Monday, July 27, 2009

Larry Mawby's Sparkling Wine Picnic

Larry Mawby was an English major in college, and that may explain his aesthetics of winemaking. It starts with the soil and the vines, and it ends with a poem on the label and a moment of intense pleasure.

Mawby has been making Leelanau Peninsula wines for about 30 years and is now producing only sparkling wines--bottle fermented methode champenoise under the L. Mawby label and tank fermented (Cuvee Close) sparkling wine under the M. Lawrence label. Sitting on the deck of Mawby's tasting room, sipping a flight of sparkling wine and nibbling on a cheese or whitefish appetizer is one of the great pleasures of life that I think everyone should experience at least once every summer. This year, however, Donna and I went one step further and signed up for Mawby's July 25 Summer Sparkling Wine Picnic. Although the weather was a bit rainy, we were sheltered under a tent in the vineyard where we could enjoy four sparkling wines accompanied by a three-course lunch presented by North Shore Catering.

As a greeting wine, the L. MAWBY CONSERVANCY was very good, with nice toasty, biscuity qualities and a full range of flavors. In the middle of the sweetness range, it was a good aperitif, and my second favorite of the afternoon. Some proceeds from the wine go to help support the Land Conservancy--hence, the name.

The M. LAWRENCE WET was accompanied by a crisp, tart Jicama Salad. It was fruitier than the CONSERVANCY, like an apple tart with a nice round feel but noticeably less complexity and flavor interest than the CONSERVANCY.

The L. MAWBY CREMANT CLASSIC was my favorite of the day. It's a wine made from 100 percent estate-grown Vignoles. You can almost smell the high-acidity of the Vignoles fruit--intense and persistent aromas that are not as toasty as those of the CONSERVANCY but no less enjoyable. The wine is even better on the palate with a burst of spicy flavors. It was a perfect match for the grilled tuna with tropical salsa and jasmine rice.

L. MAWBY JADORE is a sweeter wine with 3.5% residual sugar, and it matched up well with the dynamite chocolate cake with Raz Collie Anglais presented by North Country Caterers. It's a fruit sweetness, though, and there is plenty of balancing acidity. The aromas are closer to those of CONSERVANCY, although not as doughy. The apricot/apple flavors tickle the tongue on the finish and make you beg for more.

Even with the rain, it was a lovely setting for a Sunday afternoon picnic, spiced by Larry's sparkling wines and wit. For me, the Cremant and the Conservancy were the highlights of the tasting. But when I'm in the wine store or restaurant, I will still opt for my traditional L. Mawby favorites, the Blanc de Blancs and the Blanc de Noir.

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