Showing posts with label Lodi Wines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lodi Wines. Show all posts

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lodi Wines: Outside The Box For Thanksgiving

Pairing wine and food is easy, but many people feel they don’t have adequate skills to select the perfect wine for a holiday feast. It can be as simple as “drink what you like,” or as difficult as you care to make it. Wine is an expansive topic, and it will take up all your extra time if you let research get just a little bit out of control.

For those who don’t have the time - or inclination - to become heavily invested in wine and food pairing minutiae for the holidays, the nice folks at the  Lodi Winegrape Commission put together a virtual tasting experience which examined a few “outside the box” wines for Thanksgiving. The social media event took place on the BrandLive platform, and I was invited to participate.

The tasting session was hosted by Stuart Spencer, owner and winemaker at St. Amant Winery and Program Manager at the Lodi Winegrape Commission, and featured Layne Montgomery, winemaker at m2 Wines,  Susan Tipton, owner and winemaker at Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards and Adam Mettler, general manager/winemaker at Michael David Winery.

The wines tasted were:

Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards Viognier 2014
Michael David Winery Symphony 2014
m2 Wines Alicante Bouschet 2013
Mettler Family Vineyards Petite Sirah 2013

These wines are available from the respective wineries, and also as a set from the Lodi Winegrape Commission’s online store. There is a special price of $80 for all four wines when purchased from LodiWine. The recipes for the pairing suggestions are also available there.

Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards Viognier 2014, paired with Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque

Susan Tipton fell in love a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and from that point on, she was a white wine fan. Her Acquiesce Winery produces only white wines and rosés of the Mokelumne River appellation.  Her wines are all about the grapes - handpicked and whole-cluster pressed - with no influence of oak to alter what nature has given.  The '14 Acquiesce Viognier retails for $23, carries an alcohol number of 13.5% abv and comes bottled under cork. The cuttings from which her vines started are from Tablas Creek, which originated in the vineyards of Château de Beaucastel, in the Rhône Valley. By the way, you may find it hard to throw away or recycle Tipton's pretty, French bottles.

During the virtual tasting event, @MsPullThatCork referenced the soup recipe which was paired with this wine. "We made the bisque," she tweeted. "Great roasted squash, spice, creamy flavors and texture." @Fiery01Red loved the "surprisingly vibrant acidity w/a grape that tends to be low in acidity. Very nice Viognier!" @ThisMyHappiness summed it up with, "Elegant #wine!" Couldn’t agree more.

The Acquiesce ‘14 is one nice Viognier. This is Susan Tipton's calling card. Mellow yellow gold in the glass, the wine gives a beautiful nose of apples and lemons with a floral accent. The palate is as refreshing as you would want a wine to be. Citrus-y apples, a nice savory streak and a strident acidity are a complete joy.

The roasted butternut squash bisque recommended by Lodi Winegrowers is a great match, and so is my wife’s rustic potato, carrot and cabbage soup. Peel and eat shrimp would be fantastic, as would a Cobb salad.

Michael David Winery Symphony 2014, paired with Peach Cobbler and French Vanilla Ice Cream

A true California grape, Symphony was created by UC Davis viticulturist Dr. Harold Olmo. He began the 35-year process of crossing Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris in 1948. The grape was made available commercially in 1981, patented in '83. It registers a low 11% abv on the alcohol scale - Mettler says it is closer to 10% - and carries a retail sticker price of $15.

The '14 Michael David Symphony is frizzante in the glass, showing some fine bubbles around the rim. The golden color looks nice, while the nose gives up some muted apricot and lanolin notes. There is a savory aroma that cuts right down the middle. On the palate, things get kinda sweet, with apples and lemons - but the acidity is fresh and zippy. The finish brings to mind a margarita, go figure. Layne Montgomery quipped during the event that the wine "smells like Thanksgiving in a glass."

