For fans of table wine there is a community in Northern California worth knowing about. That community of Lodi lies nearly 100 miles east of the San Francisco Bay adjacent to the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta. Below are six reasons that you may want to attend a Lodi wine tasting, or to try Lodi wines:
If you crave wines that pair especially well with food, try Lodi wines.
If you admire wines with freshness and the associated high acidity, try Lodi wines.
If you want to experience wine styles that may be new to you, or wines made from grapes less commonly found in the marketplace, try Lodi wines.
If you like red wines that are medium to full bodied and have great flavor content, try Lodi wines.
If you enjoy white wines that tend towards a light, crisp and agile style, try Lodi wines.
If you appreciate quality wines, try Lodi wines.
Grapes are not new to Lodi, but evolution has occurred over the years. The first grapes and winery appeared in the Lodi area in the 1850s time frame. But it was not until the beginning of the 20th Century that vineyards and wineries saw a serious increase in the area. By the 1960s Lodi’s focus sharpened to dry table wines using premium varietal wine grapes, while their dessert-style wines diminished and table grapes disappeared. The year 1986 gave a boost to Lodi’s image when the Lodi Appellation (American Viticulture Area) was approved giving wineries the right to label their wines with the grapes’ origin listed as Lodi. Today the number of wineries is nearing the 100-mark, and premium wine grape acreage is closing on 100,000 acres.
I attended Lodi’s Treasure Island Wine Festival on October 8 that was situated in two tents well lighted by natural daylight streaming in. The event was well attended by both fans and vintners. Every now and then the excitement level was increased by the roar of jet fighter aircraft flying low just overhead. The US Navy Blue Angles flying team was performing a fly-by exhibition. Some tasting attendees rushed to the tent exits to admire the fly-overs in awe, then quickly back inside to taste more wine. I think the wine won as the main attraction.
My tasting notes
90, Chardonnay, Watts Winery, Yellow Swallowtail, 2010
A naked wine (no oak) with a refreshingly low alcohol level of only 12%. That is uncommon today and noteworthy in the positive sense. This wine displays a character leaning towards the European style with a firm feel and an acid level giving lift and refreshment. Displays aromas of pear and wet gravel with nicely delineated flavors of green apple, citrus, stones, and thrilling levels of minerality. A balanced, inviting Chardonnay with a lingering finish.
90, Pinot Grigio, Van Ruiten Family Vineyards, 2010
Another lean but inviting European style wine with good presence. Slightly sweet fruit in excellent balance against the generous acidity. The complexity of this supposed simple wine belies the Pinot Grigio grape. Offers flavors of fig, stone fruit, melon, and citrus with a gravely, mineral character all supported by the solid frame of this well structured white. Uncommon and exciting.
89, Viognier, Berghold Vineyard & Winery, 2008
Berghold has put together an uncommon representation of Viognier with enticing aromas of nectarine, peach, ripe stone fruit, anise, and a buttery note in the mouth. The wine is a quite complex and well integrated assembly. Across the palate the touch is light and the texture very smooth.
90, Syrah, Berghold Vineyard & Winery, 2008
An elegantly styled wine with a bouquet of lean but luscious dark berry fruit. Well structured with a smooth tannic backbone and elevated acid level. Notes of black raspberries, spice, stones, and mineral are prevalent in this sleekly textured wine.
90, Graciano, Bokisch Vineyards, Las Cerezas and Terra Alta Vineyards, Lodi, 2009
If you like to identify flavors in wine the complexities in this Graciano could keep you guessing. Aromas of bright red fruit, forest floor, leather, and spice with a vein of acid running through this deep purple, black-tinged wine. Intense flavors of blueberries, dried figs, and grilled meat adding to the umami character. A well structured, full-bodied wine with carefully managed tannins with the acid providing lift and food friendliness. This Rioja clone selection is planted on silty alluvial loam and volcanic clay loam in the Las Cerezas and Terra Alta Vineyards. Bokisch says Graciano is thought to be the oldest grape variety commercially planted in Spain currently, predating Roman arrival on the Iberian Peninsula.
88, Albariño, Bokisch Vineyards, 2009
This white-gold colored Albariño opens with aromas and flavors of pear, yelllow apple, and a nuance of crème-soda. Quite a smoothly textured white with a supple feel. The integration level and harmony in this round and mild style of Albariño are notable.
87, Petit Syrah, McCay Cellars, 2008
Deep purple in color. Notes of dark plum, chocolate, blackberry, and earth open this full-bodied wine. A smooth texture with mild tannins are evident despite the considerable extract and solid structure. Plentiful fruit leads into a long finish.