Showing posts with label single vineyard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label single vineyard. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Livermore Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Wente Vineyards is the country's oldest continuously operated family-owned winery.  It is now run by the family's 4th and 5th-generations.  A French Chardonnay cutting planted in 1912 gave the world a new clone of the grape, which is now used to make 80% of America's Chardonnay.

Today, we are looking at what Wente has done with Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Wente 2018 Livermore Valley Cab is the wine we are tasting on this web page.  It is a single-vineyard Cabernet, from the Charles Wetmore Vineyard.  Wetmore was responsible for bringing many cuttings from Bordeaux to the Livermore Valley.   The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 40% of which were new.  Alcohol tips in at 14% abv and it retails for $35.

This wine is extremely dark in the glass and offers a nose to match.  Blackberry aromas are laced with cedar, vanilla, clove and tobacco.  The palate is dark, too, and rich.  The fruit flavors are in the front while savory notes complement them.  There is a rustic feel, and the tannins are firm.  


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Friday, June 7, 2019

Single-Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc From Calistoga

The grapes for the Shipwrecked Sauvignon Blanc were grown exclusively in Towners Vineyard in Calistoga.  It's one of five wines produced by Lodi's Stonum Vineyards for a Nashville duo known as LoCash.  Band members Preston Brust and Chris Lucas are wine guys, something I would imagine is a rarity in Nashville.  They say "a good bottle of wine is like a good song," likening the aromas and flavors to words and music that create and emotional experience.

The 2015 Shipwrecked Sauvignon Blanc hits a rather high note with alcohol, topping 15% abv.  The wine sells for just under $30.

This Napa Valley (Calistoga) single-vineyard SauvBlanc has a nose which is dominated by fruit, primarily tropical and citrus.  An apricot note shows early, but is overpowered by the ripeness of the California grapes.  On the palate, there's no grassiness, but there is a slightly tart herbal aspect that shows up most notably on the finish.   Acidity is bright and fresh, perfect for seafood and salads.  It's boozy - 15.3% - but it doesn't come off that way.


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Monday, June 11, 2018

Washington Cab Costs $20, Drinks Like $50

Pacific Crest Wine Company is named after the 2600-mile route that crosses some excellent wine regions as it winds its way up the western U.S.  The winery credits the "volcanic and sandy soils along the Columbia River" and the windy conditions which stress the vines for the depth and clarity achieved by winemaker Linda Trotta.

This Washington state wine, the 2015 McNary Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, comes from the Columbia Valley, a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.  Single vineyards are what Pacific Crest is all about.  They say the wine showcases "pure fruit flavors with depth and structure," and they aren't kidding.  Alcohol stays cool-climate reasonable at 13.7% abv and the retail price is $20.  That's a deal and a half, because this wine drinks like it should cost $50 or more.

The elegant 2015 McNary Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is as dark as motor oil in the glass, a misleading look for a very restrained, yet full-throated wine.  Aromas are complex and gorgeous, with a soft, smoky character ushering in deep purple fruit, tobacco, oak, vanilla and graphite.  The palate is as beautiful as it comes, with rich fruit, silky tannins and and a loooooong finish.  It smells so good I didn't want to drink it, and drinks so good I didn't want to stop.


Monday, March 13, 2017

New Zealand Single Vineyard Pinot Noir: Craggy Range

Craggy Range Owner Terry Peabody makes wine from various regions on New Zealand. The Te Muna Vineyard of Martinborough, where these Pinot Noir grapes were grown, is at the southern end of the northern island.  The volcanic and clay soils impart some wonderful things to those grapes, even though the scientists say you can’t taste the ground in the wine. We know different, don’t we?

Warm, dry summers and mild winters in Martinborough make good growing conditions for the region’s top grape. The Te Muna hits a respectably controlled 13.5% abv and retails for $43.