You can pair this with spicy dishes - maybe chicken enchiladas or pork in a chipotle sauce. Thai and Chinese food will also serve it well. I would like it with an anchovy Caesar salad. LodiWine likes it with peach cobbler and French vanilla ice cream.

m2 Wines Alicante Bouschet St. Jenise’s Vineyard, 2013, paired with Marinated and Smoked Paprika Grilled Pork Tenderloin

With its roots in France, the Alicante Bouschet grape was widely planted in California in the early 20th century. Winemakers loved the deep pigmentation and used it to add color to wines that appeared too thin. After Prohibition fell, the grape became less popular and it is now a novelty item in just a few California vineyards. Varietal examples that do not limit Alicante Bouschet to the status of a blending grape are pretty rare.

Montgomery explained that "the vines are only six to eight years old, but the wine drinks a lot older." On social media, @camron94 gushed, "Alicante is truly a beautiful and interesting wine that is underutilized as a stand alone varietal." Couldn’t have said it better myself. On the panel, Tipton likened the wine to "a Pinot Noir on steroids." It also reminds her of Sangiovese.

The back label indicates, "this is not a wine for the faint of heart." Robust and meaty, the wine shows only moderate alcohol, 13.7% abv and sells for $26. When asked what he tells his customers to pair with this wine, Montgomery showed his entertainer roots with a fast comeback, "Another bottle!" That’s a pretty good suggestion, too.

The '13 m2 Alicante Bouschet St. Jenise's Vineyard is as dark as dark gets. The inky indigo color does, indeed, look like it means business. On the nose, you get aromas of cassis and a fistful of spice - clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and anise play into the profile. The palate shows monstrous black fruit - blackberry and plum - with plenty of spices getting plenty of play. The spicy character lasts into the finish and stays awhile.

If a rib roast is on your holiday table, this should be, too. It will pair with lamb just as nicely. The Lodi Wine folk say they like it with a smoked paprika pork chop, and now I want some of that.

Mettler Family Vineyards Petite Sirah 2013, paired with Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs on Creamy Yukon Gold Parsnip Potatoes

Back in the 19th century, French botanist François Durif had a home nursery of different grape varieties, including Peloursin and Syrah. Those two vines cross-pollinated, resulting in a grape that was named Durif, which we know today as Petite Sirah. The US government recognizes the two names as synonymous, although the grapes are technically different. In fact, it is noted that the majority of Petite Sirah plantings in California are actually Durif. It was revealed during the tasting session that the Lodi appellation is the number one producer of Petite Sirah in California.

On Twitter, @wineandgoodfood chirped, "The @MettlerWines Petite Sirah is super rich and ripe," while Montgomery threw out another one-liner:  "If purple had a flavor. this would be it." @winebratsf got all eclectic on us: "It tastes like an AC/DC velvet blanket wall hanging." Kudos, by the way, for the descriptor of the evening.

Six generations of Lodi winegrowers can all be proud of this varietal wine. The ‘13 Mettler Petite Sirah shows very dark color and very dark aromas. Black and blue fruit gets help from a savory streak full of leather, tobacco and black olives. That savory feel carries over onto the palate, which is as dark as the color and smells have advertised. This is a beautiful and complex example of Petite Sirah, sometimes fancy, sometimes rustic. It’s an elegant wine masquerading as a roughneck. It hits 15.5% abv and retails for $25.

This wine will pair well with the short ribs suggested, as it will with any type of beef dish. I would love it with a beef stew on a wintry day.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Lodi Wine: Acquiesce Picpoul Blanc

The name Acquiesce means "To surrender, to become quiet." At the winery, they say, "we acquiesce to the grapes,,, and to nature." Acquiesce Vineyards is Lodi's only winery dedicated completely to white wines.

The Acquiesce 2014 Picpoul Blanc is whole-cluster pressed, 100% Picpoul Blanc from the Lodi Mokelumne River AVA. Alcohol hits a very reasonable 12.5% abv. There were only 98 cases made, so don't drag your cursor ordering this one. It is estate grown, produced and bottled and retails for just $24. They only have 100 vines bearing this grape, which are Tablas Creek cuttings from the French Châteauneuf-du-Pape region. The high-acidity grape makes for a very food-friendly wine.

