barrels for 7 months. The alcohol content is 13.6%.
The color is almost clear. The nose is stone fruit, melon and orange blossom honey. This Pinot Gris (it is dry, not sweet) has a ying/yang thing going on, crisp, but husky with some weight behind it and tart, but with mellow, mingled fruit. It tastes of melon, lemon/lime, dried apricot and a hint of Anjou pear. The acidity is well-balanced, some Pinot Gris/Grigio can be acid bombs, but with this one the fruit, citrus and acidity work well together. The finish is subtle, but does last and last.
The wine world gets larger every year, the 2012 Left Foot Charley Pinot Gris is a delicious, interesting, worthy White wine. The list price is $18, which is very reasonable for a small volume, less than 300 cases produced, boutique, hand-made wine. The Michigan wine industry is growing up, they have gone from sweet German-style and fruit wines, to very serious wines made from the classic wine grapes. Keep an eye out for Michigan wines, they are definitely worth your attention.