The 2013 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir from Te Muna shows a medium dark tint in the glass while displaying some fairly dark and earthy traits on the nose. Black fruit, cola, tea and coffee all appear, along with a wisp of smoke. The palate is also dark, but accessible. There is an elegance to the wine that beckons, does not stiff arm. There is a rustic element, it's natural in New Zealand’s expression of Pinot Noir.


Friday, January 6, 2017

X Marks The Spot For Syrah

I'm sure you have a particular wine brand, or winemaker, to which you gravitate. You can circle around, spinning through wine space, trying every other planetary grape concoction that orbits close enough so you can grab it. You can make as many landings as you like on other wine label asteroids. You always come back to planet Earth. It's a safe harbor, hospitable, a place where you know there may be surprises but they won't be unpleasant.

Mine is Bonny Doon Vineyards. CEO and "president for life" Randall Grahm earned his "Rhône Ranger" stripes years ago when he gave up on Pinot Noir and went after the grape assortment from the Rhône Valley. If anyone ever made a good move, he did right then and there. His wines are dear to me, they speak to me, they're different every year and I can hardly wait to taste whats next.

The 2012 Bonny Doon Syrah from Bien Nacido Vineyard, Block X, is special. Grahm says it’s "one of the best iterations of Bien Nacido Syrah in recent memory." That's really saying something, too. There was a "substantial percentage" of whole-cluster grapes used and it shows with some herbal, minty notes. It carries a wonderfully respectable alcohol level of 13% abv and retails for $50. Only 313 cases were made.

This dark, brooding wine is savory, savory, savory. It's nose gives off aromas of meat, black olives, black fruit, coffee, herbs and a minty note that's downright wispy. Flavors are dark as well, with maybe a little more fruit coming through than in recent vintages, but still dominated by savory notes of bacon, coffee grounds, black tea and licorice.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Merlot Kicks Off Cornerstone Single-Vineyard Series

Why make a vineyard-specific wine? It’s the dirt. The place where those grapes grow should offer terroir like no other around. Lenn Thompson wrote in the New York Cork Report about single-vineyard wine programs, "and how important it is that they reveal and identify unique place-grape combinations that display consistently." Evan Dawson wrote there, "Single-vineyard wines offer an exciting glimpse into the intricacies of our sense of place, and that's because the people making them have patiently scoured the region for the best locations."

If you regularly enjoy the wines of one particular producer, it may be because you have become comfortable with that producer’s site selection. Cornerstone Cellars is one producer which realized long ago that when a great vineyard site comes along, get it. Then, keep getting it.

"Wine growing is an unending evolutionary process if you want to make great wine," says Cornerstone’s managing partner Craig Camp. "You need to experience a vineyard over a number of harvests and then taste the wine as it develops over the years to really understand its true character."

Camp doesn’t mind waiting out the vineyard as it shows him what it is worth, vintage after vintage. "Only time can show you what a vineyard can deliver then you can decide if it merits the status of a single vineyard bottling," he says. "I've always felt the vineyard should convince me instead of me convincing the vineyard."

For a few years, now, Camp and Cornerstone have been working with a few vineyards in Napa Valley that have earned the "single-vineyard" distinction. One of them is Oakville Station Vineyard in To Kalon. Camp and crew have used Oakville Station fruit enough to know that it is worthy of the vineyard specific designation.

Cornerstone will be using its White Label line to feature wines made from this handful of special sites. "Our White Label will become synonymous with this group of distinctive vineyards," says Camp, "which will be introduced over the releases of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages. Only a few hundred cases will be produced of each wine."

The folks at Cornerstone Cellars believe that there is definitely a sense of place in Napa Valley, just as there is in Bordeaux, Burgundy or the Loire Valley. Camp says the sense of place in the Napa Valley that they seek out year after year is "as compelling as any, anywhere."

The Cornerstone Cellars Oakville Station Merlot 2012 is the first single-vineyard release in this White Label series. The wine is 100% Merlot, hits 14.9% abv and retails for $75.

