Lodi Native Wine Tasting with BrandLive!

Last night, I joined other bloggers from across the country to participate in a #LodiLive tasting via Twitter and BrandLive.  We tasted through the 6 Lodi Native wines, a new project from 6 different Lodi wineries, and had a Q&A with the winemakers.  The project is a collaborative effort to highlight Old Vine Zinfandel in Lodi while focusing on minimalist winemaking practices.  This means native yeast fermentation, the use of no new oak, no acidification, and no other additives in the winemaking process other than minimal SO2.

Lodi Vineyard
Lodi Vineyard (courtesy of Goff Photography)
Lodi Zinfandel Cluster
Lodi Zinfandel Cluster (courtesy of Randy Caparoso)
Lodi Native Project
Lodi Native Project

 

The tasting was pretty awesome.  I tend to stray away from Zinfandel in general, especially the over-manipulated bottles with off the chart “big” personalities.  But most of these wines were so different from what many wine consumers think of when they consider Zinfandel.  A bit more balanced and elegant with the fruit really shining through (instead of oak or other added flavors).

It was also very interesting to hear the winemakers’ perspectives on the project.  Many of them had never worked with native yeasts or other minimalist techniques and it was noted most will probably implement a more natural style of winemaking into their winery brand.  Most of all, they seemed to have a real passion for showing off the level of Zinfandel that Lodi’s old vines are capable of producing.

Here are a couple of my favorite from the Lodi Native line up:

2012 Fields Family Century Block Vineyard Zinfandel

For me, this was the star of the show and the least stereotypical of Zinfandel.  Notes of earth and red berries with smooth texture and hints of spice.  Elegant and-balanced with healthy acidity.  So delicious! (14% alcohol)

2012 St. Armant Marian’s Vineyard Zinfandel

Another tasty Lodi Zinfandel with an earthiness that comes through both in the nose and the palate.  Lots of spice along with black cherry and a bit of an herbal undertone.  Definitely worth uncorking! (14.5% alcohol).

For more info, visit: Lodi Native

 *Media Samples

 

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Broc Cellars 2012 “Vine Starr” Sonoma County Zinfandel

I started to convince myself that I really did not like Zinfandel.  Every time I uncorked a bottle, the only adjectives that came to mind were big, jammy, fruit bomb, or overpowering (most of the time, all of the above). Thankfully, as with most things in life, there are exceptions to every rule.  This time, the exception comes from Broc Cellars.

Technical Stuff

100% Zinfandel from Sonoma County.  Naturally made with 12.7% alcohol.  Retails for $26.99.

Tasting Notes

Broc Cellars 2012 "Vine Starr" Sonoma County Zinfandel
Broc Cellars 2012 “Vine Starr” Sonoma County Zinfandel

Broc Cellars 2012 “Vine Starr” Zinfandel opens with aromas of black cherry,  earth, and black pepper.  The palate is elegant and vibrant with fresh flavors of dark fruit, anise, black tea, lavender, and spice.  Flavorful, refined, and compelling.  Throw everything your taste buds know about Zinfandel out the window…this stuff is awesome!

Broc Cellars

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Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel BrandLive Tasting!

On Wednesday evening, I had the chance to get together with several other bloggers and taste through three Dry Creek Valley Field Blend Zinfandels on Twitter.  This tasting was particularly cool because the winemakers behind the Zins were simultaneously hosting a live Q&A on BrandLive.  The tasting was super informative as it was awesome to hear the winemakers’ perspectives on their wines and the region in general.  Here are the tasting notes from the Zins we sampled.

A great line up from Dry Creek Valley!
A great line up from Dry Creek Valley!

