I visited this winery again with a few other board members from the Chicago area last weekend (Allred, LostVerse and our wives). The owner/winemaker, Jim Lester, has been in his new location for over a year now. Tastings are by appointment only and his Wyncroft wines are sold by mailing list only and at some select fine restaurants. I have been visiting, buying and tasting Jim's wines for over 10 years now and the lineup of wines he currently has is by far the most impressive. Anyone who lives in Michigan or has an interest in tasting the best wines that Michigan has to offer needs to contact Jim and get on his list (http://www.wyncroftwine.com/). These wines will change your opinion about the potential of Southwest Michigan and what can be accomplished by a dedicated and skilled winemaker. We were lucky that many of the wines we tasted came from the exceptional 2012 vintage and the very good 2013 vintage. Jim was very generous with the wines he opened and spent about 3 hours with us. I scored 7 wines in the outstanding or potentially outstanding category (90+) with one of them getting a classic score of 95. Here are my notes:

Riesling
  • 2009 Wyncroft Riesling Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Tasted from bottle at the winery. Despite being a cooler year, this wine was ripe. The grapes were picked in November at 19.8 brix and Jim chapitalized the wine. 12.8% alcohol. Solid acidity. These vines were planted in 1989-1990. Gold color. Fine minerality at first with grapefruit notes. Once it warmed up it showed some crushed grape skin flavors as well. Bone dry and expansive on the palate. 89-90 points.

  • 2011 Wyncroft Riesling Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Tasted from bottle at the winery. First time I have had this wine. Another cool year but warmer than 2009 and as a result, Jim did not have to chapitalize this wine. A little bit of petrol on the nose. As this wine warmed up it became more aromatic with floral aromas. Fruitier than the 2009. This wine is in its prime now. Long legs with moderate acidity. Notes of smoke, pears and apples. Dry Austrian in style. Well balanced. 90 points

  • 2013 Wyncroft Riesling Wren Song Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Tasted from bottle at the winery. This was the last wine we tried (Jim didn't seem to want us to leave and kept opening bottles). Grapes were harvested in October. Very minerally with notes of grapefruit and lime. Solid acidic backbone. Not giving this a score because we tasted it out of order. No score.

  • 2013 Wyncroft Riesling Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Tasted from bottle at the winery. We tried this after the reds. This wine took longer to ferment and as a result received extended lees contact. A savory wine with a leesy character and notes of citrus, wet stones and white fruit. Tasted leaner than when I had this last year. No score because of tasting this out of order. However, when I had this last year I thought it could be the best Riesling Jim has made.

Chardonnay
  • 2013 Wyncroft Chardonnay Cuvée Rae Lee Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Tasted from bottle at the winery. Last had this from barrel a year ago. 2013 was a very good but not great year in SW Michigan. Made in an unoaked Chablis style. 13.5% alcohol. Similar notes as before. Fresh honeycrisp apples, cool pears and some spices. A touch of heat on the finish. 87 points.

  • 2011 Wyncroft Chardonnay Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Tasted from bottle at the winery. First time I have had this wine. The Chardonnay vines in the Avonlea vineyard are old California clones from Robert Young and Mt. Eden. Light gold color. Creamy texture and rather opulent. Notes of butterscotch (which Jim thought tasted more like creme brulee), white pepper and poached peaches. I'm curious to see what Allred and TLV gave this wine as they prefer Chard much more than I do. 88 points.

  • 2013 Wyncroft Chardonnay Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Barrel sample at the winery. 2nd barrel sample I've had with the other being a year ago. This wine will be bottle in early September. 13.5% alcohol. Notes of vanilla, toast points, citrus and cactus. The finish had some warmth to it. I preferred the 2011 which we had from bottle. 87 points.

Pinot Noir
  • 2012 Wyncroft Pinot Noir Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (8/29/2015)
    From bottle at the winery. This has been bottled for 1 year. A ruby/scarlet color. Wonderful structure and elegant for being so young and from a ripe vintage. 2012 was a hot year which produced very ripe fruit. Bright fruit with notes of pomegranite, roses and cherries. Fine silky tannins. A lovely well proportioned wine. Burgundian style. 47 cases produced. Jim thought this would be in it's prime in 3-4 years. This is the best Avonlea Pinot since the 2005 vintage. 91 points.