A very dark wine, the Cornerstone Oakville Station Merlot has aromas and flavors to match. The nose shows black fruit - the blacker, the better - and it is draped in smoke, herbs and spices. Sage and cinnamon join the smokey cover and provide a complex set of smells. The blackberry flavor is huge, with cinnamon, nutmeg, black olives and dusty sage competing for attention. With all that going on, it is still the fruit that dominates.

It’s an amazing Merlot, a beautiful wine. It will fit well in your holiday plans this year, but only 97 cases were made, so don't wait for Santa to bring it.


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Monday, September 14, 2015

Lodi Native Single Vineyard Zin: Marian's Vineyard

This note wraps up the Now And Zin coverage of the virtual wine tasting event which featured the second vintage release of the Lodi Native project. The event is chronicled on the Twitter hashtag feeds at  #LodiLive and #LodiNative.

The Lodi Native project is a collaboration of six winegrowers who aim to highlight Lodi's unique sense of place by focusing on single-vineyard Zinfandel selections from the region. Each wine benefits from native yeast fermentation, zero new oak, and a “hands-off” approach in the vineyards and cellar, allowing the terroir-driven fruit to speak for itself. It's an effort that any Zinfandel purist can appreciate. I was proud and happy to be invited to sample these six great wines..

The Lodi Native Marian’s Vineyard Zinfandel comes to us from St. Amant Winery, with Stuart Spencer creating the wine from the fruit grown by Jerry and Bruce Fry, of Mohr-Fry Ranches.

The social media participants educated us: @Lodi_Wine chirped that "Marian's Vineyard is 8.3 acres of own-rooted vines planted in 1901." @ReverseWineSnob wrote that, "Marian's Vineyard Zin is very aromatic, with wonderful spice and a lovely refined palate." Who could argue? @IsaacJamesBaker tweeted, "Yeah, digging the silkiness of this Marian's Vineyard.," while @Courtneyc_Walsh thought that "Marian's Vineyard = Lodi's Grand Cru."

The medium-dark purple color gives it the look of a Pinot Noir - a dark Pinot Noir, but plenty of light gets through. The '13 version of the Marian's Vineyard Zinfandel has a beautiful nose of violets and cherries. There is a little clove, a little campfire, some cedar and a whiff of cigar. Those pleasantries add complexity, but it's still a fruit-powered nose. The palate is highly expressive, showing a dark flavor profile of wild berries, earth, cinnamon and sage. The mouthfeel is elegant and the tannic structure is smooth. This wine is not for drinking, it's for enjoying, experiencing, feeling.

Pair this one with your Thanksgiving turkey and go easy on the cranberry sauce. There's enough fruit here to sweeten that meat, light or dark. It will be a fine addition to holiday tables - it tastes like the holidays, to me - but if you can't wait, a pork chop or baked chicken will benefit from the richness of these flavors.


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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lodi Native Zinfandel 2013: Wegat Vineyard By Maley Brothers

A recent virtual wine tasting event featured LoCA, the Wines of Lodi and the second vintage release of the Lodi Native project. The event is chronicled on the Twitter hashtag feeds at  #LodiLive and #LodiNative.

Lodi Native is a collaboration of six winegrowers who aim to highlight Lodi's unique sense of place by focusing on single-vineyard Zinfandel selections from the region. Each wine benefits from native yeast fermentation, zero new oak, and a “hands-off” approach in the vineyards and cellar, allowing the terroir-driven fruit to speak for itself. It's an effort that any Zinfandel purist can appreciate.

Here are the six wines tasted and tweeted about during the virtual event:

2013 Lodi Native Stampede Vineyard Zinfandel (Fields Family Wines)
2013 Lodi Native Schmiedt Ranch Zinfandel (Macchia Wines)
2013 Lodi Native Wegat Vineyard Zinfandel (Maley Brothers)
2013 Lodi Native Trulux Vineyard Zinfandel (McCay Cellars)
2013 Lodi Native Marian’s Vineyard Zinfandel (St. Amant Winery)
2013 Lodi Native Soucie Vineyard Zinfandel (m2 Wines)

Last year's inaugural releases were astounding. The bar was set high, and the Lodi Native growers and producers jumped at the chance to match - or exceed - the quality of the 2012 wines. These wines are all available at the respective wineries and at the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center only. I was invited to take part in the virtual tasting event and was provided samples of the wines for that purpose.


