Monday, February 18, 2019

Michigan Wine from Old to New, St. Julian to Amoritas

February's weekly #WineStudio twitter chat is focusing on Michigan Wine and the non-profit collaborative Michigan Wine Collaborative (see intro post here).  The second week focused on two wineries St. Julian Winery from the ‏Lake Michigan Shore AVA and Amoritas Vineyards from the Leelanau Peninsula AVA -- most notable in that St. Julian is Michigan's oldest and largest winery and Amoritas is a relative newcomer.

Family-owned St. Julian Winery has been operating since 1921 when Italian emigrant Mariano Meconi founded Border City Wine Cellars in Ontario at 26 years of age. Following the repeal of Prohibition, he moved across the border into Detroit and then eventually to the winery's current location in Paw Paw while changing the name to The Italian Wine Company. In 1941 the operation was christened St. Julian Winery to avoid any antifascist sentiment and to honor the the patron saint of his native village, Faleria, Italy. For the next eight decades St. Julian has facilitated the growth in the Michigan wine industry through the emphasis on hybrid and fruit wines to the more recent single varietal viniferia wines. Last week, winemaker Nancie Oxley presented two of these single varietal viniferia wines, a Riesling and a Grüner Veltliner.

2017 Mountain Road Riesling Lake Michigan Shore AVA ($19.99)
The 20 acre Mountain Road Estate was planted in the late 2000s  by David Braganini, third generation owner of St. Julian Wine Company and his brother John Braganini. This estate lies upon porous sandy soils and experience warm sunny days transitioning to cool evenings - very suitable for retaining acidity in wine grapes. Starting in 2015 the Riesling harvest was whole clustered pressed resulting in less juice but higher quality which was then inoculated with a yeast strain used mostly for Sauvignon Blanc. Fermentation is stopped at 1.1% residual sugar to balance with the enhanced acidity. The result is a weighty wine, full of citrus flavors, slight petrol and loads of refreshing acidity.

2017 Braganini Reserve Grüner Veltliner Lake Michigan Shore AVA ($19.99)
In 1967 Ed & Phyllis Oxley purchased a farm located on the highest point in the county and planted with grapes and tart cherries.  This elevation provides abundant drainage and diurnal temperatures for the 100 acres of wine grapes which include Grüner Veltliner. These grapes are cold fermented - lengthening the process to enhance aromatics and acidity. And separate picking provides both tropical and grassy elements. The result is a delicious wine, with citrus aromas, tropical fruit, and racy acids. Showing its pedigree, the previous vintage was awarded the 2017 Jefferson Cup for White Vinifera Wine.

Amoritas Vineyards is a 150 acre estate located in the Leelanau Peninsula AVA - home to Michigan’s first wine trail. The estate consists of rolling hills and sandy loam soils providing a very suitable climate for wine grapes. Initially the Goodell family sold fruit to other vineyards but more recently they have begun releasing small production single varietal wines. During our #Winestudio session Viticulturalist Emily Goodell presented their 2016 Rose Crest Vineyard Chardonnay - the first harvest from vines planted three years previously in 2013.

2016 Rose Crest Vineyard Chardonnay, Leelanau Peninsula ($21.00)
This unoaked wine provides typical Chardonnay descriptors of soft apple and citrus with subtle minerals and refreshing acidity.  Nicely done particularly from such young vines.

For more on Michigan wines participate in the final #Winestudio session on February 19th 2019 at 9PM E.T. Cheers.

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