Mike Laing of Mawby Sparkling and bigLITTLE Wines was holding court and he had everyone in the loft section enraptured with his discussions of winemaking, and even discussing contract purchases of grapes, and how the Vineyard Manager is going to different estates, checking on the quality and health of those vines as well. It was a pleasure hearing him talk about the different AVAs in Michigan and he even discussed Larry Mawby who was one of the pioneers in the Leelanau Peninsula, but he also mentioned Bernie Rink of Boskydel Vineyard (Bosky means “befuddled with drink, inebriated”) the proprietor of the first bond winery in the region back in 1976. Some referred to him as a curmudgeon and some as the “Wine Nazi” as he didn’t want tour busses of inebriated, partying “wine tasters” invading his serene and rustic winery.
The wine tasting at The Royce was a bit more sedate compared to the always fun Mawby Sparkling with the bell and gong ringing. The third wine that was being poured was Mawby Sparkling Blanc Brut Leelanau Peninsula NV and made in the traditional Methode Champenoise. The wine is a blend of eighty percent Chardonnay and twenty percent Riesling with a minimum of sixteen months Tirage ageing. It was stressed that the classic sparkling wines from Mawby Sparkling use hand-harvested and whole-cluster first gentle pressing for the juice, the later pressings which contain more phenols, tannins and acids are reserved for other, sweeter sparkling wines. The initial fermentation is done in Stainless Steel and then the young wine is transferred to bottles for the Tirage ageing. This is considered their most delicate and refined wine. This soft pale golden colored wine offered notes of lemons, brioche and yeast. On the palate the delicate white fruits and lemon zest along with the traditional brioche added to the refreshing and clean finish. It was my favorite of the bubbles.
Then along side the third wine the fourth wine was bigLITTLE “Underdog” Gamay Leelanau Peninsula 2020. Since the wine names are from childhood memories, I thought of a cartoon series called Underdog, but I was told it was a certain way of utilizing a swing set for maximum velocity at a park. This Gamay Noir fruit is harvested from their Stoney Point Vineyard. The fruit is handpicked and crushed, and the wine is fermented on skins, with ten percent undergoing Carbonic Fermentation. At the end of fermentation, the wine is pressed again and racked to barrel and then undergoes full Malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for eight months in French Oak, of which twenty-five percent is new and it is bottled unfiltered. There were two-hundred-eighteen cases produced. The wine is a lighter garnet color with notes of red fruit and black pepper. It is a medium bodied with tones of berries, vanilla and a touch of pepper with a medium count finish with lingering fruit.