Winegrower Todd Maley  took care of the grape-growing, while Chad Joseph handled the winemaking chores. On social media, @BrittanyCurran commented that this vineyard was "passed down through generations, love it." @Lodi_Wine tweeted that "Wegat Vineyard is a 21-acre plot of head-trained vines planted on St. Jorge rootstock in 1958." Tasting notes from @ReverseWineSnob admired the Zinfandel's "cherry, spice, mint and a nice earthy streak." 

The '13 Wegat Vineyard Zin by Maley Brothers is a worthy addition to the Lodi Native lineup. It is colored very dark and smells that way, too. Blackberry and black cherry aromas do a good job of distracting from the subtleties that lie beneath them. Rich, black earth, minerals, smoke and coffee all appear in turn. The palate turns those aromas into tastes, with a plummy blackberry front, and amazingly earthy middle and a juicy finish that lasts forever. It's a big wine, a brawny drink - not elegant. This wine has broad shoulders, blue jeans, a big belt buckle and dust on its boots. Pair it with lamb or game. If you like cooking, use it in a marinara sauce. You will have the best sauce ever.



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Lodi Native Single-Vineyard Zinfandels

A recent virtual wine tasting event featured LoCA, the Wines of Lodi and the second vintage release of the Lodi Native project. The event is chronicled on the Twitter hashtag feeds at  #LodiLive and #LodiNative.

Lodi Native is a collaboration of six winegrowers who are highlighting Lodi's unique sense of place by focusing on single-vineyard Zinfandel selections from the region. Each wine benefits from native yeast fermentation, zero new oak, and a “hands-off” approach in the vineyards and cellar, allowing the terroir-driven fruit to speak for itself. It's an effort that any Zinfandel purist can appreciate.

The six labels involved in the Lodi Native project - McCay, Macchia, Fields Family, Maley Brothers, St. Amant and m2 Wines - are winegrowers as well as winemakers, as are the majority of Lodi’s producers.  Here are the wines tasted and tweeted about during the virtual event:

2013 Lodi Native Stampede Vineyard Zinfandel (Fields Family Wines)
2013 Lodi Native Schmiedt Ranch Zinfandel (Macchia Wines)
2013 Lodi Native Wegat Vineyard Zinfandel (Maley Brothers)
2013 Lodi Native Trulux Vineyard Zinfandel (McCay Cellars)
2013 Lodi Native Marian’s Vineyard Zinfandel (St. Amant Winery)
2013 Lodi Native Soucie Vineyard Zinfandel (m2 Wines)

Last year's inaugural releases were astounding. The bar was set high, and the Lodi Native growers and producers jumped at the chance to match - or exceed - the quality of the 2012 wines. These wines are all available at the respective wineries and at the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center only. Check here for more information on availability. I was invited to take part in the virtual tasting event and was provided samples of the wines for that purpose.

Lodi Native Soucie Vineyard Zinfandel 2013

Layne Montgomery’s m2 wines has recently moved from its industrial park locale into a brand new winery with a tasting room, but they are quick to point out that it's still all about the wine - not the bells and whistles. Fifth generation grower Kevin Soucie presided over these grapes, from the
oldest block of the vineyard. I’m told the soil is very fine silt with the consistency of talcum powder.

The social media banter for the Soucie Vineyard Zin was feeling the tastings by the time we rolled around to it. @Fiery01Red quoted winemaker Montgomery’s quip that "’Food wine’ means ‘this wine sucks unless there's ketchup.’" Montgomery is the Layne, by the way, in the group’s T-shirts which read “The Layne abides.” @MsPullThatCork like his notion that  "Wine will talk to you if you will listen to it." That got him tagged in the lively group as The Wine Whisperer. There was a pairing suggestion from @FrugalWineSnob: “OUTSTANDING. We're pairing this with watermelon!” Well, I think this wine deserves much better than that.

