Friday, August 15, 2014

Lodi Native Zinfandel: McCay Cellars TruLux Vineyard

Lodi is carving out their piece of the California appellation pie.  The area is rooted in family-owned vineyards, with generations upon generations of farmers working the dirt there.  They are getting out the message in every way possible that Lodi is a wine region of note.

The grape variety for which Lodi has become known is Zinfandel, and a new collective of Zinfandel producers - Lodi Native - has been formed.  The six winemakers have banded together to bottle some single-vineyard Zins under their collaborative banner.

Their mission is to accent Lodi’s heritage plantings – many of them dating back to the late 1800s – through sensible viticulture and minimalist winemaking practices.  Native yeast fermentation and use of no new oak help put the focus on Zinfandel’s terroir - on the taste of vineyards rather than varietal character or brand.

Lodi Native wines are available for purchase in six-bottle cases only, each consisting of all six different single-vineyard bottlings.  A while back, Lodi Native held a virtual tasting event on Twitter.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate and received this wine as a sample for review.

The TruLux Vineyard Zinfandel 2012 was made by Michael McCay, of McCay Cellars.  Winegrower Keith Watts watched over the TruLux vines to insure that great fruit was provided.  The back label of this Lodi Native effort describes the Trulux Vineyard as "a west side Mokelumne River AVA vineyard originally planted in the 1940s on St. George rootstock.  It is distinguished by unusually tall, head-trained vines (topping 6 fett) and a clonal selection producing atypically loose, elongated clusters.  This, and loamy sand, yields dark, meaty fruit qualities with earthy complexity."  The grapes of the 2012 vintage were picked in mid-September, a bit early, when sugar levels were moderate.  Alcohol levels in the reds of Lodi tend to run a bit on the high side, so the 14.6% abv number is actually relatively reasonable.

The TruLux Vineyard Zin definitely shows its single-vineyard terroir in a distinctive manner.  The wine looks inky and smells like a bottle of grape perfume.  Aromas of black and blueberry are joined by a sweet scent of pipe tobacco.  Tar scents come forward after the wine has had time to breathe.  The palate is brilliant, with leaping flavors of cassis and the aforementioned dark fruit - very dark fruit, in fact.  The tar that presents itself on the nose also hits the tongue on the second night open.  Cinnamon spice lasts into the finish, which is luxurious.

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