Tag Archives: Lodi Wine Reviews

Champion Middleweight Wines for Changing Seasons

22 Oct

As the weather cools and the trees turn colors, so do our palates shift to harvest flavors- not only do we seek out pumpkin, apple, and carrot, but meats shift in our meals from leaner proteins to middle weight options like duck, turkey, pork, or monkfish. And our wine preferences move to mid-body wines, from lean and linear to more body, and an expansive palate.

As the days grow shorter, I push back on sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and chenin blanc to grab Bordeaux blends and Rhône varietals such as Grenache blanc, bourbelanc, roussanne, viognier, and clairette. And today’s champion wine is a blend of my favorite four of these: clairette blanche, Grenache blanc, bourbelanc and picpoul blanc. It’s from Acqueisce Winery and is called “Ingenue”. Similarly to very finest of white Bordeaux blends and yet entirely differently; this white Rhône blend is greater than the sum of its parts.

Acquiesce Winery: 2018 Ingénue White Rhône Blend, Mokelumne River AVA, Lodi, California, USA. 13% ABV, SRP $32/bottle.

 

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

The color is pale gold with excellent clarity. The nose offers citrus, baked apple, a hint of greener spice and fresh floral cuttings. On the palate is a beautiful lemon-lime with apple and mature pear, with a savory and round mouthfeel. Dense acidity sings across the palate but the depth and beauty are apparent. This wine can pair in any direction you might wish to go: from fowl to fish to meats, from bright summer vegetables to harvest flavors of pumpkin and squash to root vegetables. I paired this first with a rich asian stir-fry and then with Italian, finishing the bottle much sooner than I’d hoped. Last time I tried this bottle it was goat cheese all in and all out, a perfect pairing with the weather directly post-harvest.

 

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

Next up is a brilliant pinot noir from under-the-radar, one that is ideal for changing weather:

Spáter-Veit Rotwein, 2015 Trocken, Mosel, Germany. 12% ABV; $18/bottle imported by Fass Selections.

 

Color is a clear ruby, while the nose offers earth, cherry, and slate. On the palate, a rich and opulent series of flavors appear quickly and dissipate -potting soil, menthol, scorched earth-  before a tremendous cherry fruit profile begins to dominate the palate.  A robust, medium body with a full and complex mouthfeel, the wine has complexity and depth while showing some linearity and focus. This wine is special- not only reasonable at under $20/bottle, but offering solid winemaking from a small, independent producer at unusually low, nearly grocery store wine prices. This pinot noir has enough complexity and maturity to be able to pair at a higher level- if only I had purchased additional bottles (entirely my fault). I paired this with fish, asian, and southwestern fare but was probably most content when tasting the wine along delicate and medium-weight cheeses. But even as I type this, I simply want to pour another ounce and contemplate the flavor profile as this wanders across my palate.

#WIYG?

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

 

 

 

Old Vine Barbera 2013, Borra Vineyards, Lodi

9 Sep

Borra Vineyards Old Vine Barbera 2013; Mokelumne River, Lodi, CA. 15.2%ABV, MSRP $25, available direct.

 

Color is deep ruby, while the nose offers blackberry, raspberry, red plum, and fresh cut bell pepper. The first sip and my mouth swears this is a wine from the Piedmont region of Italy. No, the label says Lodi, California. Holy smokes!

Soaring acidity matches the red and black fruit up front, a swallow renders my mouth fresh and ready for the next sip but the top and rear palate are still rejoicing in the fruit that is mature, full, and delightfully larger-than-life. A note of heat on the finish along with sand and clay. I’d swear this was a classic northern Italian wine with a decade plus age on it costing $60 or more. Your mouth will agree.

 

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I paired this over a couple of meals with Grandmother Pizza, caprese salad with balsamic reduction, and meatballs- and was in heaven with the pairing each time. Now I need to pick up a case for my friends who prefer Italian wines, for a blind tasting that will make their heads spin!

à vôtre santé!

#WBC16 Lodi Live Wine Blogging: Red, Red Wines!

20 Aug

Q: NOW, What do you know about Lodi wine?
A1: Holy smokes, EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!
A2: It’s NOT all about Zinfandel! (But there is some amazing Zin here!)