I wondered aloud on Twitter about how much Picpoul Blanc is grown in California.  @Luscious_Lushes replied, "not a lot. But I know Tablas, Twisted Oak and a couple of others that make single variety Picpoul." @Dracaenawines commented, "we are aware of a small vineyard in #pasorobles." @camron94 replied, "There's not much! Only about 42 tons of #PicpoulBlanc crushed last year in #California."

After we got past that, @dvinewinetime said, "OMG the @AcquiesceWine Picpoul Blanc '14 is AMAZING! Like drinking a glass of flowers. Beautiful." On the cheese pairing with the wine. @wineandgoodfood tweeted, "Cypress Grove Midnight Moon is creamy & mild...great pairing with the Picpoul Blanc." @Lodi_Wine said, "@AcquiesceWine is one of the newest members to the #LodiRules program. Let's give her some love!" That was in reference to Susan Tipton, the owner and winemaker at Aquiesce Vineyards.

This pale wine has such great minerality that the sensation of rocks in a stream is impossible to ignore. The aromas of wet stones are met toe to toe by orange peel and lemon zest. On the palate things get just as stony. Citrus flavors - the taste version of "wet rocks," - are in the forefront, the mid-palate and the finish. The acidity is dynamic and makes the wine perfect for food pairing. The Acquiesce website says to pair it with Thai dishes, cilantro, tuna, ceviche and salads. All of those recommendations are good. And sipping by the pool is also highly recommended.

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Monday, December 22, 2014

Lodi Tempranillo: Riaza Wines

Another one of those fun social media get-togethers occurred recently, featuring hosts Stuart Spencer - who wears many hats as the Program Manager at the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Owner and Winemaker of St.Amant Winery, and President of the Board of Directors for TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society) - and Rick Taylor, Owner and Winemaker of Riaza Wines and Director on the Board of Directors for TAPAS.  As you may have already guessed, the topic was Tempranillo.

The gaggle of wine tasters who gathered on Twitter - and the video feed - were ready for some Lodi Tempranillo, and they were not disappointed.   Comments were tweeted from @Lodi_Wine, who told us that "Nearly 25 different Lodi wineries produce a Tempranillo."  They also volunteered that "Nearly 900 tons of Tempranillo came out of Lodi in 2013."  The publicists for the event, @CharlesComm, laid a little history on us: "When it first arrived to CA, #Tempranillo had the name Valdepenas."  I did not know that.  We all learned a bit during the hour.

The virtual tasting event spotlighted Tempranillo wines from four Lodi producers, Bokisch, Riaza, Harney Lane, McCay and m2.  Bokisch appeared earlier.  Today, Riaza.

Riaza Wines Tempranillo 2012  $26

The social media stream was abuzz with good notes on the Riaza Wines Hunter's Oak Vineyard Tempranillo.  @myvinespot tweeted about the "Inviting nose w/ dried cherries, cranberry, warm spice, soft and round in the mouth."  @dvinewinetime liked the "dry, tart cherry w/ hints of tobacco and soft tannins."  @GrapeOccasions commented on the "red fruit & tobacco on the nose, and wow, floral cigar to taste!"  @norcalwine called it "an approachable, tasty wine: cigar box, red cherry, sweet spice, tangerine peel," while @MsPullThatCork asked, "Can you cellar Tempranillo?"  The answer shot right back from @riazawines: "yes, it will get softer, better."  

Riaza Wines is owned and run by Rick and Erin Taylor, a couple who just happen to have a passion for wine and access to lots of grapes.  That nearly always means "Winery," and so, they have held true to the course in Lodi.

Who does what in that partnership? Erin handles the business side of things, while the website says of Rick, "Though the business card says winemaker, Rick’s only real job is not to screw anything up!"  I have a similar arrangement with my wife, and I can attest to how hard that simple sounding task can be.

Tempranillo Day, back in November, resulted in the Riaza Tempranillio 2012 arriving on my doorstep for the purpose of review.  As is my custom, I will just give some information about the wine and let you know how it struck me.

The Taylors love wine made from Spanish grape varieties, and they realized that Lodi's Mediterranean-like climate is perfect for growing them.  They give a nod and a tip of the hat to Liz and Markus Bokisch, who also have an Iberian love affair going on.