Tasting Notes

Ridge 2011 Lytton Springs

A blend of 82% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, and 2% Carignane with earthy tastes of black fruit and licorice.  Healthy acidity and quite graceful for a Zinfandel.  The standout of the tasting for me.  (14.4% alcohol, $38)

Dutcher Crossing 2012 Bernier Sibary Vineyard Zinfandel

This wine is composed of 75% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah, 10% Carignane, and 5% Mourvedre.  It had the most pronounced oak influence (yet still not overpowering) as well as tastes of rich, dark fruit and hints of vanilla.  Not my style but easy to see how it would appeal to a lot of wine drinkers. (14.9% alcohol, $43)

Dry Creek Vineyard 2011 Beeson Ranch Zinfandel

Aromas of dark fruit and spice are found in this field blend of 85% Zinfandel and 15% Petite Sirah.  The palate is smooth and balanced with black fruit, licorice, and a lengthy finish.  Nicely done!  (13.5% alcohol, $38)

*Media Samples

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Valentine’s Day Pick from Rock Wall Wine Co.

If you read my blog often, you probably know I am a big proponent of wines that are balanced and graceful.  However, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, I know a lot of people are looking for voluptuous, seductive reds that are generally a little heavier on the alcohol.  I had a chance to taste some wines from Rock Wall Wine Co. over the weekend and they are the epitome of decadence!

Rock Wall is housed in a converted 40,000 square-foot airplane hangar in Alameda which was once part of the Alameda Naval Air Base.  This urban winery produces a few different varietals, including Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc.  If you are looking for one wine to knock the socks (or perhaps other articles of clothing) off of your Valentine, grab a bottle of their 2010 Westphall Ridge Vineyard Rockpile Zinfandel. 

Rockpile

Tasting Notes

Aromas of dark berries and spice are met by a big, luxurious palate.  There are flavors of blackberries, cocoa, sweet tobacco and touches of pepper.  You will also find hints of minerality in every sip.  Rich, decadent and perfect for a romantic meal! ($40, 14.8% alcohol)

My Wine Rating – B+

Food Pairing Suggestions -Pair with a coffee-rubbed filet, seafood stew or rack of lamb. 

*Media Sample

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Trader Joe’s Wine Pick – Cline 2011 Zinfandel

As I was browsing the Trader Joe’s wine aisle last week, I noticed that a new vintage of Cline Zinfandel had hit the shelves.  Cline Zinfandel is pretty much my favorite wine for under $15 at Trader Joe’s so I was anxious to try the 2011 in hopes it would be a delicious as the 2010.

Tasting Notes – This Zinfandel pours a plum color in the glass and has aromas of sweet, dark fruit with a hint of oak.  There are tastes of black cherries, blackberries, and vanilla followed with a peppery finish.  Smooth, spicy, and loaded with rich fruit flavors.  Another excellent value from Cline! (retails for $7.99 at Trader Joe’s in CA)

My Wine Rating – B+

Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with with casual fare such as burgers, pizza, or ribs.

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Trader Joe’s Wine Pick- Peachy Canyon Incredible Red 2010 Zinfandel

It has been a while since I have posted a new pick from Trader Joe’s but, to be honest, the wine I have tried lately hasn’t been too impressive.  Luckily, last week I found a bottle that I think is a good wine if you like a jammier red.  Peachy Canyon Incredible Red 2010 Zinfandel definitely did not disappoint for under $10.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Peachy Canyon Incredible Red 2010 Zinfandel is 100% Zinfandel from Paso Robles.  It has 14.9% alcohol and retails for $8.99 at Trader Joe’s in California. For more information visit www.peachycanyon.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

This Paso Zinfandel pours a ruby color in the glass.  The nose has sweet aromas of toffee and strawberry jam.  At first sip, you taste bright, jammy raspberries cherries, and strawberries.  As the palate develops, there are flavors of chocolate and black pepper.  The spice lingers in the medium-long finish.  Definitely well worth the $9…grab a bottle and give it a try!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair this Zinfandel with burgers, cheese pizza, or steak fajitas.

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Rich and Indulgent- Ottimino 2008 Von Weidlich Vineyard Zinfandel

To round out my tastings of Ottimino’s 2008 releases, I uncorked their Von Weidlich Vineyard Zinfandel. Full of rich and indulgent flavors…yet another incredible Zinfandel from this small, Sonoma Winery.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Ottimino 2008 Von Weidlich Vineyard Zinfandel is 100% Zinfandel from the Russian River Valley.  It has 14.4% alcohol and retails for $36.  Only 340 cases were produced.  To purchase visit www.ottimino.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

This Zinfandel pours a deep ruby in the glass.  The nose has indulgent aromas of caramel, blackberry, and cinnamon.  The wine has a velvety texture with soft tannins and tastes of black cherries, cassis, and sweet oak.  The lingering finish is smooth and peppery.  While this wine is definitely wonderful to drink now, I can imagine in a few years it will be outstanding.  Grab a bottle for now and one for the cellar!

