Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Two Great Wines from Left Foot Charley Winery (MI)

So, I was at Eastern Winery Exposition 2020 when I tasted this wine. I have never before heard of Left Foot Charley winery, which was established in 2004 by Brian and Jen Ulbrich. Left Foot Charley is located in the former Northern Michigan Asylum in Traverse City, Michigan. According to their website, "LFC is a Michigan version of an Austrian Heuriger – a place where aromatic and flavorful wine is an everyday event...the non-traditional setting pairs perfectly with the atypical fruit sourcing and old-style winemaking that defines LFC. Left Foot has a committed  focus on red and white wine varietals, hard cider, and sparkling wine."

Their fruit sourcing is a point of pride. "Throughout Northern Michigan, there are numerous small vineyards owned and farmed by individuals who do not have wineries. The grapes were often sent to giant blends. Many of these viticulturists are excellent farmers and deserve to see their work turned into wine. Left Foot Charley has teamed up with Northern Michigan’s best 18 growers to produce wines that display the range of aroma and flavor found among the glacially tilled hills of our appellations. Lake effect, soil composition, vineyard aspect, and grower mentality shape these flavors individually. Each vineyard sells only to LFC and the commitments go beyond simple cash per ton arrangements. Through mutually established goals, their farms are defining terroir in our appellations. Our goal is to bring their work to the bottle."

This of course right to my wine geek heart - some of the wines are vineyard designate, others are blends of regional fruits - this is all local fruit grown by local farmers. I am totally jonesing on this place already. The winemaker is Brian.

The Left Foot Charley Pinot Blanc Old Mission Peninsula 2018 was fantastic! Fresh lemons and oranges, pear, and apple explode out of the glass! A lovely spiciness is accompanied by slightly mineral notes, and a lovely, refreshing, zippy finish. Absolutely mouthwatering. Elegant. Complex. Fabulous!

 Left Foot Charley Kerner 2018 was a huge surprise. First of all, what the hell is Kerner?

Kerner Weinsberg 20060908.jpg

According to Wikipedia: "The Kerner grape is an aromatic white grape variety. It was bred in 1929 by August Herold by crossing Trollinger (a red variety also known as Schiava grossa or Vernatsch) and Riesling.[1][2] Herold was working at a plant breeding station in Lauffen in the W├╝rttemberg region of Germany. This station belonged to a state breeding institute headquartered in Weinsberg. It received varietal protection and was released for general cultivation in 1969.

Kerner has been named in honour of a poet and physician from Swabia, Justinus Kerner, whose works included songs and poetry on wine. Kerner lived from 1818 to his death in Weinsberg. In 2006 Kerner was the 8th most planted variety in Germany with 4,004 hectares (9,890 acres) and 3.9% of the total vineyard surface."

According to Brian, "The Kerner grape has a penchant for cool climate aromatics and ripens with low enough acidity to warrant a dry wine in most vintages. This dry wine is good for the farmer, the wine maker, the consumer, and the cellar. As interest in delicate dry wines continues to grow across the country, Michigan Kerner offers a distinct vinifera varietal from a very unique terroir."

A very aromatic wine with lots of finesse and power. Great acidity, lovely floral notes, and a terrific long lasting flavor, this is a wonderful wine that deserves more attention and a  grape I would like to see more of.

Wonderful stuff!