There were some who were paying attention. @Lodi_Wine chipped in with the fact that “Soucie Vineyard is the closest of all the Lodi Native sites to the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta's cooling breezes,” which is said to contribute to the wine’s lush and pungent earthiness. @BrittanyCurran tweeted about the vineyard. “Planted by Soucie’s grandfather in 1916.” Brittany also thought, "It's pretty damn good." And after all, isn't that what really matters?

The wine is extremely dark and smells of smoke, cassis and blueberry, but the blueberry really comes forward on the palate. The powerful fruit flavor display is set off by a dramatic show of spices - nutmeg, sage and vanilla appear in abundance. The vanilla lasts all the way through the very lengthy finish. A brambly component acts as the anchor that keeps all this magic from spinning out of control. There is backbone to spare, too. The tannins are firm and brawny enough for a big ol’ ribeye this thick. The Soucie Vineyard Zinfandel is complex and almost brooding, with a rustic character juxtaposed against its elegance. It will go as well with a checkered tablecloth as it will with fine, white linen.


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Friday, June 26, 2015

Lodi Native Single-Vineyard Zinfandels On Social Media

A recent virtual wine tasting event featured LoCA, the Wines of Lodi and the second vintage release of the Lodi Native project. The event is chronicled on the Twitter hashtag feeds at  #LodiLive and #LodiNative.

In case you are not aware of what Lodi Native is, or what they are doing, please read on. Lodi Native is a collaboration of six winegrowers who aim to highlight Lodi's unique sense of place by focusing on single-vineyard Zinfandel selections from the region. Each wine benefits from native yeast fermentation, zero new oak, and a “hands-off” approach in the vineyards and cellar, allowing the terroir-driven fruit to speak for itself. It's an effort that any Zinfandel purist can appreciate.

The six labels involved in the Lodi Native project - McCay, Macchia, Fields Family, Maley Brothers, St. Amant and m2 Wines - are winegrowers as well as winemakers, as are the majority of Lodi’s producers.

Here are the wines tasted and tweeted about during the virtual event:

  • 2013 Lodi Native Stampede Vineyard Zinfandel (Fields Family Wines)
  • 2013 Lodi Native Schmiedt Ranch Zinfandel (Macchia Wines)
  • 2013 Lodi Native Wegat Vineyard Zinfandel (Maley Brothers)
  • 2013 Lodi Native Trulux Vineyard Zinfandel (McCay Cellars)
  • 2013 Lodi Native Marian’s Vineyard Zinfandel (St. Amant Winery)
  • 2013 Lodi Native Soucie Vineyard Zinfandel (m2 Wines)

Last year's inaugural releases were astounding. The bar was set high, and the Lodi Native growers and producers jumped at the chance to match - or exceed - the quality of the 2012 wines. These wines are all available at the respective wineries and at the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center only. Check here for more information on availability. I was invited to take part in the virtual tasting event and was provided samples of the wines for that purpose.

On social media, @CourtneyC_Walsh remembered "the 2012 #LodiNative wines. Can't wait to see if the 2013's live up to the high reputation!" Would you really expect less? @thisismyhappiness tweeted, "So excited to have the opportunity to taste 6 special Zinfandels of the Lodi Native project tonight!" @MsPullThatCork noted, "no tricks in the cellar in making these #Zinfandel wines, just the vineyards showing off!" @myvinespot thought, "these would all work with bbq - that may be one of the hallmarks of @Lodi_Wine." Quite true. @cliffordbrown3 summed it up nicely: "The Lodi Native project is without a doubt the most exciting project anywhere in the world."

I will cover each of the six Lodi Native 2013 wines separately here in the coming weeks.


