Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Lodi Wine: The Unique, Unusual, and Unconventional

During our Snooth - Lodi Wine trip there were dozens of wonderful wines that we sampled that could keep us writing for months. But in order to conclude this Lodi Wine series, this post will focus on several wines worth mentioning - emphasizing wines made from unconventional grapes or a unique Lodi heritage.   Note also that most of the information regarding the grape varieties come from wine-searcher.com.


St. Amant Winery 2017 Lodi Barbera ($18)
Barbera is a dark-skinned wine grape variety found in several Italian wine regions, including its native Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Puglia, Campania and even the island regions, Sicily and Sardinia. At the turn of the 21st Century, it was Italy's third most-commonly planted red wine grape, after Sangiovese and Montepulciano. In Lodi, Barbera thrives in its Mediterranean like climate and this wine derives from a 57-year-old vineyard. It's also one I brought home afterward.

Bokisch Vineyards Las Cerezas Vineyard Graciano 2016 ($28)
Graciano is a black-skinned wine grape from northern Spain, grown principally in Navarra and Rioja with the classic Graciano wine is moderately tannic, deeply colored and intensely perfumed, with aromas of mulberry, violets, and chocolate. Bokisch Vineyards is the leading producer of Spanish styled wine in Lodi as founder Markus Bokisch's family history is centered upon Catalonia, Spain. This wine nails the chocolate descriptor and is noted for its long silky smooth finish.

Anaya Vineyards 2016 Clements Hills Nebbiolo
Nebbiolo is the quintessential Piedmontese wine grape – the dominant variety in five of the region's DOCGs and numerous DOCs, the most notable of which are Barolo and Barbaresco. Nebbiolo wines are distinguished by their strong tannins, high acidity, and distinctive scent. Anaya is a new Lodi winery located in the Clements Hills AVA that has been growing grapes for over a decade and is now venturing into producing their own label. Besides the intense tannins and acidity, this wine is very drinkable now but these characters will allow it to age wonderfully.

Fields Family Winery 2011 Tempranillo ($28)
Tempranillo is a red grape variety which forms the backbone of some of the finest wines from Spain and Portugal. Almost every red wine from Rioja and Ribera del Duero has Tempranillo at its core, and in Portugal, the variety is widely used in the Douro Valley – under the name Tinta Roriz – both for table wines and fortified wines (Port). It is a thick-skinned red grape making deeply-colored wines with moderate tannins. The grapes for the Fields Family Tempranillo are from the Estate Vineyard Lot 13 which was planted in 1915 and is the first Tempranillo vineyard planted in Lodi. These vines' roots run deep - sometimes over 25 feet in the sandy loam within the Mokelumne River AVA. This wine explodes in the mouth, like poprocks, juicy, then structured and a pleasant finish.

McCay Cellars 2015 Grenache ($35)
Grenache (Garnacha) is a red-wine grape grown extensively in France, Spain, Australia, and the United States. It is particularly versatile both in the vineyard and the winery, which may explain why it is one of the most widely distributed grapes in the world. I believe the fruit for this wine comes from the Abba Vineyard in the Mokelumne River AVA and it is fresh and clean, fruit forward and excellent with the MSushi Tuna tartare.

Mettler Family Vineyards 2015 GSM ($35)
"A beautiful blend of three Rhone varietals: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre. All three of these varietals trace back to the Mediterranean coast and thrive in the Lodi climate. They blend poetically together, each bringing a different flavor profile. Grenache adds a fresh raspberry flavor. The Syrah brings savory dark fruit flavors and a velvety mouth-feel. Mourvedre adds a nice tannin structure and herbaceous aromas. "

Klinker Brick Winery 2015 Lodi Carignane ($25)
Carignan or Carignane (Cariñena in Spain) is a black-skinned wine grape variety, most likely native to Aragon. The variety is found in wines along the Mediterranean coast, particularly in northeastern Spain and in France's Languedoc-Roussillon region. It is used most commonly for blending with many of the region's other key varieties – most famously Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. The grape prefers warm, dry climates when the grape can express high tannins, acid, and color. The Klinker brick Carignane is produced from a 108-year-old, single vineyard block that winemaker Joseph Smith notes that the gripping tannins accentuate the soft cherry and.earthy aspect of the wine.

LangeTwins Winery 2015 Lodi Montepulciano
Montepulciano is a red wine grape variety grown widely in central Italy, most notably its eastern Abruzzo, Marche, and Molise regions. The grape was named after the Tuscan parish of Montepulciano, but, is not used in the famous wines produced there --Sangiovese is instead. Globally appreciated for their soft flavors, strong color, and gentle tannins, Montepulciano wines are typically best consumed in their youth and with food. In Lodi, LangeTwins specializes in Italian styled wines and this one is fruit forward with enough texture, tannins, and acids to lift the fruit to the finish.

Peltier Winery Schatz Family 2011 Reserve Teroldego ($60) & LangeTwins Winery Single Barrel 2013 The Eighth Vineyard Teroldego. Teroldego is a deeply colored red wine grape grown mostly in the Trentino wine region of northern Italy where it produces deeply pigmented red wines with an intensely fruity character. The wineries have already aged these wines for you so expect a structured wine with more approachable tannins than when younger.