My Wine Rating- A-

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair this Zinfandel with roasted duck, rack of lamb, or eggplant parmesan.

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Rich and Balanced- Ottimino 2008 Rancho Bello Zinfandel

I know I just recently mentioned how much I love Ottimino’s Zinfandel, but if this winery is not on your radar, they really need to be (and you will be hearing about them a little bit more because I have one more incredibly good bottle to talk about!).  Only 280 cases of their 2008 Rancho Bello Zinfandel were produced and I was lucky enough to enjoy a bottle.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Ottimino 2008 Rancho Bello Zinfandel is 100% Zinfandel from the Russian River Valley.  It has 14.5% alcohol and retails for $30.  For more information visit www.ottimino.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Rancho Bello pours a vibrant ruby color in the glass.  The nose has aromas of liquorice, black cherries, and spice.  This wine is smooth, refined, and immediately won over my taste buds with a melody of rich, dark and red fruit, anise, and caramel.  The richness of the wine carries over into the spicy finish.  Another great job by Ottimino…grab a bottle while they last and enjoy!

My Wine Rating- A-

Food Pairing Suggestions- This is a great Zinfandel to bring to a summer barbecue.  Perfect with grilled meats such as burgers, steaks, or lamb.

*Media Sample

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Rich, Smooth, and Perfectly Priced- Ottimino 2008 Zinfinity

Ottimino is a small winery in Sonoma County that exclusively produces Zinfandel.  I have been lucky enough to try the past couple vintages they have released and have become a big fan of their wine.  While most of their wines are in the $30 price range, they have released “Zinfinity”, which retails for $18.50 (and can be found for around $14).  Zinfinity is a blend of grapes from a few of their vineyards and is a great pick if you are looking for a sophisticated Zinfandel that you can afford to drink any day of the week.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Ottimino 2008 Zinfinity is 100% Zinfandel from Sonoma County.  It has 13.9% alcohol and you can purchase it and find more information at www.ottimino.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Zinfinity pours a blackish purple in the glass.  The nose has aromas of jammy blackberries, vanilla, and pepper.  The wine is incredibly rich and smooth.  Tastes of blackberries, plum, and vanilla are followed by a finish with notes of black pepper and raisins.  After tasting the wine again the next day, the flavors intensified and hints of mocha developed.  A very enjoyable Zinfandel that is priced perfectly!

My Wine Rating- B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair this Zinfandel with a duck burger, bison steak, or rack of lamb.

*Media Sample

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A Powerful Zin from Lodi- Macchia 2010 Outrageous Zinfandel

Lodi…it is not on every wine drinker’s radar but it should be because there is a lot of great wine coming out of the region at reasonable prices.  Over the weekend I had a chance to sip a Zinfandel from Macchia Wines, a small winery in the Lodi region.  Their “Outrageous” Old Vine Zinfandel is a powerful Zin that definitely does not lack in personality.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Macchia 2010 Outrageous Zinfandel is 100% Zinfandel from Macchia’s Noma Ranch vineyard.  It has 16.3% alcohol and retails for $24.  For more information visit www.macchiawines.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Outrageous has a rich nose filled with blackberries, oak, and cedar.  The palate is silky with intense flavors of ripe blackberries, raspberries, and black cherries.  There are hints of vanilla and oak woven in between the fruit.  The wine has a spicy finish with a little heat from the alcohol.  The burn from the alcohol was the only aspect of this Zinfandel that I didn’t enjoy.  Even with a little extra heat, this is still a nice, bold Zinfandel that is very fairly priced.  Definitely make sure you give this big boy a few moments in the decanter before enjoying!

My Wine Rating- B-

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair this Zinfandel with sirloin, buffalo burgers, or BBQ ribs. 

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