The 2013 vintage of Lodi Native's Trulux Vineyard Zinfandel was vinified by McCay Cellars. Michael McCay has proven his ability with the Zinfandel grape many times over, and believes that Lodi is the best place in the world to grow the grape. Bearing the name of the Mokelumne River AVA, this bottling is made from Zinfandel grapes grown on old vines planted in the 1940s, which stand over six feet tall.

On Twitter, @WineUpdate commented on the "Big eucalyptus notes... The finish shimmers." @MsPullThatCork found "intoxicating" aromas on the TruLux, an observation with which I agree wholeheartedly.

Inky dark, the wine has explosive aromas of black and blue berries, smoke and dusty sage and cinnamon. Lively acidity and bright fruit on the palate are matched by that great Zinfandel spice. Excellent tannic structure finishes what is a completely enjoyable wine experience.


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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lodi Cinsault: Michael David Winery

Cinsault, the oh-so-blendable grape, got a moment in the spotlight during a Lodi Wines BrandLive virtual tasting event recently, and it made the most of its time in the spotlight.

The subjects of the soirée were four wines produced from grapes grown in Lodi’s Bechthold Vineyard.  Bechthold is Lodi’s oldest vineyard - planted in 1886 - and the Cinsault vines there are ancient, head-trained monsters - the kind winemakers respond to in the same way a starving man eyes a steak dinner.  Their reactions are basic, monosyllabic and guttural.  “Need! Want!”

Lodi Wine notes that old vines "tend to produce more intense wines because older vines naturally set lower crops."  The lower a vineyard's yield, the more concentrated are the aromas and flavors from those grapes.  "Bechthold’s old vines… continue to thrive while regulating their own fruit production, without a lot of human intervention:  the hallmark of 'old vine' viticulture."

Turley Cellars' Tegan Passalacqua claims, "Bechthold Vineyard defies what a lot of people think of Lodi wines.  It makes a red wine that is not heavy, not high in alcohol, but rather, light and refreshing.  It reminds me of crus Beaujolais in some ways – it has structure, but also high drinkability, and its aromatics are intoxicating, extremely perfumed."


Michael David Winery Ancient Vine Cinsault 2013

Michael and David Phillips have dirt in their blood.  Their family has farmed Lodi since the 1850s, raising grapes for a hundred years.  The brothers oversee the efforts of a family business that has pushed into the sixth generation.  Winemakers Adam Mettler and Derek Devries work with grapes from 650 acres of vineyards.  Vineyard Manager Emiliano Castanon supervises the growing of all those grapes.

The Michael David Ancient Vine Cinsault hits a Lodi-like alcohol level of 14.5% abv, a full percentage point higher than in the 2012 vintage.  Low tannin levels make it smooth, fantastic acidity makes it food friendly.  It's the only vineyard-designated wine in the Michael David line, and it retails for $25.

This very dark wine sports a nose of wild, dark berries and oak spice resulting from twelve months aging in neutral French oak.  On the palate, rich berry and savory notes hit it off just fine together.  The finish lingers, with raspberry and an herbal element remaining long after the sip.  Give this wine time to breathe, and it is as smooth as silk.

On Twitter, @JamesTheWineGuy commented that this wine shows "an amalgam of red flowers, spice, lavender, game & cherry, while @norcalwine gave "Kudos to Michael David for using the 4+ year old French oak. A great choice for the Cinsault."  @dvinewinetime tweeted that "The @MDWinery 2013 Cinsault is inky purple; crisp cranberry & full roundness. Excellent!"
@sperkovich liked the "summer strawberry nose, little cherry, nice mouthfeel, wee bit o spice," and @norcalwine noted that "There's a touch of chocolate in the Michael David too. Tasty wine. Pair with a med-rare burger."  More tasting notes from @martindredmond: "aromatic with hazelnut, kirsch, strawberry, dried rose and spice aromas."


