Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Barbera, From Lodi

Whenever I get to take a trip - virtually - to Lodi, I jump at the chance.  John Fogerty may have been "stuck in Lodi," but he should have visited a winery or two.  That would have brightened his view of the locale.

Oak Farm Vineyards is my stop on this virtual vacation.  I took part in a July conversation with Oak Farm's co-owner and Director of Winemaking, Dan Panella.  The get-together was held on Zoom, where everything else also seems to be held in these pandemic times.

Panella talked about his family's three-generation farming claim at Oak Farm, which in Lodi is practically newcomer status.  He spoke of his fondness for the Italian and Spanish grape varieties found on his estate and reminisced about his younger days driving a tractor through the cherry and walnut orchards.  He turned the business into the wine arena in 2004.

Oak Farm itself was founded in 1860, with the Panella coming along in the 1930s.  Today, Panella and head winemaker Sierra Zieter manage a diverse portfolio of wines.

Oak Farm Vineyards Barbera 2017

Panella conveyed the notion that they really like Barbera grapes at Oak Farm.  In this wine, it shows.  The wine is 88% Barbera with 12% Petite Sirah included "for color and structure."  The grapes were sourced from three green, sustainably farmed vineyards in Lodi.  Oak aging over 20 months occurred in barrels made from the wood of France, the U.S. and the Caucasus region south of Russia, 24% of which was new.  Alcohol hits 15% abv and the retail price was $25, until it sold out.

This Italian grape grows dark in Lodi.  The nose gives off black cherry, blackberry, cigar and cedar.  It is a complex and delightful package of aromas.  The palate is also dominated by dark fruit, with plentiful oak effects.  It is a fresh wine, with lively acidity, and the tannins have a bit of bite just after the cork is removed.  Wait a bit and they settle down.

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