Like Bokisch, the Riaza winery focuses on Spanish varieties - Tempranillo, of course - as well as Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo, Monastrell and Verdejo.

Explaining Tempranillo, the Taylors say, "Though a staple in Spain, Tempranillo is only now starting to become recognized as a significant player in California.  Interestingly enough, the grape has been grown here for hundreds of years…coming to the new world with the Spanish missionaries in the late 1700s.  What was once churned out for jug wine up and down the valley, Tempranillo is finally being viewed as something other than the “red-headed step child” of the vineyard."

If this is what jug wine tasted like, bring it back.  Made from 100% Tempranillo grapes grown in the sandy loam of Hunter's Oak Vineyard in Lodi's Clements Hills AVA, this wine was aged for 19 months in American and French oak.  Alcohol hits 14.6% abv, and only 97 cases were produced.

The Riaza Tempranillo colors up medium ruby in the glass, while showing off a delicious nose of blueberry, coffee, cinnamon and clove with a hint of cigar and leather.  In the mouth, a nice acidity and firm tannins are a natural match to the savory dark fruit.  Spices abound - nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon.  There's a sense of black tea, reminiscent of a California Pinot Noir.  The wine comes on rustic, but finishes elegantly.  It's a knockout with spicy pork roast.

The winemaker feels that Tempranillo pairs exceptionally well with anything off the grill, anything with a little char on it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Lodi Cinsault: Estate Crush

If you have more than a casual relationship with wines made from the Cinsault grape, you may already be a grape geek.  On the other purple-stained hand, you may enjoy Cinsault all the time without even knowing it.  It is a grape often blended with other, more famous grapes.  It's a role player in many rosé wines of Provence, it's in the mix of beaucoup Rhône blends and it even stands alone in Lodi, California.

A while back a few wine-loving social media users shook hands with some of the best Cinsault in California.  The topic was the stunningly complex, ancient-vine Cinsault wines from the famous Bechthold Vineyard.  Since Cinsault is a great grape for the holiday table, here is one of the wines featured in that Twitter tasting event.

Lodi custom crush facility Estate Crush helps the general public crush, vinify and bottle the fruit of the vine.  They also reserve a little space for their own interests.  I suppose, if you get a chance to make Cinsault from Bechthold Vineyard fruit, it's perfectly OK to kick out that guy making wine from berries he found growing along the side of the road.

Only 100 cases of the Cinsault were produced, and it's a gem that hits only a modest 13.8% abv on the alcohol scale.  Considering the lofty numbers clocked by many of Lodi's big red wines, this is pretty much like water. It certainly tastes better than water, though.

I was provided with a sample for the purpose of the social media tasting event.  What were some of the folks on Twitter saying about the wine?  I'm so glad you asked.

@Lodi_Wine noted that, "@estatecrush Cinsault was made with minimal intervention 2 showcase the fruit & vineyard."   @sperkovich liked the aromas and flavors: "Lovely rhubarb pie nose, strawberries & lite spiced finishing clean."  A tribute from @norcalwine: "Estate Crush Cinsault dials up intensity, palate weight, but still very balanced. Earth, drying herb," adding later, "I'd be very happy with a bottle of Estate Crush Cinsault & a plate of lamb sausage with couscous."  @CharlesComm brought it all home: "Thanksgiving anyone?"  It'll work well in December, too.

This wine has a medium-light tint and a  nose that displays a serious savory side, which borders on funkiness.  On the palate, flavors of black cherry, raspberry, strawberry and red berries are downplayed by the savory aspect. The acidity level is just about perfect, and the tannins are firm.  An earthy streak runs through it all and lasts well into the finish. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lodi Summer White Wine: Uvaggio Moscato Secco

Virtual wine tasting events are becoming more and more popular, in which Twitter users take to the Twitterverse for an hour or so to taste a selection of wines and comment on them.  A large contingent of Lodites took to their favorite social media platform recently to swirl, sip and spill the beans about the amazing white wines of the Lodi AVA.  The comments put forth by the participants can be found under the hashtag #LodiLive, while full details of the event and the video stream is found here.  The wines were provided to me for review.