Markus Wine Co. 2016 Zeitlos ($39.00)
This is a Syrah-dominated blend from Borra Vineyards where the Gill Creek Ranch was responsible for 76% Syrah Clone 877 & 4% Viognier and the Church Block 12% Carignane & 8% Petite Sirah. "Petite" here refers to the small, intensely colored berries that make Petite Sirah such a distinctive grape variety. And the high tannins and acidity present in Petite Sirah make it an excellent candidate for aging. This Zeitlos is a luscious wine, structured, strong fruit, and biting tannins.

Mettler Family Vineyards 2016 Pinotage ($24.99)
Pinotage is South Africa's signature grape variety and is a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut -- bred by scientist Abraham Perold in 1925. It is grown almost exclusively in South Africa, making everything from low-quality table wines to rich, concentrated wines with flavors of black and red fruits, spice, leather, and chocolate. This wine is juicy with earthiness and a lush and fresh finish.

PRIE Vineyards 2017 Lodi Mencia ($33)
Mencia is a red-wine grape native to the northwest of Spain. It is most commonly associated with the red wines of Bierzo. Mencia wines tend to exhibit earthy, vegetal characters with berry nuances and stony minerality. The very first California harvest of the grape was at Silvaspoons Vineyard, Lodi and is the source for this wine.

Heritage Oak Winery 2014 Charbono ($28)
Charbono (Bonarda) is a widely traveled red-wine grape variety with a complicated history. Originally from the alpine vineyards of Savoie in eastern France, it is now mostly planted in Napa Valley, where it is known as Charbono, and in Argentina, where it goes by the name Bonarda. The variety's wines are generally medium bodied with high acidity and berry fruit aromas and some smoky characteristics. This Charbono is a lovely representation of the grape.


Oak Farm Vineyards 2017 Estate Fiano ($25)
Fiano is a high-quality, white-wine grape variety used widely in southern Italy, particularly in Campania and the Fiano di Avellino DOCG. Used mainly as a varietal wine, Fiano is nutty and textured with floral and honeyed notes, spice and tropical fruit flavors like pineapple. In Lodi, Fiano was particularly special to the owners (Panella Family) Oak Farm Vineyards because the grape and they originated in the same province in Italy.

Heritage Oak Winery 2018 Chenin Blanc ($18)
Chenin Blanc is a versatile white-wine grape variety that has been cultivated in France for nearly 1300 years. It is most commonly associated with France's Loire Valley, and its high acidity levels mean it can be vinified in a number of different styles: as lusciously sweet, botrytis-affected dessert wines, light, honeyed sparkling wines and as full-bodied, still white wines. The Heritage Oak pairs excellently with the MSushi seared Hawaiian amberjack as the lemon and pear fruit and fresh acids filet into the fish.

Klinker Brick Winery 2018 Lodi - Mokelumne River Grenache Blanc ($18)
Grenache Blanc (Garnacha Blanca in Spain) is the light-skinned mutation of Grenache Noir. Although it is native to northern Spain, Grenache Blanc is best known for its role in southern French white wines and in particular as a member of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend.  Paired with MSushi oysters, the shellfishes' saline character blends with the citrus and light pear flavors of the Grenache Blanc.

Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards Lodi Mokelumne River 2018 Clairette Blanche ($28)
Clairette is a light-colored grape variety that grows throughout southern France. This Acquiesce wine follows the Lodi Rules certification for sustainable winegrowing and the one-acre lot was planted with Tablas Creek (Paso Roble) cuttings from the famous French Château de Beaucastel Winery in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region. This wine is a light, refreshing, and an easy sipper.

Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards Lodi Mokelumne River 2018 Picpoul Blanc ($28)
Picpoul (also known as Piquepoul) is an ancient white-wine grape variety of the traditional and prolific Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France. The name Pique-poul translates literally as "stings the lip", and is a reference to the grape's mouthwateringly high acidity. This Acquiesce wine also follows the Lodi Rules certification for sustainable winegrowing and the 1.3 acres are planted with Tablas Creek cuttings from the famous French Château de Beaucastel Winery in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region. This is one refreshing wine, playful throughout.

Bokisch Vineyards Clay Station Vineyard Verdejo 2018 ($20)
Verdejo is the aromatic grape variety behind the crisp white wines of Rueda in central Spain. Full-bodied Verdejo wines are held in high regard, displaying herbaceous, nutty characters with balanced acidity and some cellaring potential. Once again Bokisch excels with this Spanish wine which features creamy pears and a zesty finish.

Ironstone Vineyards 2017 Obsession Symphony ($14)
Symphony is a Californian crossing of Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris developed in 1948 (but not commercially released until 1982) by the late Harold Olmo, professor of viticulture at the University of California, Davis. As its pedigree suggests, it is an aromatic variety with slightly spicy flavors.  This version is highly aromatic with a fresh and spicy finale.

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