A couple of months back I spent the better part of a week in Lodi, California. It was my first time there and to say I was impressed with the wines I tasted would be a severe understatement. The folks in Lodi are doing a lot of different things these days.
In general terms, they started out as bulk grape growers for large wineries located both in Lodi and elsewhere. Certainly that still exists in Lodi and helps a lot of farmers keep the lights on, but what’s far more interesting is the burgeoning number of small and mid-size wineries bubbling to the surface. These wineries produce artisanal wines from specific plots of land. In some cases, larger wineries are also focusing their efforts on adding small production, site-specific offerings to their portfolios. I tasted a lot of fine, delicious, and fairly priced wine while I was in Lodi.
This delicious assortment of wines doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface when it comes to Lodi. Interesting things are afoot in Lodi and not everyone realizes it yet.
Here’s a look at seven offerings in particular that I’m still thinking about a few months later.
Harney Lane Rosé ($17)
This rosé is composed of zinfandel, Petite Sirah, & Tempranillo. Ripe wild strawberry and crème fraiche aromas fill the nose here. The palate is stuffed with watermelon and Bing cherry characteristics. This is a dry rosé that exhibits a little hint of sweetness. Tons of exuberant, fresh fruit flavors continue through the finish along with white pepper and additional subtle spices. This selection is terrific on its own and absolutely stunning paired with Asiago cheese.
St. Amant Winery 2013 Mohr-Fry Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel ($18)
Composed entirely of zinfandel from the namesake vineyard, this wine was aged over a period of 10 months in barrel. Wild strawberry and raspberry aromas fill the nose. The palate is stuffed with brambly, somewhat jam laden fruit that screams classic Old Vine Zinfandel. Pomegranate, blackberry and mineral characteristics are in evidence thorough the above average finish. This is a well-rounded, proportionate example of zinfandel that shows off hints of big, flashy fruit but never ventures over the top. Pair it with pizza, pulled pork, or many things in-between for a satisfying matchup.
Harney Lane Albarino ($19)
An entirely varietal wine it was aged in a combination of stainless steel and neutral oak. Lemon zest and toasted almond aromas light up the nose here. The palate is stuffed with pineapple, guava, and savory herb characteristics. All of these elements and a significant spice component emerge on the above average finish which showcases precision and depth. This is a mouthwatering wine that’s simply difficult to put down.
Acquiesce Winery Grenache Rosé ($22)
Composed entirely of grenache, all the fruit came from the Lodi Mokelumne River area. Bing cherry and spice aromas fill the nose there. The mouthwatering palate is stuffed with watermelon and a bevy of other red fruit characteristics. Al these flavors continue on the finish along with bits of sour cherry and white pepper. This perfectly dry rosé works equally well on its own or paired with the classic light foods of summer.
Acquiesce Winery 2014 Picpoul Blanc ($24)
This varietal wine is currently produced in tiny quantities from 100 vines in total on their property. There are a boatload of appealing topical fruit aromas in evidence on the nose here. The lovely and gentle palate is stuffed with fleshy yellow melon flavors which are counterbalanced by bits of spice and hints of mineral. The crisp and clean finish is refreshing and zippy. Soft cheeses would be a perfect pairing for this wine.
Michael David Winery 2013 Ancient Vines Cinsault ($25)
The fruit comes from the Bechthold Vineyard which was planted in 1885 and is believed to be the oldest Cinsault vineyard in the world. It’s the only vineyard designate wine in the Michael David portfolio. Wild strawberry aromas dominate the alluring nose here. The palate is soft, gentle and refined. Red raspberry and continued strawberry elements dominate. Cranberry, pomegranate, and a ton of spices emerge on the long finish. Firm acid keeps things in check. This beautiful wine will pair well with an incredibly wide array of foods; so by all means experiment.
Tizona 2012 Zinfandel ($32)
The Kirschenmann Vineyard is the fruit source for this entirely varietal wine. This is a side label of Bokisch Vineyards. It was aged over 24 months in neutral French oak. Strawberry and red Raspberry jam aromas dominate the nose. Cherry and raspberry flavors are in abundance on the restrained palate which brings to mind old school, Claret style zinfandel. Spice and bramble elements bring up the rear here on a solid finish. This wine shows that the folks at Bokisch do a lovely job with whatever cultivars they set their mind to.