In the 1980s, when wineries first started to pop up on Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula, Vignoles was a workhorse grape, and I regularly bought dry Vignoles from Larry Mawby, Bernie Rink at Boskydel and Bruce Simpson at Good Harbor. For my taste, it had less sweetness and more personality than Seyval Blanc, the other popular white wine grape. (Riesling, of course, has always been well suited to the climate of Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas.)
Today, Vignoles is the forgotten grape as new vineyards have veered toward better known varietals such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir and Merlot. Larry Mawby now uses his Vignoles grapes for a sparkling wine, and Good Harbor uses it in several proprietary blends. For authentic dry Vignoles, Boskydel is now my only source, and I make a yearly pilgrimage to chat with Bernie Rink and bring home a case of the liquid gold. I am a fan.
While 2009 may not have been the greatest vintage for Leelanau whites, this Vignoles still measures up to my standards. It's a medium deep color; looks like Chardonnay in the glass. And it also has the full bodied mouth feel of Chardonnay...but accompanied by the brisk acidity of Sauvignon Blanc or Gruner Veltliner. It's a great combination. I smell grapefruit and later red berries and Red Haven peaches. Flavors are round and ripe, but again with a bracing acidity and a pleasantly bitter note on the finish.
Bernie Rink tells me this Vignoles will only get better with age. And I believe him.