Day 2 of #WBC16. Day 1 was so much fun! When we finished Live (White & Rose) Wine Blogging on Thursday, our table concurred: “Let’s sit together again tomorrow!”
Well, when I arrived, not a single soul from Table 11 was back at Table 11. But over a little ways I saw friends waving wildly, holding a seat for me at Table 17! All the gingers in the entire conference sat at ONE table together. (I can say ginger, because I am one. You can’t, unless you are too. Really. Don’t believe me? Ask Tim Minchin- video at the bottom of this post.) Not that everyone else at the table wasn’t absolutely fabulous- they WERE! They ARE! I adore you all! Especially Loie, Anatoli, Jennifer, Jeff, Kirsten, and Bri-  But gingers have a special power… sometimes used for good, sometimes for… evil. Because… well… GINGERS!

So… here’s my side of the table: IMG_0037

That’s me (left), with Michelle (Rockin’ Red Blog), Cathrine (DameWine) and Lori (Dracaena Wines).

With this much red & ginger power, what chance do those ten red wines have?

Here we go, my RED wine speed tasting notes!

 

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The Federalist Lodi Zin 2014 Lovely blend, (a hint of Syrah) nice cinnamon spice, tannins and body. Very well priced at $17.76 street!

 

 

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Windburn’s 2013 Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills Ken Brown, winemaker. Red and Blackberry with nice mineralogy, smooth memories of Burgundy! 

IMG_0040Corner 103’s 2013 Zinfandel: A beautifully feminine Zin, great fruit, manageable acid, tannin & spice. Nice!  

 

 

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Brie Vineyards’ 2012 Old Vine Zin Terrific spice and fruit with chewy mid-palate & great, smooth, sensuous finish. 

 

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2012 Henry’s Blend, a Bordeaux-styled blend, aged in neutral oak. A serious wine that gives France something to worry about!

 

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Peirano Winery’s 2013 Old Vine Zin “The Immortal Zin” Red currants & cherry. Supple without the huge spice some Zins offer. Delicate and pretty, long lasting. Tertiary notes of clay, sand, a smidge of oak,  and… eerily vampiric. Yeah, I went there. Will you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses? You know you want to!  

 

 

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2013  Farrah Syrah- Floral nose. Deep purple w/supple fruit. Spicy anise, some forest floor & lovely mouthfeel. Oh, nice minerality on the long finish-$20

 

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Abundance Wine’s 2013 Lodi Carignane. A great example of dichotomy:  Strawberry fruit that presents in a soft and feminine but rich, savory mouthfeel. Damn. Tasting both the cut and the rose, like the goddess Athena just kicked your ass but you loved it!  

 

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2014 OVZ Zin Big, perfumed, jammy fruit. This wine is #1 in CA Zin sales  at the low price of $11/bottle. Rich, bright, just right! Get some- 

and last, but not least:

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Harney Lane’s 2013 Lizzy James Old Vine Zin Dark cherries, lush flavor w/ rich, supple beauty. Magnificent!

Check out the historic, gnarled trunks and vines that demand hand harvesting, the killer fruit, the loamy sand terroir.

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Ok. I’m not done talking about Harney Lane’s Lizzy James Vineyard Zinfandel. I know Twitter capped my tweet, but that won’t stop me here. This wine is so good, it’s frightening. But I’m not really a fan of Zin. Here’s the deal: I won’t drink a decent zinfandel -there are so many great other choices than any ‘meh’ wine- But I love to drink a terrific zinfandel, and this one is mesmerizing. I’ve had amazing wines from Lodi before- Michael David’s Earthquake comes to mind first, but this wine rocked my world again and again, and I kept going back to it at the end of each day to ask “Was (Lizzie James) really among the best wines I tasted all day?” And the answer was always Yes. This wine is beyond special. Lizzy James is EPIC. Don’t know the flavor of Bramble? Wanted a wine that reminds you of fruit cobbler on the finish? Want something to have your entire dinner table ask you WHAT IS THIS DELICIOUS WINE? Seriously: pick this up, savor it for three days, and you can email me a thank you later. <Mic Drop>