The hour-long BrandLive Twitter-based event from late September threw the Lodi spotlight on Bechthold Vineyard, where the Cinsault grapes are grown for the following wines:

2013 Michael David Winery Ancient Vine Cinsault ($25)
2013 Turley Wine Cellars Cinsault ($17)
2012 Estate Crush Cinsault ($26)
2011 Onesta Cinsault ($29)

@MsPullThatCork noted the stats: "1 vineyard, 3 vintages, 4 winemakers. Gr8 look @ Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault," while @PullThatCork also commented favorably, "Really interesting Cinsault tasting tonight. Glad I could participate. Thanks!"  @dvinewinetime tweeted that, "As a whole, Bechthold Vineyard in Lodi brings us some of the best Cinsault. MUST try."  @norcalwine commented on the "truly lovely set of wines," and @JamesTheWineGuy felt there is "a future for Cinsault; some people are seeking light-medium bodied red wines."  @martindredmond was reminded of, "Pinot Noir or Cru Beaujolais in terms of aroma flavor profile," and @ReverseWineSnob said, "If I had known how good these were I would have saved a couple bottles for Thanksgiving! Hope I can buy more!"  As is customary in these Twitter events, @WineHarlots got in a nice parting shot: "Come for the wines, stay for the Lodi hospitality."


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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.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Lodi Native Zinfandel - A Six-Pack Of Terroir

Lodi is hard at work, 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 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.

The group’s mission statement makes it clear they intend to get the public up to speed on Lodi wine:  “To demonstrate ... that distinguished, distinctly identifiable vineyards exist in Lodi, similar to other great wine regions of the world.  To encourage preservation and appreciation of old vine plantings – well as of Lodi’s long tradition of grower/custodians – by focusing more attention on vineyard sites, vis-à-vis real and tangible sensory expressions in each bottling.  To build professional camaraderie, a culture of information sharing, and new challenges for Lodi’s Zinfandel specialists.

Lodi Native wines are available for purchase in six-bottle cases only, each consisting of all six different single-vineyard bottlings.

Lodi Native recently held a virtual tasting event on Twitter, which you can research at the hashtag #LodiLive or watch in recorded fashion.  Following are the wines discussed and the growers and winemakers who took part.  I’ll be adding my comments on the specifics wines over the coming weeks.

Maley Brothers 2012 Wegat Vineyard Zinfandel - Winemaker, Chad Joseph (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, with fine sandy loam 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.

m2 Wines 2012 Soucie Vineyard Zinfandel - Winemaker, Layne Montgomery (m2 Wines) - Grower, Kevin Soucie
Terroir is the name of the game at m2 Wines.  They promise to create every thing that has terroir, from  “Lodi Zinfandel to classic Napa Cabernet to exciting Rhône wines from the Sierra Foothills, m2 wines are created to fully express the character of the vineyard and the fruit of the vine as wine that is true to itself.”  You can’t ask for more than that.

This Mokelumne River wine shows its terroir from an arm's length away.  Tinted medium dark red, the wine gives off wild aromas of spice and herb in large quantities.  Nutmeg, mint and eucalyptus fragrances wash over the blackberry, raspberry and blueberry fruit.  The palate brings these elements forward even more, and the spices actually ride herd over the fruit.  Black cherry and raspberry flavors take the lead, but are pushed along under the whip of minty spices, sage, cinnamon, cola and tea.  There is a darkness here, too, but not an empty darkness.  It’s a darkness of plenty.  It’s the darkness of a forest of tall trees.  Of the wines I am privileged to taste each year, one always hits me as a Christmas wine.  This is the wine I want over the holidays.

Please do give this wine ample time to breathe.  It opens up amazingly.


McCay Cellars 2012 Trulux Vineyard Zinfandel - Winemaker, Michael McCay (McCay Cellars) - Grower, Keith Watts

St. Amant Winery 2012 Marian’s Vineyard Zinfandel - Winemaker, Stuart Spencer (St. Amant Winery) - Growers, Jerry & Bruce Fry (Mohr-Fry Ranches)
Ticking 14.5% abv, this is a relative lightweight in Lodi Zin Land.  St. Amant's Marian's vineyard entry is tinted ruby red and smells of violets and spices.  Perfume comes to mind.  On the palate, blackberry flavors get a minty treatment and the spice keeps its hand in play.  It would pair well with pork chops, but I had it with a piece of chocolate and it rocked.