  • 2013 Wyncroft Pinot Noir Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Tasted from an unlabelled bottle at the winery. This was bottled on June 18th and has not been released. 2013 was a warm year but the growing conditions were not as ideal as 2012. This was more tannic and tasted like it had more acid than the 2012. Aged in 1/3 new Cadus oak barrels and 2/3 used Freres oak barrels. 2nd time i have had this wine. Gone was the sulfur, cola and tart notes that the barrel sample had a year ago. Nice round texture now. A little heat or alcohol on the nose which should subside with more bottle age. This had a fleshy mouthfeel with notes of burnt cherry, chocolate and berries. This should be a longer lived wine than the 2012. 88+ points.

  • 2014 Wyncroft Pinot Noir La Esperanza Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore, Fennville (8/31/2015)
    Barrel sample at the winery. This is the first vintage which Jim Lester has made this wine. Made from purchased grapes sourced from a small vineyard located in Glenn, MI in the Fennville AVA. The vineyard is a mix of sand and clay. The grapes were picked at 22.2 brix and yielded enough juice to make 25 cases (1 barrel). This will be bottled in about a month as it was fairly complete now. 13% alcohol. Aged in used French oak. Dark ruby red color. Aromas of toast and strawberry jelly on the nose. Fine acidity with a beautiful underlying minerality. Rather Burgundian in style. Bright and lively fruit with notes of red currants and raspberries. I was surprised by how ripe this wine was considering 2014 was a cooler year. 90-92+ points.

  • 2013 Wyncroft Pinot Noir SWMREC Cuvée Dr. G Stanley Howell - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (8/31/2015)
    Barrel sample at the winery. The grapes for this wine came from the Southwest Michigan Research Center vineyard which is run by Michigan State University. This is the first and last vintage that Jim Lester will make of this wine since MSU ripped out these vines after the grapes were picked. This wine is named after the man who started the Enology and Viticulture program at MSU, promoted Michigan viticulture and played an important role in the SWMRC site. The vineyard was in Berrien County near Benton Harbor. This wine was more tannic, ripe and had more alcohol than most of Jim's Pinot Noir. The reason being that the SWMRC called Jim in mid October to offer him the grapes so they were picked late in the year. A concentrated wine with 14+% alcohol. 25 cases produced. Crimson color. Long thick legs. Creamy texture with firm tannins and a little heat at first. Ripe berries with some spiceiness on the finish. Solid acidity. 88 points.

  • 2013 Wyncroft Pinot Noir Trillium Springs Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    This was the last of the Pinot Noir barrel samples poured at the winery. This is the first vintage Jim Lester has made from this vineyard which is managed by his Son. The vines are only 5 years old and the 2 acre vineyard is located a mile or two East of New Buffalo, MI. The vineyard is planted to 50% Dijon 115 clones with the other half being Swan, Chalone and Hansell clones. Only 1 barrel (25 cases) will be made. Aged 6 months in new Cadus oak barrels before being transferred to used barrels. This was a very different style than his other Pinots and a bit of a diversion from the style Jim normally makes. I found this to be very Californian. Garnet color. Very tight and tannic at this stage. Young and probably in need of more barrel time (or perhaps bottle it and delay its release) but I think Jim had plans to bottle this soon. notes of black tea leaves, cinnamon and blackberries. Dry and almost puckering now. Will be interesting to see how this evolves. Reluctant to score this in the condition it is in but I would give it an 85+ at this stage.

Bordeaux Blend
  • 2012 Wyncroft Shou Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Tasted from bottle at the winery. This was the last red which we tried and the best in my opinion. 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. From the excellent 2012 vintage. The grapes were picked at 23 brix in early to mid October. 13% alcohol. As you would expect from the blend, this was left bank in style. Round silky texture and well proportioned. Supple tannins. Notes of graphite, ripe red berries and leather. The best Shou that I have had (matched only by the 2003 in its prime) which includes the 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2013. I purchased a magnum of this and plan on holding for 8-10 years. 92 points.