Now, about these tasting notes…you might think I moved these wines around in order, but the order I shared them is actually the order they were presented to our table. While the Lizzy James Zinfandel was the last in our red wine speed tasting, I actually tasted this wine on four separate days at WBC16. It was one of several shining stars of the trip, but not the only great wine from this winery, nor the only great zinfandel from Lodi. But most importantly, over the course of the trip, this wine came to represent all of Lodi for me. Because until you spend some time in Lodi with their wines and winemakers, you might write them off as “zin producers”, just like if you don’t really know wine, you might think that Santa Barbara is “just a pinot producer”, or Napa is “just a cabernet” producer. No, no, no! They are SO much more!

Lodi is a unique AVA in the USA, with mediterranean weather and wind patterns, about 60 miles from the Pacific ocean and with sand-rich, desert soil. The winemakers are as unique as the AVAs, and their passion to grow brilliant and tasty fruit results in stunning wines: Spanish grape clones, Rhône grape clones, French grape clones,  German grape clones, Austrian grape clones! You name it, they are growing it in Lodi.

With as many grapes as they are growing, (over 100 varietals) I tasted many, so very many wines that showed intense flavor, terrific winemaking and amazing quality. Because it all starts with tremendous fruit, and intense passion to make the best wine you can make from the finest fruit you can grow.

And they are doing it here, every day, all over Lodi. So get on it, or miss out and feel like a fool.

à votre santé!

Oh, you thought I forgot about calling me ginger, didn’t you? Well I didn’t.

Check out Tim Minchin’s ode to the word ginger in his opus, “Prejudice”. Enjoy!

 

#WBC16 Lodi Live Wine Blogging: White & Rosé Wines

16 Aug

Q: What do you know about Lodi wine?

A: I knew that I should expect the unexpected.

I was floored at the quality of grapes being grown and the wines being made. Albariño, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Roussane, Picpoul Blanc, Verdelho… need I go on? Ok! Grenache Blanc, Kerner, Dornfelder, Viognier…there is some amazing wine being made here, and it’s time we got to see it on the East coast!

I like many things about the Wine Blogger’s Conference, but my favorite “event” is without a doubt,  Live Wine Blogging. It requires preparation, dedication, focus, and is SUCH an intense event! I couldn’t wait to share my posts, sent during the live tasting via Twitter (please follow me @jvbunbcorked) but here they are, assembled into a fun, convenient package together! Ready for the white and rosé wines from Table 11? GO! 

IMG_0021Corner103’s 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. Sonoma funky nose, grapefruit, kiwi, bright acidity. Fun summer in a bottle!

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Old vine Zin OZV Rosé- orange peel nose, red berry fruit on the palate – a tasty steal under $12

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Peirano Estate Chardonnay ’14. A bold chard: Apple, vanilla, rich buttery oak Retail $14- mom’s fave!

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2001 Lucas Chardonnay Beautifully aged chard, structured and balanced so nicely, w/hint of oak!

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Harney Lane 2015 Albariño: Lodi’s softer side: complex with great acidity, drink me w/ fish or poolside!

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Bookisch Vineyard’s 2015 Albariño Terra Alta Vineyard Gorgeous aromatics, key lime and grapefruit favors OrganicCert

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Lange Twins 2015 Rosé of Sangiovese: Strawberry-orange, drink all day by the beach and pair with shellfish!

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Superbly fun 2015 white barbera from d’Art Wines. White orchid, savory nose, stone fruit+ acidity in the mouth. @$20?Get some!

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Michael David Winery’s 2015 Sauv Blanc that doesn’t taste like grapefruit? This rocks!! Clean guava, pear, kiwi. Superb!

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Trione 2015 NZ style, oaked Sauvignon Blanc w/ stone fruit & rosy, wet slate nose. 13.8ABV, $23

Lodi Winemakers continue to break boundaries and prove that they can grow almost any varietal and make simply stunning wines in this unusual AVA. If reading my live tweets doesn’t get you interested in tasting these wines, then you must be waiting for the RED WINE live tweeting! I promise, you won’t wait long. Cheers from Table 11! 

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à votre santé!

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