Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel

Old vines are appreciated the most in Zinfandel vineyards.  California's heritage grape has been growing nonstop in Lodi for more than a century, and the older the vines are, the more character the wine has. It's what makes Zinfandel a popular favorite in the Golden State.  Besides, how you gonna keep 'em drinking Merlot once they've had a taste of old vine Zin?

A recent virtual tasting of old vine Zinfandel wines from the Lodi region featured three people who are delightfully nerdy (watch) and incredibly passionate about their Zinfandel.  The online session was held on National Zinfandel Day and led by Stuart Spencer, of St. Amant Winery and the Lodi Winegrape Association.  He was joined by Kyle Lerner of Harney Lane Winery and Kevin Phillips of Michael-David Vineyards.  They focus on Zinfandel with a love not just of the grapes and the wine, but of the character and history of the vineyards and those who planted them so long ago.

The vines for the Fields Family Old Vine Zin are from the 1920s and '40s eras, and are overseen by the Leon Perlegos family in the Stampede Vineyard, Clements Hills AVA.  Winemaker Ryan Sherman says, "We don't shoot for any specific percent level, it is what it is from year-to-year.  Welcome to the prettier side of Zin." 

The wine was aged in neutral oak barrels, unfined and unfiltered, and went through native fermentation under the Lodi protocol.  Only 100 cases were made at 14.3% abv and it sells for $28, a great price for a wine of this quality. 

The 2014 Fields Family Old Vine Zinfandel is a medium-dark wine with a nose that knocks me over.  There’s black fruit, there's tar, there’s savory smoke and licorice.  Quite complex.  The medium mouthfeel carries a lovely acidity and firm tannins.  Flavors of ripe cherry and raspberry jump out in a fruit-forward expression that welcomes more savory notes of leather and cigars later in the sip.  It might be a little light for pairing with the heaviest beef, but I'd love it with a strip steak and fries.

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