Fields Family Winery 2012 Century Block Vineyard Zinfandel - Winemaker, Ryan Sherman (Fields Family Wines)
notes coming

Macchia 2012 Noma Ranch Zinfandel - Winemaker, Tim Holdener (Macchia Wines) -
Grower, Leland Noma
notes coming


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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Virtual Wine Tasting: Lodi Native Zinfandels

Virtual wine tasting is really getting to be a popular pasttime.  Staged by wineries, wine regions or publicity representatives, the events offer wine-loving participants the chance to join like-minded Twitter users, along with winemakers, in a fun, free-for-all forum.

If you are casting about for a virtual tasting event in which to take part, please allow me to suggest the BrandLive event coming up on Tuesday April 22, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. PT.  Staged by LoCA, The Wines of Lodi, CA, and the just-launched Lodi Native project, this virtual tasting event gives you the chance to mingle on the social media platform Twitter with some winemakers from Lodi and some wine lovers from all over.  You can also look in on a video stream.   If you can get one of these Zinfandels, do.  They are available as a six-pack in a commemorative wooden box, through the Lodi Native website.  Even if you can’t put your hands on a bottle,jump in on Twitter and learn a lot about the Lodi AVA.

The Lodi Native Project is a collaboration of six winegrowers - Michael McCay of McCay Cellars, Tim Holdener of Macchia, Ryan Sherman of the Fields Family, Chad Joseph of the Maley Brothers, Stuart Spencer of St. Amant and Layne Montgomery of m2 Wines.  It aims to highlight Lodi's unique sense of place by focusing on single-vineyard Zinfandel selections from the Mokelumne River AVA.  I know, you're salivating already.  Me too.  Each 2012 Lodi Native bottling utilized native yeast fermentation, zero new oak and minimal interference in the vineyards and cellar - so the terroir-driven fruit can speak for itself.

Kira Cooper, of Charles Communications, has provided the details for the event, set for Tuesday April 22, 2014.

Wines (all single-vineyard Zinfandels):
1. 2012 Fields Family 'Century Block Vineyard'
2. 2012 m2 'Soucie Vineyard'
3. 2012 Macchia 'Noma Vineyard'
4. 2012 Maley Brothers 'Wegat Vineyard'
5. 2012 McCay Cellars 'Trulux Vineyard'
6. 2012 St.Amant 'Marian's Vineyard'

Hosts:
Stuart Spencer of the Lodi Winegrape Commission & St. Amant Winery (main host)
Layne Montgomery of m2 Wines
Tim Holdener of Macchia
Michael McCay of McCay Cellars
Todd Maley of Maley Brothers
Chad Joseph of Maley Brothers
Ryan Sherman of Fields Family Wines

Instructions:
"First, sign into your Twitter account and pull up the live stream a little before 5 p.m. PT and get ready to roll!

To access the live stream, please click on the following link: cca.yourbrandlive.com/c/lodinative

Once you click on the link, you’ll see a box on the right hand side that says ‘Questions from the Audience.’ Fill in your name, location and type up your Comment or Question – we’ll be able to view what you say immediately!

Please note Twitter on/off button below the comment field. We encourage you to Tweet your comments and by doing so, you simply have to log into your Twitter account on a separate tab or window. If you do not want a comment or question to show up on your Twitter feed, click the button to “off.”

We welcome you to use the hash tag #LodiLive and Twitter handle @Lodi_Wine during the tasting. We also encourage you to visit http://www.lodiwine.com and http://www.lodinative.com/ to learn more about Lodi and the Lodi Native project prior to the tasting."

So you don't forget, put the virtual tasting event on your calendar for Tuesday April 22nd at 5:00 p.m. Pacific.  We look forward to chatting with you.  To see how the BrandLive tastings have worked in the past, go here.


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