Maker: St. Julian, Paw Paw, Michigan, USA.
Grape: Tempranillo (at least 85%)
Place of origin: Lake Michigan Shore AVA, Michigan, USA
Purchased for $21 (Troy Tasting Room)
Appearance: Dark ruby.
Nose: Cherry jam, red currants, cedar.
Palate: Medium bodied. Dry but fruity. Red currant jelly, black raspberry, clove.
Finish: Slightly chewy with a tang.
Parting words: Back in July, when we were visiting the Wyncroft/Marland winery and vineyards, I was talking with owner James Lester about some of more unusual European grape varieties that some vineyards have been attempting to grow recently. He mentioned a few varieties that were being grown and expressed skepticism at whether they could successfully be grown in Lake Michigan Shore. I mentioned Tempranillo (primarily grown in Spain, and he said, “Well…actually Tempranillo is grown in the highlands so it can probably do pretty well here.”
Judging by this wine, Tempranillo can indeed be successfully grown in Southwest Michigan. While no one would mistake this wine for a high-end Rioja Gran Reserva, this is a quality wine, roughly equivalent to a Crianza. It’s excellent with beef or rich pork dishes, from braised beef shank to pepperoni pizza. I didn’t notice any drop in quality over the three nights we drank it, either, which bodes well for its cellar life. That said, it’s drinking very well now, so I wouldn’t hold onto it for much longer than another 6 months to a year.
$21 is a fair price for a Michigan Tempranillo, given its rarity and quality. Braganini Reserve Trempranillo, 2016 is recommended.