Lodi makes about 24% of the wine produced in California.  Various Tweeters commented that a grand total of seventy-five wine grapes are grown in Lodi, and 20-30 of them are white varieties.  The region is the leading producer of Chardonnay,Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc in the Golden State.  Rhone and Spanish varieties are popular favorites of winegrowers in Lodi.  The real purpose of this virtual tasting event was to illustrate that Lodi is more than red wine country. and their mission was accomplished.

The 2012 Uvaggio Moscato Secco is quite a bargain.  It's surprisingly dry, tastes and smells great and only rings up at about $15 on the cash register.  Jim Moore, the proprietor/winemaker of Uvaggio, specializes in Italian varieties.  He owes a debt to the old-world styles, but he is not limited by them.  "We are not attempting to duplicate what Italy has to offer," he says.  "Rather, we are creating our own interpretation, to bridge the best of both worlds."  Uvaggio is a Napa-based outfit, but they utilize only Lodi-grown grapes.

The winery points out that the Moscato Giallo grape variety "is relatively obscure even in Italy and is so uncommon in the U.S. that our government does not yet recognize it as a varietal.  We produce both a dry and a sweet version of Moscato.  The dry version, Secco, is a surprising take on what people might think of as a dessert wine.  However, it will stand up to most meals one might prepare using chicken or pork.  The sweet version, Dolce, is not sticky sweet like some Muscat-based wines, but elicits just the right hint of ripe fruit and honey."

The Secco is made from 100% Moscato Giallo from the Lodi appellation, specifically the Bella Vigna Vineyard.  Grapes were harvested in mid-October, but still at moderate sugar levels.  No malolactic fermentation here, so the acidity is untempered while the alcohol hits only 12.9%.

The Twitter users were vocal about this wine.  @norcalwine tweeted, "Uvaggio Moscato Secco's nose is spicy with notes of mineral, baked ham and an assortment of wildflowers," while @norcalwine messaged "I LOVE the nose. This is not your little sister's Moscato. It's savory AND floral."  @Luscious_Lushes liked the “Intensely aromatic, floral aromas. Secco but not SWEET."  @cellarmistress commented, "That nose speaks to me. Moscato has such a beautiful orange flower nose."  @dvinewinetime liked the "Light fruit of peach, white plums and cantalope! Unique & beautiful,"
while @FrugalWineSnob went for the "Honeysuckle, ginger. Yet another surprise: very dry!"

This dry Moscato does have a very floral nose with beautiful layers of honey, cantaloupe, tropical fruit and a touch of spice.  The aromas are sweet - dessert wine sweet - but the sip spins that notion around 180 degrees.  It's dry and savory, but a trace of sweetness does come in on the finish.  There is a very Riesling-y petrol note on the mid-palate, as well.  Fascinating?  Yes.  Great acidity?  Got it.  Flavor all over the place?  Check.  With Secco chilled, summer doesn't seem so hot anymore.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lodi Native Zinfandel: Maley Brothers Wegat Vineyard 2012

The grape variety on which Lodi hangs its hat 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 the lack of new oak in the aging process help put the focus on Zinfandel’s terroir - on the taste of vineyards rather than varietal character or brand.  Read more about them here.

Lodi Native recently held a virtual tasting event on Twitter, which you can research at the hashtag #LodiLive or watch in recorded fashion.  Here is one of the wines discussed.

Maley Brothers 2012 Wegat Vineyard Zinfandel - Winemaker Chad Joseph, of Maley Brothers; Grower Todd Maley.

A product of the Mokelumne River region of Lodi, this wine carries a big alcohol stick, hitting 14.9% abv.  Wegat Vineyard is a 21-acre planting of head-trained vines, field budded on St George rootstock in 1958.  Its fine, sandy loam is typical of west-side Lodi.

It’s an inky wine, with  blueberry and wild berry on the nose.  Aromas of big fruit and minerals with a hint of anise are almost overpowering.  On the palate, explosive dark fruit and fresh acidity provide a great mouthfeel, while firm tannins add structure.  A slightly herbal angle plays through the enormous fruit for even more complexity, and lingers on the finish.