  • 2013 Wyncroft Shou Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Merlot Barrel sample at the winery. 7 barrels of the Shou are being made (the largest ever) and this sample was from a barrel which had 60% Merlot with most of the rest being Petit Verdot and a little Cab Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. 2013 produced a bumper crop of ripe Merlot in SW Michigan. Dark purple color. Firm acidity in this sample. Notes of puckeringly tart red fruit with cocoa and brown sugar. No score.

  • 2013 Wyncroft Shou Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Cabernet Barrel sample at the winery. 7 barrels of the Shou are being made (the largest ever) and this sample was from a barrel which had 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Cab Franc. The wine had a better structure but showed some green notes at this stage. notes of tobacco, plum and pencil lead. The body in this sample was lighter than the Merlot barrel. No score.

  • 2013 Wyncroft Shou Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Barrel sample of a cross section of all varietals in this blend. The final blend will be about 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. This combined sample was rounder and more complete than the 2 separate samples. A perfumed wine. Bright and fresh on the palate. Notes of brambly fruit, light oak and some green pepper on the finish. This last descriptor will hopefully resolve. 2 of the 7 barrels in this cuvee spent 9 months in new French oak. 87-91 points.

Dessert
  • 2013 Wyncroft Riesling Icewine Wren Song Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/1/2015)
    Tasted from bottle at the winery. 2nd time I have had this wine but the first was a barrel sample. This was harvested at 40.7 brix on January 2, 2014 at 7 degrees above zero. 8.8% alcohol. 20-25% of the grapes were affected by botrytis. This has really added some depth since I last had it. A wow wine. Laserlike acidity holding all the sugar and fruit together. Some sesame and woody aromas. Notes of candied apricots, almond paste, honey, tropical fruits and botrytis nuances. 95 points.

VM
Original Post
Very small production. Only 25 cases of half bottles. Price is $50. I think Allred and Lostverse scored it about the same as I did (I'm sure they will chime in eventually). There is one other score on this wine in CT from Loren Sonkin who gave it a 96.

VM
Didn't know he was doing Cab and Merlot. I know his Chardonnay and PN and figured he'd be better off with something like Blaufrankisch.

Very credible producer though, and he's the one who caused me to realize that Michigan was actually serious about wine. Maybe they're not best in class yet, but having grown up there, I couldn't have been more skeptical. I wish him well.
I have three or four more notes to finish. The icewine was incredibly impressive- I believe I scored it 95 as well. It has wonderful fruit, acid and length in the finish. At $50/375ml, it has value in its class. I'll wrap up the last few notes and get them up this weekend.
WYNCROFT WINERY VISIT - Michigan (8/28/2015)

Vino Me, as part of our gourmet weekend, set up a Friday afternoon tasting with Jim Lester of Wyncroft Winery. Jim and Dawn were gracious hosts, pouring many wines and spending a few hours taking us through the lineup. Thank you very much for hosting us!

Riesling
  • 2009 Wyncroft Riesling Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    From a cool vintage in which some of the grapes were allowed to hang into November, this pale Riesling diplays notes of grapefruit/citrus, lime zest and unripe stone fruit with underlying sulphur and mineral nuances. The fruit on the palate is very nice- pear and stone fruit, with quince and mineral qualities as well. There's good acidity keeping it balanced and lively. We revisited it later on and it had warmed slightly, becoming a bit more rich with a nice honeycomb and pear blossom qualities, but maintaining balance on account of the underlying acid. Impressive. 90-91 pts. (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Wyncroft Riesling Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    Another cool vintage, this was tighter than the '09 but displayed great varietal character with stone and diesel notes under orchard fruit qualities. Flavors of limestone and orchard fruit on the palate, developing an earthy clay-like quality as it opened and warmed. Not as bright as the 2009, I felt the acidity was softer and the wine suffered slightly as a result, though I think I was a minority of one with this opinion. Still, a very solid Riesling. (88 pts.)
  • 2013 Wyncroft Riesling Wren Song Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    Brief impression only. Somewhat similar fruit profile to the '13 Avonlea with unripe peach notes dominating, though there's an orchard fruit quality underneath. This seems to be more mineral-driven and I think I prefer it to the Avonlea.
  • 2013 Wyncroft Riesling Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    Brief impression only, tasted after the icewine. Aromas of unripe peach and basil with a savory edge on the palate. as enough acidity and a nice finish. (89 pts.)

