Tuesday, August 19, 2008

St. Julian Winery Introduces Award-Winning Braganini Reserves to Michigan Restaurants & Retail Outlets

(PAW PAW, Mich) – St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw has introduced its top-of-the-line Braganini Reserve wines to retail outlets and restaurants throughout Michigan. These wines, considered the “best of the best,” are receiving national acclaim and capturing awards at some of the country’s top competitions.

Currently, St. Julian is producing 10 varieties of its reserve wines with Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Traminette being the most decorated. Chancellor, Cabernet Franc, Meritage, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Rose and Riesling round out the Braganini Reserve line.

“Producing the Braganini Reserve wines is time consuming, but well worth the effort,” says Dr. David Miller, St. Julian’s Vice President of Winemaking. “All of our vineyards are carefully tended, but the reserve vineyards get the most TLC. When its time to harvest, we use special time-consuming techniques to produce the reserve wines.”

Techniques such as soaking the white with the skins to extract more flavor and making the wines more intense. Yeasts are selected to maximize the flavor and aroma of each individual variety of grapes. White wines are fermented around 60 degrees Fahrenheit to retain the delicate aromas and flavors.

The reserve red wines are all barrel aged for 12 months in either American, French or Michigan oak barrels. Once the wines are near the end of barrel aging, another selection is made from the barrels so that only the best barrel lots are chosen. The final blend is worked out and then Dr. Miller and his associate winemaker, Nancie Corum, do fining trials to polish the finished wines. Wine fining involves “tweaking” the wines so that it is the best it can possibly be.

According to Dr. Miller, the fruit for the reserve wines comes from the very best local vineyards, on soils that produce low-vigor vines – the first step in growing the world’s great wines. The Traminette is grown by Mike Nitz near Baroda while Joe Herman, who also owns Karma Vista Winery, grows the St. Julian’s Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Merlot, Pinot noir and Cabernet sauvignon grapes near Coloma. Cabernet franc are grown by both Ron Nitz near Baroda and Dr. Miller near Lawton. Chancellor is produced exclusively for St. Julian by Ed Oxley Farms of Lawton and, the reserve Riesling grapes are produced in Dr. Miller’s vineyard, also near Lawton.

“The 2007 season was long and warm, producing wines with intense varietal character,” Dr. Miller says. “The whites are crisp with bright flavors and aromas. The reserve reds are still in barrels, but they are filling out nicely and we expect a superb vintage.”

Sauvignon Blanc
The Braganini Reserve Sauvignon blanc won a Silver Medal at the 31st Annual Michigan Wine & Spirits competition, as well as Bronze Medals at both the Pacific Rim–National Orange Show and Great Lakes Great Wines Competition. It also received Gold Medals from both the Taster’s Guild International and LA International Wine & Spirits Competitions. The LA competition is touted by USA Today as one of the Top 5 wine competitions in the United States. First held in 1935, the competition has maintained the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.

Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most sought-after wines in the world, and for good reason. This brisk and refreshing white wine has classic Sauvignon Blanc aromas, bursting of lemons and limes. The crisp acidity on the palate is accompanied by flavors jam-packed with mangos, white peaches and tropical fruits, with a lingering hint of fresh cut grass. Each satisfying sip is rewarded with a long, lasting finish.

The 2006 was St. Julian’s first vintage of Syrah grapes and just 350 cases were bottled. Noted as the first commercially produced Syrah in Michigan, this wine received a Bronze Medal at this year’s Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition and a Silver Medal, with an 85 ranking, from the Beverage Tasting Institute.

Syrah produces its best, most elegant wines in cool climates like that of Southwest Michigan. The inviting aromas of Bing cherry, black raspberry and white peppercorns, with a hint of vanilla, contribute to the rich flavors and soft tannins that linger and satisfy. The wine is very much in the style of the wines from the northern Rhone region of France, where Syrah originated. Fermented in small tanks and punched down by hand, twice a day, this wine was aged in ½ new Michigan oak barrels and ½ older Michigan oak barrels, for a wine that is a complete Michigan product.

“It is one of my favorites,” says Dr. Miller. “It was a difficult vintage with lots of rain, but the fruit was sound and we let it hang as long as possible for aroma, flavor and color development.”

The Braganini Reserve Traminette recently won Best of Class – Semi-Dry White at the 2008 Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition. This year, it also received Chairman’s Best of Class at the Long Beach Grand Cru Competition, a Critics Gold at the Critics Challenge International Wine Competition and a Gold Medal at the LA International Wine & Spirits Competition.

Traminette was developed by Cornell University in the 1960s and was released to the public in 1996. The Braganini Reserve Traminette has the fine characteristics of its better known parent, Gewurztraminer. Exotic aromas of mango, orange peel, melon and pear leap from the glass. Crisp acidity and a hint of sweetness create the perfect framework on which flavors of peach, mango, apple, and lemon zest dance. The long, satisfying finish begs another sip and the racy structure is the perfect accompaniment to shellfish, seafood and Asian cuisine.

Several other Braganini Reserve wines received medals at the 2008 Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition, including a Silver Medal for the Meritage and Bronze Medals for the Cabernet Franc, Chancellor, Merlot and Riesling.

“Our wines stand shoulder to shoulder with their counterparts at national competitions and win gold,” says Dr. Miller. “That speaks volumes for our climate, soils and vineyards. Michigan, but specifically Southwest Michigan, is consistently producing world-class wines."

The family-owned St. Julian winery – Michigan’s oldest and longest-operating winery – was founded by Mariano Meconi in 1921. Today, grandson David Braganini has adopted the family tradition of winemaking while turning St. Julian into Michigan’s most renowned winery, nestled in the picturesque fruit-growing region along the southern shore of Lake Michigan.

As one of 11 wineries to make up the Lake Michigan Shore Appellation – a designated American Viticultural Area (AVA), St. Julian has been instrumental in the creation and advancement of the Southwest Michigan Wine Trail, the marketing vehicle for this group of wineries. In addition to its primary facility in Paw Paw, St. Julian also operates tasting rooms in four other Michigan cities including Dundee, Frankenmuth, Parma and Union Pier. You can also find them online at www.StJulian.com.

David Braganini, President – St. Julian Winery
269-657-5568 / davidb@stjulian.com

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