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WTN: New Wines from Wincroft (Michigan)


geo t.
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Jim and Rae Lee Lester stopped in to see us recently during one of their promotional visits to Day-twah, and they brought along samples of their latest bottlings. We've been very enthusiastic about the wines of Wyncroft since we first tasted them last winter, so we were geeked to see what their new bottlings were like. As always, Jim and Rae Lee are very upbeat about their mission to produce world class wines in southwestern Michigan, and once again, they've succeeded admirably. As Jim explained, "We have this gorgeous Michigan fruit. People have to understand, Michigan doesn't have to take a back seat to anyplace on this planet for the quality of fruit that we can grow. We've got the terroir, we've got everything."

The three wines we tasted with them are young and tight, but even so, their quality and potential is unmistakable. We started off with the Chardonnay.

2000 Wyncroft Lake Michigan Shore Chardonnay Avonlea, $30, 14.6% alc.: As Jim poured glasses of this greenish gold Chardonnay, he remarked that it had been uncorked for about two hours and had needed the time to open up. It exudes a lovely, effusive bouquet of spicy, toasty oak over honeyed tropical fruit, with flavors to match. Well chilled, the flavors run more in the tropical - pineapple spectrum, but as it warms in the glass, sweet apple, pear and praline come to the fore; Jim mentions buttered toast and fresh baked cookies from the malolactic fermentation. The wine is well structured (Jim says it'll age ten years and more from the vintage date), exhibiting a deep, rich viscosity, and some mineral emerges on the long, lingering finish. Barrel fermented, using native Burgundy yeast, in Allier forest, medium - plus - toasted barrels (25% new, 25% one - year old and 50% older), it went through full malolactic fermentation, with battonage every two weeks, then remained on the lees for two years. (Jim remarked, "I think leaving it on the lees for a long time creates harmoniousness in all of the flavors that is hard to get if you're in a rush.") Its best days are ahead of it, but unfortunately, it's sold out at the winery; however, you can enjoy this delicious Chardonnay at some of Michigan's finest restaurants, including the Five Lakes Grill (recently awarded Restaurant of the Year by the Detroit Free Press) in Milford, The Rattlesnake Club, in Downtown Detroit and the Unique Restaurant Group. I found it to be an excellent accompaniment to chicken shwarma sandwiches from the Pita Café‚ in Oak Park.

2002 Wyncroft Lake Michigan Shore Pinot Noir Avonlea, $45, 14.3% alc.: A smoky ruby garnet in color, fading at the rim, this shows sweet, smoky black cherry and Asian five spice on the nose, with like flavors that gain a note of rhubarb, along with what Jim describes as "a little bit of tree bark flavor that's typical of young Pinot tannins." This has a good dose of those fine tannins to take it well down the road (although the Lesters feel that it should be hitting its stride in about a year), and as it warms in the glass, some brown spice emerges to add complexity and charm. The wine paints a broad swath across the palate, with no holes in the middle, and shows very fine potential indeed. It was made from a mix of Hanzell, Joseph Swan, Chalone and Mahoney clones, along with a majority of Dijon clone 777; after three weeks maceration, it spent two years in barrel, half new, and half in one - year old Alliers, then very recently was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Only two barrels (55 cases) were produced.

2002 Wyncroft Lake Michigan Shore Shou Red Table Wine, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, $45, 13% alc.: The tight, youthful character of this Bordeaux blend was obvious from the first sip, but then, it was bottled just two weeks before we tasted it. Showing a deep, dark garnet color, fading at the rim, it offers up a lovely perfume of sweet oak, balsa, cassis, blackberry and black cherry that echoes beautifully in the flavors with some added sweet spice, and hints of mint. Jim noted chocolate and cocoa powder on the finish, and as the wine opens dramatically in the glass, something like a wild, brambly blueberry and even a little raspberry emerge. It needs a year or so to come together, but promises to be every bit as good as the previous model. Fermented with Bordeaux yeast, macerated for more than three weeks to extract fine tannins according to classical French technique, then gently pressed and aged in new Nevers medium - plus toasted barrels for 26 months.

Click here for our full Gang of Pour feature, including added Wyncroft background, images and comments from the Lesters.

Reporting from Day-twah,

geo t.

George Heritier aka geo t.

The Gang of Pour

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George,

Sounds like Michigan wines have come quite a ways since I last tried one some 20 years or so ago while traveling in the Paw Paw area. The owners seem pretty "proud" of the wines given the pricing North of $30...guess the tarrif surprises me a bit for a relatively unknown area trying to make a mark.

Redwinger

"I'm trying to think but nothing happens"
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George,

Sounds like Michigan wines have come quite a ways since I last tried one some 20 years or so ago while traveling in the Paw Paw area.   The owners seem pretty "proud" of the wines given the pricing North of $30...guess the tarrif surprises me a bit for a relatively unknown area trying to make a mark.

Redwinger

They charge what they have to, Curley, and the highest priced wines are the first ones to sell out.

Fancy that... :wacko:

Edited by geo t. (log)

George Heritier aka geo t.

The Gang of Pour

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