Wine column | Wine Culture

St. Julian introduces new red and Reserve Late Harvest Riesling

Just in time for Michigan Wine Month, St. Julian is rolling out two new wines that are delicious, affordable and available — a trifecta for wine lovers!

The new 2011 St. Julian Late Harvest Reserve Riesling, $12.99, in fact, is the total wine package I have been waiting to see in this state — a wine so good your taste buds weep and a label and bottle that are elegant and understated enough to be served at a State Dinner. The wine, off one of the biggest and ripest vintages in Michigan since 2005, offers a blast of tangerine, white peaches, white flowers, apricot and lime. It’s so intense you can taste the tannins on the skins. It’s sweet, but balanced with Michigan’s trademark acidity.

In sync with today’s “drink local” trend, the back label offers full discovery: the local grower’s name, Dan Nitz; the vineyard name, Arrowhead;¬†along with the harvest date, sugar at harvest and residual sugar of the wine.

“We’re going to start doing this with all of our wines,” says ¬†David Braganini, owner and president of St. Julian in Paw Paw.

St. Julian’s other surprise is a dry red blend called Cock of the Walk, $10.99, which in appearance could blend in with any of the playful, quirky labels coming out of Lodi, Calif., or South Australia. The sturdy bottle has high broad shoulders, and the label that blasts across the front features a jaunty, colorful, clearly boastful rooster that has lots to crow about.

The wine is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink blend of nearly all the red grapes grown in Michigan but led off by a newcomer, Zweigelt, which most people connect with cool-climate Austria. And yes, this wine has a cool-climate personality in a good way — acidity to give backbone to the belt of ripe plums, blackberries, dark cherries and vanilla. It’s decidedly not sweet and flabby.

Among the stores that carry the Late Harvest Riesling are Westborn, Busch’s, Hiller’s and Market Fresh. Look for Cock of the Walk at Westborn, Busch’s, Merchant’s Fine Wine, Champane’s and Wine Palace. If you can’t find them, tell your retailer the wholesaler is National Wine & Spirits.

MICHIGAN WINE EVENT

>>Michigan Wine Showcase: 6-8:30 p.m. April 30 at the Rattlesnake, 300 River Place, Detroit. Organized by Master Sommeliers Claudia Tyagi and Madeline Triffon, the event will preview the 2011 vintage and feature more than 100 wines, with many winemakers on hand. Rattlesnake Executive Chef Chris Franz will prepare appetizers. Cost is $40 in advance, $45 at the door. For tickets, call Karel Bush at (517) 241-4468, email bushk9@michigan.gov or go to the website.

FROST IN WINE COUNTRY

A cold snap a week ago in southwest Michigan killed most of the juice grapes intended for Welch’s and some of the early wine grapes including Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. Wally Maurer at Domaine Berrien Cellars said his early wine grapes were damaged, but later-developing varieties were spared. Mark Johnson, winemaker at Chateau Chantal up north, says the vineyards have survived dips into the high 20s following the 80-degree days in March. “We’re knocking on wood,” he said, hoping they will be spared a killer frost in May.