Wednesday, March 5, 2014

St. Julian Named Riesling Champion at 2014 International ‘East Meets West’ Wine Competition

Vineyard & Winery Management combined two of its oldest and most established wine competitions into one by creating the first International "East Meets West" Wine Challenge, February 19-20, 2014 in Sonoma County, CA. The 2012 Reserve Riesling from Michigan-based St. Julian Winery was named “Riesling Champion” – and received one of 964 medals presented during the competition.

Along with this award, the Riesling also took home the “Best of Show” white wine and “Best of Class” – the latter requiring unanimous agreement among judges. In addition, St. Julian also brought home a “Best of Class” for Red Heron and a “Double Gold” for the Braganini Reserve Traminette.

“We are more than proud and honored to be the first Riesling Champions of the International ‘East Meets West’ Wine Challenge,” says Head Winemaker Nancie Corum-Oxley. “Michigan Riesling continues to prove that they are world-class wines. Grown in Southwest Michigan, our 2012 St. Julian Reserve Riesling is a classic semi-dry style that will impress even the most sophisticated palate.”

The Wine
The winemaking technique used to produce this wine begins in the vineyard – specifically, the Burgoyne Ridge Vineyard. With farming roots coming from Germany, the Nitz family started growing juice grapes in Southwest Michigan in the 1940s as a grower for Welch’s and home winemakers. In 1971, the farm started planting wine grape varietals. Dan Nitz, the fourth generation grower in the family, currently manages over 250 acres of juice grapes and 260 acres of wine grapes, while employing more than 20 year-round staff. As the farm continues to focus on wine grape varietals, Dan’s passion for grape growing is evident in the wines that St. Julian produces.

The grapes for the 2012 Reserve Riesling are harvested in the early morning hours, so the fruit is cool when it reaches the winery. After harvesting, the fruit is crushed and destemmed. The juice is pressed to a tank, chilled and settled for 48 hours. The juice is then racked to the jacketed fermenter tank, where the wine underwent a long, cool fermentation at 58 to 62 degrees, Fahrenheit. This process extends the fermentation, which contributions to preserving Riesling’s fresh and fruity character. A special strain of yeast was used in order to “arrest” the fermentation, meaning that cold temperatures were used to inactivate the yeast, giving the wine retained natural residual sugar.

According to Oxley, St. Julian’s 2012 Reserve Riesling is “absolutely pure in flavor, harmonious and well-proportioned in its architecture, this Riesling seems crisp and light, yet packs intense flavors of super-ripe peach, mango, lemon zest and mineral. Its vivid acidity jammed with fruit leaves a wonderful sensation on the palate creating a luscious, food-friendly style. Literally, like liquid fruit.”

This is a bright, clean wine designed to be consumed shortly after release. There is no oak aging to weigh it down. All the aging that took place in chilled stainless steel tanks before bottling to preserve the fresh fruit character.

The Competition
Since 1982, the West Coast Wine Competition has annually recognized wines produced and bottled in the West. The International Eastern Wine Competition, started in 1975, is one of the oldest and longest-running wine competitions in the nation. This year, the competitions merged into one large event.

Wines were simultaneously judged in two established regional divisions: International Eastern Wine Competition and the West Coast Wine Competition. Traditional awards were given in each division. “Best of Show” winners moved on to compete in the “East Meets West Taste Off” to see which wine was best overall. This afforded each entrant two chances to win medals: one in its own division and one in the Taste Off. A Riesling Championship was also held for Eastern wines.

“This challenge allows eastern and western wines to compete in their own right while allowing each to contend on a national scale. We've gotten great feedback from everyone involved,” said event producer and Vineyard & Winery Management magazine publisher Robert Merletti.

According to Director of Wine Competitions Debra Del Fiorentino “Keeping these established brands intact and adding a twist like the East Meets West Taste Off put an exciting spin on the challenge.”

The International Eastern division garnered 34 best of class, 25 double gold, 94 gold, 285 silver and 151 bronze medals. The West Coast division collected 18 best of class, 7 double gold, 38 gold, 179 silver and 133 bronze medals.

For over 93 years, St. Julian Wine Co. has produced award-winning products. From the first shoots of the Michigan spring through the harvest and barrel tasting of late fall, the family tradition that has flourished transforms grapes to wine, fruit to nectar, as passion and science converge bottle after bottle, case after case. St. Julian Winery is Michigan’s largest, oldest and the Midwest’s most awarded winery.

St. Julian Winery
716 S Kalamazoo Street
Paw Paw, Michigan

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