Donna and I visit Leelanau at least once or twice every year, and Good Harbor is always on my short list of wineries to visit. The tasting room and vineyards are located between Lake Michigan and Lake Leelanau, just south of Leland. There always seems to be a cool breeze blowing but rays of sun to warm your skin and that of the maturing grapes on the vine.
Bruce Simpson, who started the winery in 1980, had a special winemaking touch that I appreciated. Unfortunately, he died--way too soon--a couple of years ago, leaving his wife Debbie and his children to carry on. The 2008 vintage was the last vintage Bruce oversaw, and the 2008 Good Harbor Tribute Chardonnay is a fitting tribute indeed. It's developed beautifully since I tasted it last September. French oak aromas have integrated well with the many splendored Chardonnay fruit; complex white peach, melon and green apple flavors dance across the palate, leaving a very long after taste. Strong fruit and plenty of acid for aging. The 2008 vintage in Leelanau was an excellent one, and the winery believes this is one of the best Chardonnays produced at Good Harbor, and I agree. Whereas nearly all of the other Good Harbor wines are priced in the $10 to $12 range, this Tribute Chardonnay sells for $25 ($21.25 with the 15% case discount). Even by Artisan Wine on a Budget standards, this is an excellent value.
Other Good Harbor wines I tasted:
2008 Leelanau Chardonnay: a bit less elegant and complex than the Tribute, this regular Chardonnay also displays the great fruit from the 2008 vintage. It was aged for three months in neutral French oak (older barrels). Bright fruit flavors with a full mid-palate and developing complexity. For $12.50 a bottle, it's an even more amazing value.
2006 Good Harbor Pinot Grigio Reserve: I still have a bottle of this I bought on last year's visit, and I'm pleased to find that it's become deeper and broader over that period. Great Pinot Gris aromas with some added richness from 20% barrel fermented Chardonnary.
2010 Good Harbor Riesling: I finished my tasting with this Late Harvest Riesling. Lots of sweet upfront fruit--white peaches, apples plus some of the mineral element that I found in the Pinot Grigio. Nicely focused flavors on the finish, dry enough to go with a spicy meal as well as dessert.