Left Foot Charley2005 Riesling
(Old Mission Peninsula)
Bryan Ulbrich has recently ventured off on his own, leaving the winemaking helm at Peninsula Cellars in the capable hands of little sister Emily. During Bryan’s tenure at Peninsula Cellars, his Rieslings and Gewürztraminers caught the attention of top critics, including Appellation America’s own Editor-at-Large, Dan Berger. Bryan’s wines are now front runners in any Michigan State competition, and the competition is tough indeed, with other Michigan Riesling standouts like Chateau Grand Traverse in the fold. It has been well publicized that Peninsula Cellars claimed a near clean sweep of Best-of-Class honors at the 2005 Michigan State Wine & Spirits Competition, followed by another strong showing in 2006.
Having established that Ulbrich is one talented young winemaker, it would only be natural to expect this streak of excellence to continue in the wines of his own label, Left Foot Charley. And indeed, that is the case with this first release Riesling under the new brand.
From the first sniff, there is that familiar steely minerality that is consistent with Rieslings from Michigan’s northern appellations, Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas. But there is also the mark of the winemaker here too. Bryan Ulbrich has the uncanny ability to amplify the regional and varietal qualities in his wines – as Spinal Tap character Nigel Tufnel would say, “this one goes to eleven”. Here, the minerality is flanked by forward peach and nectarine fruit, with notes of white lily floral spice and a hint of residual sugar. And binding it all together is a wonderful undercurrent of lip smacking acidity that refreshes your palate and keeps you reaching for your glass for another taste, and another, and another. The acidity carries the sweet fruit along with it on a long salivating finish.
This is one outstanding wine, impeccably balanced and everything that a Riesling should be. Sure, it could be argued that in the unusually hot 2005 vintage everyone was making exceptional wines in northern Michigan, but Ulbrich manages consistently outstanding results, regardless of vintage. This first release of Left Foot is now sold out, so consider this recommendation advanced warning that when the 2006 is released later this spring… don’t hesitate, as I can assure you that it will be equally pleasing.
Reviewed March 1, 2007 by Adam Dial.
Brought up in a family with winery ventures in both California and Canada, Adam Dial seeks and appreciates diversity and individuality in wines. He is a Sommelier with more than two decades of experience in the hospitality and service industry, and is a respected wine educator, judge and industry advisor. In 2003 Adam Dial co-founded Appellation America.