Photo from Puppethead at Flickr.com.
The Taste of Minnesota may be six months gone and six months yet to come, but some Minnesota winemakers have bottled it up for you to enjoy by the glass. Andy Hall, the wine buyer at Surdyk's, recommends five great bottles of wine with Minnesotan roots.
While Minnesota's climate may be less than ideal for grape growing, some locals have triumphed over the bitter cold, long winter and short growing season through a combination of sheer passion, determination and hard work, aided by a little crossbreeding action at the University of Minnesota, and, at times, abetted by relocation.
This sweet Riesling produced by Winehaven, a Minnesota winery founded by the Peterson family in Chisago City, is filled with plenty of peach and apricot flavors. Hall says good acidity balances the fruitiness to make this a great wine for fish and other seafood dishes.
2. Alexis Bailly Vineyards Voyageur Red ($24.99)
Nan Bailly, winemaker at Alexis Bailly in Hastings, uses the new University of Minnesota grape, Frontenac, to gain a high level of fruit expression in this wine, says Hall. The soft and medium-bodied texture of this red has a full berry taste with a bold finish.
3. Saint Croix Vineyards Raspberry Infusion ($14.49)
"An award-winning sweet wine that provides fresh fruit raspberry essence that you will crave!" Hall says. Made in Stillwater, this 75 percent raspberry wine achieves balance using grape-neutral spirits and red wine. Hall says it goes great with chocolate, perfect for dessert.
4. Domaine Coteau Pinot Noir ($34.99)
A Minnesota native, Dean Sandifer is now a well-known winemaker of Oregon Pinot Noir. Hall says Sandifer "makes wines that display a sense of place - Oregon climate and soil reflected in the bottle." Sandifer's Pinot Noirs have solid depth of flavor and Burgundy aromas.
5. Witness Tree Pinot Noir ($26.99)
Steve Westby is a Minnesotan who has become a respected winemaker in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Hall says this is Westby's best wine, although Westby also makes an interesting lineup of wines under the Elemental label. "He believes in low grape yields for the best fruit," Hall says of Westby, "The resulting wines have elegant fragrances and rich concentrations of fruit."
Pick up a bottle and pour a glass of one of these local favorites to remind yourself of the fabulous potential of this frozen tundra.
Surdyk's is open Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is located at 303 East Hennepin Ave.
and can be reached by phone at 612.379.3232.