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st julianI have just arrived in Michigan for my first taste of Michigan wine. While provisioning from the local supermarket I came across this bottle as my introduction. And appropriately so.

St. Julian is the oldest and largest winery in Michigan. It was founded by Mariano Meconi, an Italian immigrant, in 1921 and has been owned and operated by his family for four generations. Their current winemaker, Nancie Oxley, is Michigan’s first female head winemaker.

The winery has received many awards for its wines and uses only Michigan fruit so I’m rather excited to try it. But of course I lack the context to compare it to other Michigan wines. My judgment will inevitably be a comparison with Riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes, which I have tasted extensively. It will be a comparison of wines from similar climates but vastly different soil types.

So how does it taste?

The nose is surprisingly tropical showing fruit cocktail, guava and a hint of tangerine with a mineral halo. The palate is plump and juicy with grapefruit and lemon-inflected acidity and intriguing bitter hints as the finish fades.  With 1.2 grams of residual sugar, it creeps into the off-dry range,  or in less technical jargon, it’s a little sweet at opening although it finishes dry and refreshing.

A changeling, fleshy and giddy  but surprisingly agile and a goodbye look that makes you wonder if it was an act. Pair with some summery samba-inflected funk from Bebel Gilberto.

As to the comparison with the Finger Lakes, one can’t generalize about one wine. But the St. Julian reminded me of some of the fruitier, exuberant expressions from the Finger Lakes. some of the best wines in the Finger Lakes have an austere mineral character. It will be interesting to see if Michigan can match that range of expression.

A steal for $10

Score: 88

Price: $10 (purchase here)

Alc: 12%

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