Chardonnay
An added bonus, we tasted the Pinot Grigio from the Marland label- Jim's second project.
  • 2013 Wyncroft Chardonnay Cuvée Rae Lee Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    A rich Chardonnay, this pours a deep yellow and shows banana, pear and apple aromas. The palate follows the bouquet, with banana, pear and spice flavors. It has a lengthy finish. (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Wyncroft Chardonnay Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    Similar to the Rae Lee with an initial aroma of banana, which turns to vanilla crème, stone and apple. Flavors of orchard fruit and blonde butterscotch with a subtle earthy/dirty quality. We came back upstairs and had a chance to revisit a few wines, this among them. This has opened very nicely- the obvious tropical fruit and banana has faded to a background note and orchard fruit and honeycomb aromas have come forward. There's a nice Meursualt-like nuttiness on the palate now as well. Initially I rated this a few points lower, but I am enjoying this much more now. Give this a couple of hours to open if consuming now. (89 pts.)
  • 2013 Wyncroft Chardonnay Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    Barrel sample. This sees 20% new wood. Aromas of banana, spice, orchard fruit and tequila- I find it very interesting. Banana and orchard fruit on the palate with a long finish. There's good potential here. (89 pts.)
  • 2014 Marland Pinot Grigio - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    I'll start by saying I enjoyed this quite a bit. Lime and grapefruit notes followed by hints of marshmallow and a Gewurtz-like lychee/gooseberry thing. Rich texture, with good balancing acidity and flavors of spice, melon and grapefruit. 89+ pts. (89 pts.)

Pinot Noir
  • 2012 Wyncroft Pinot Noir Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    Deep color with aromas of tea leaf, cherry, Asian five spice, cardamom, and rose hips. Develops a nice earthy quality as it opens in the glass. Good structure; flavors of cherry, red berry fruit, spice and just a hint of wood. Lovely, with a lingering finish. Very impressive. 91-92 pts. (91 pts.)
  • 2013 Wyncroft Pinot Noir Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    Bottled in June, this displayed aromas of clay, spice, black raspberry and cherry. Medium tannins; structured, but with nice fruit too. Flavors of cherry, Christmas spices and cocoa nibs. (90 pts.)
  • 2014 Wyncroft Pinot Noir Glenn Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore, Fennville
    Barrel sample. Made from grapes purchased from the Glenn Vineyard in Fennville. Most impressive. Aromas of cherry, lavender and florals, spice and dark fruit. 13% abv, harvested at 22.2 brix. Flavors of cherry, spice and violets with a lingering finish. Nice underlying acidity. 92+ pts. (92 pts.)
  • 2013 Wyncroft Pinot Noir Cuvée Dr. Stan Howell - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    Weighing in at 14% abv, this fruit was given to Jim after significant hang time. Control of the vineyard belonged to Michigan State University, and they gave the grapes to Jim and then ripped out the vines. The grapes got ripe and it showed. Aromas of black fruit and sassafras with hints of raisin underneath. Flavors of dark fruit, spice and cola. This style will have fans, but I am not among them. (85 pts.)
  • 2013 Wyncroft Pinot Noir Trillium Springs Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    From barrel. Made from a two acre site planted 50% to Dijon 115 clones, with the rest a mix of Swan, Chalone and Hansel clones. This has spent six months in a new Cadus barrel. It shows cinnamon, black cherry and tea notes with a subtle raisin background quality. The tannins overwhelm the fruit on the palate at this stage, but hopefully the fruit will come out with time in bottle. difficult to rate at this stage of its evolution.

