Compelling Michigan Red – Wine & Spirits Magazine

Compelling Michigan Red


Mari Vineyards’ Tasting Room and Bella Vista Vineyard during the Summer Solstice. (Photo: Two Twisted Trees Photography)

Mari winemaker Sean O’Keefe blends nebbiolo, schioppettino, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and merlot in this odd and oddly compelling red. It comes from Irish Vineyard, at the tip of the middle finger that is the Old Mission Peninsula, all but surrounded by the cool waters of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay. As with many of Mari’s reds, O’Keefe’s viticulture team places a device similar to a hoop house over the vinerows which he calls a “Nella Serra” (roughly, Italian for greenhouse); it traps and preserves warmth late in the season and draws harvest well into October—enough so that the alcohol on this wine is just shy of 14 percent. This feels sturdy, vinous, defined by the nebbiolo and perhaps the piney tannins of cabernet, filled out by schioppettino, with scents of plum, dried cherry, creosote, olive leaf; that green note cradles the fruit with firm tannins. Pair this with slow-cooked Bolognese, or the roast lamb shoulder at LA’s Bavel.

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Mari 2016 Old Mission Peninsula Ultima Thule

Every week, our editors highlight a wine that intrigued them in our blind panel tastings, expanding on their tasting note in this space. These are entirely editorial choices; there are no paid placements. Subscribers can also access the original tasting note by searching here.

Patrick J. Comiskey covers US wines for Wine & Spirits magazine, focusing on the Pacific Northwest, California’s Central Coast and New York’s Finger Lakes.


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