On my last visit to Boskydel Vineyards, I bought two bottles of the 2008 Vignoles, and those bottles were good enough to bring me back last weekend to buy a case. Alas, I was too late; the Vignoles was sold out, with the next vintage not due until next Spring. So I bought a case of the 2008 Boskydel Soleil Blanc and may end up liking it even better than the Vignoles.
Boskydel is by far the least commercial of the wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan, and it is also one of the best. Owner Bernie Rink, now in his 80s, is not a salesman and doesn't specialize in vintages of the century. "You wouldn't want the 2009," he said. "That was the worst vintage I've had in 40 years of winemaking."
I was disappointed by not getting my case of Vignoles, but the Soleil Blanc--Boskydel's highest priced wine at $9.35 a bottle or $71/case (including tax)--intrigued me. "What is the grape?" I asked. "Soleil Blanc. Oh, the French have a number for it. But I'm the only person in the country making a Soleil Blanc wine."
I liked the clean, crisp aromas and flavors. It has pleasant fruit but lacks the acidity I expect from Vignoles. "Will it age?" I asked. "All wines improve with age," Bernie answered flatly. And I knew exactly what he was saying. There are, of course, bottles that go downhill--or sideways--from the day they are placed on the shelves, but they don't meet Bernie's (nor my) definition of wine.
He showed me an empty bottle labeled Boskydel Red, 1980. "This was sent to me by a couple who had the wine last New Year's Eve. They loved it." I needed no convincing. The few bottles of his 1982 Vignoles that I kept on a back shelf of the cellar for nearly 20 years rewarded my patience...and then some.
Soleil Blanc clearly lacks the acidic thrust of Vignoles. "It won't age as long as the Vignoles," Bernie said, "but it will improve for at least 10 years." I'm not sure I will have the patience (or the longevity) to taste Soleil Blanc at its best, but I'm willing to give it a try.