Bordeaux blend
  • 2013 Wyncroft Shou Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    Barrel sample dominated by Merlot (60%), which was co-fermented with 10% Petit Verdot and the rest Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark color. Aromas of blueberry, black cherry, pepper and dried herbs. Blueberry, black cherry, plum and spice flavors on the palate. Medium tannins with a rustic edge. (88 pts.)
  • 2013 Wyncroft Shou Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    From barrel, 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Cabernet Franc. Aromas of green tobacco, herbs, clay and black fruit. Cassis, black currant, dried green herbs and dusty earth on the palate, with firm tannins. Nice length in the finish. Again, slightly rustic. 88+ pts. (88 pts.)
  • 2013 Wyncroft Shou Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    A blend of the two previous samples which will end up being the final blend, and the sum of the parts was better than the components. There are seven barrels for the Shou, two of which are new in which the wine will have spent nine months. Aromas of blueberry, black currants, perfume/potpourri, clay and green tobacco. Tannins are firm but fine-grained. Flavors of dark fruit, berry and green tobacco. Very nice. (90 pts.)
  • 2012 Wyncroft Shou Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. Aromas of licorice, graphite, black fruit and macerated berry. Structured, with plenty of fruit underneath. Medium tannins. Black fruit, pepper and red berry qualities with a good finish. 91+ pts. (91 pts.)

Sweet
  • 2013 Wyncroft Riesling Icewine Wren Song Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore
    The grapes for this wine, of which one quarter were botrytisized, were harvested on January 2nd when the temperature was a balmy 7F. The bouquet is amazingly complex and so very lovely, featuring peach, wildflower honey, violets and apricot. I love the bright floral edge here. The palate is rich and layered, but never cloying or heavy as there's plenty of underlying acidity. Apricot and ripe peach flavors linger on the finish. A legitimate show stopper. (95 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker
quote:
Originally posted by Redhawk:
Thanks for the notes, guys. I need to get down to SW Michigan to try some of these places sometime.

If you ever get down here, let me know. I'll arrange a visit at Wyncroft since it is by appointment only and show you around to the better places.

VM
quote:
Originally posted by Vino Me:
quote:
Originally posted by Redhawk:
Thanks for the notes, guys. I need to get down to SW Michigan to try some of these places sometime.

If you ever get down here, let me know. I'll arrange a visit at Wyncroft since it is by appointment only and show you around to the better places.

VM


That would be awesome! I'll have to try to figure out how to make that work sometime.
2003 Wyncroft Shou Avonlea Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (9/25/2015)

Opened by a friend. Not decanted but opened about 3 hours. 5th time I have had this wine and it has been consistently fine. 79% Cab Sauvignon, 17% Cab Franc and 4% Merlot. Nose of herbs and forest floor. Notes over cherry and raw meat. A multi layered wine with good depth of flavors. Solid tannin. Old world character. Holding up great for 12 years old. This 2003 and the 2012 are my 2 favorite Shou's. 92 points

VM
A brief update on some of these wines. Wyncroft just released some of the single vineyard Pinot Noirs that we tried and they will ship to Michigan, Florida and Illinois.

Jim decided not to release the 2013 Trillium Springs Pinot because he was not happy with how it developed. He bottled 2/3 of it for the vineyard owner, a few for himself just to see if it will come around and used the rest to top off some barrels.

Apparently the polar vortex took a toll on the Avonlea Vineyard and he was not able to harvest any grapes from that site in either 2014 or 2015 (this is the vineyard which produces his Estate Pinot and red bordeaux blend called Shou).

VM

2013 Wyncroft Riesling Icewine Wren Song Vineyard - USA, Michigan, Lake Michigan Shore (5/21/2018)

Opened a bottle last weekend. No formal notes but just as good as ever. A spectacular wine. Also, I spoke with the winemaker about 2 weeks ago and he had just come back from a tasting with the sommelier at Alinea and Next and there is a good chance this wine shows up on one of those lists. 95 points.

VM

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