The time has finally come for this taster to right/write a great wrong. For some years now, I have referred to myself as a “bubblehead,” a term used to describe someone who so enjoys sparkling wines, they could literally drink them on a daily basis. I have also been, and continue to be a staunch supporter of the burgeoning Michigan wine industry, and yet, in all that time, only once have I reviewed anything from one of the finest sparkling wine producers in the U.S., the Leelanau Peninsula’s own L. Mawby Winery. (Click images to enlarge.)
The irony in all of this is that I’ve talked with Larry Mawby more than a few times over the last several years. He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in the wine industry. I’ve also enjoyed many of his wines, from both the L. Mawby and M. Lawrence labels. Still, I’ve only written about one of them, a delightful thing which goes by the name of “Detroit.” This protracted oversight ends now.
Mawby planted his first vines in 1973, before establishing vineyards at the current Elm Valley location in 1976. Today, the property is planted with about 20 acres of Pinot Noir, Vignoles, Pinot Gris, Regent, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Significant amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are also purchased from other growers on the Leelanau Peninsula for the original L.Mawby line, which is made using the traditional Methode Champenoise. Larry himself has been making these since 1984.
L. Mawby Blanc de Noirs Brut Leelanau Peninsula NV, Cuvee 218, Bottle # 0338 of 4529, 11% alc., $22.99: Clean, medium color, with the barest hint of red pigment. And a fine, very active bead. Like a blend of citrus and red and green apples on the palate, with the fairly ripe fruit playing a nice counterpoint to some underlying minerality; the Pinot Noir is quite evident in the wine’s character. Medium-to-medium-full bodied, with excellent acids, a lingering finish and more-than-ample mousse. Second and third pours are taken easily with this delicious sparkler, and it lends itself to a wide variety of food pairings, including salmon, turkey, grilled red meats and much more. 100% Pinot Noir grapes, handpicked and whole-cluster pressed; fermented in stainless steel tanks, then blended with reserve wines and fermented a second time in bottle and aged en tirage (February 2011) before degorgement (November 2014). Methode Champenoise. Find this wine
L. Mawby Blanc de Blancs Brut Leelanau Peninsula NV, Cuvee 215, Bottle # 3082 of 4425, 11% alc., $22.99: Clean, medium color, with a fine active bead; yeasty bread dough, green apple and mineral flavors are expressive and invite repeated sips and refills. Medium full bodied, with great acidity, ample mousse and nice length on the finish, where an impression of wet stones emerges. This hits all the right notes for me, and while it is eminently food friendly, I’m sipping it all by itself as I finish typing this report, and am a happy bubblehead indeed. 100% Chardonnay grapes, handpicked and whole-cluster pressed. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, then blended with reserve wines, fermented a second time in bottle and aged en tirage (March 2012) before degorgement (June 2014). Find this wine
I’ve had “Sex” on a number of previous occasions (heh heh heh), and always enjoyed it, so much so, that I wrote it into the title song of my CD, “In My Element.” (“I got a bottle o’ Sex, a case o’ Bellaire Brown, I ain’t got no attitude.”) Grapes for M.Lawrence wines are sourced from the Leelanau Peninsula, southwest Michigan and California, thus the absence of a designated appellation on the label. Mike Laing has been responsible for making the M. Lawrence cuve close method sparkling wines since 2010.
M. Lawrence Sex Brut Rosé NV, Batch # 134, Bottle # 0949, 11% alc., $14.99: Mawby calls this a “Fleshy Top-40 Rosé,” and why not? It’s a veritable fruit bowl of bubbly! Medium raspberry/salmon pink in color, with rich, ripe raspberry and strawberry flavors that practically explode on the palate, with some nice mineral in support. Medium bodied, with zippy acidity, good mousse and nice length on the finish. A fun, exuberant sparkler that I can cozy up to on a regular basis, and it really rings the bell when paired with Kim’s home cured prosciutto. A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, handpicked and whole-cluster pressed. Fermented in stainless steel, then blended with reserve wines and fermented a second time in a closed tank [the cuve close method]. The wine is then filtered, dosaged, and bottled. Find this wine
These three wines are all deserving of greater recognition, but are by no means all that Mawby makes. Look for future reports on other selections from both the L. Mawby and M. Lawrence labels; the “research” that goes into these reports is tons of fun for a bubblehead such as myself.
Reporting from Day-twah,