Exploring Lodi Wines – German and Austrian Varieties

When most people think Lodi wine, they tend to think of Zinfandel.  While the region is definitely well-known for big, rich Zins, there are so many other varieties being grown in the region.  Over the years, I have come to enjoy Old World-styled Cinsault & Chenin Blanc from Lodi but just had the chance to sip my way through some fantastic German & Austrian varieties from Lodi’s Mokelumne Glen Vineyard via a BrandLive tasting.  Exploring Lodi wines outside of Zinfandel has really shown me the potential the region has for making interesting, balanced wines.  Here are my tasting notes from the event:

The Lodi Lineup
The Lodi Lineup

Holman Cellars 2015 Uncharted Lodi Bacchus

Bacchus…have you ever tried it?  I hadn’t either until this tasting.  Bacchus, a cross between Riesling and Silvaner, is traditionally grown in Germany and tends to have powerful flavors.  Holman Cellars Bacchus spent 3 days on the skin and was fermented in stainless steel.  It has rich tastes of apricots, citrus, and nutmeg with surprisingly vibrant acidity for the grape.  Nice texture and complexity! (14% alcohol, $25)

Markus Wine Co. 2014 Nimmo Lodi White Wine

Markus Wine Co.’s Nimmo is incredibly interesting to drink.  This wine is a blend of 71% Kerner, 13% Gewürztraminer, 11% Riesling, and 5% Bacchus fermented with native yeasts.  Nimmo is fermented in stainless steel and aged for 9 months in 60% new French oak.  The palate is refreshing & bright with tastes of citrus, spice, and minerals.  There is also a unique texture, noticeable oak influence, and bright acid.  An interesting wine that evolves significantly with air. (13.8% alcohol, $22)

Hatton Daniels 2015 Lodi Zweigelt

I drink Zweigelt from Austria somewhat regularly but I never knew the grape existed in Lodi.  Hatton Daniels did a terrific job with this zero-sulfur wine.  Light-bodied with tastes of juicy, red fruit and pepper, this wine is a perfect warm weather sipper.  Serve slightly chilled and be prepared for it to disappear quickly! (11.9% alcohol, $24)

m2 Wines 2014 Belle Étoile Blanche

I love ending a meal with dessert wine and strong cheeses so I was excited to try m2 Wines late-harvest Belle Étoile Blanche.  It is a blend of 35% Reislaner, 25% Weissburgunder, 20% Riesling, and 20% Gewürztraminer aged in stainless steel & neutral oak.  The palate offers ripe tastes of apricot and citrus wrapped in sweet honey.  Crisp, clean, and delightful at the end of a meal! (13.3% alcohol, $24)

*Media Samples

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Exploring Austrian Wine – Zweigelt

This week, I had the chance to attend a wonderful tasting hosted by Austrian Wine, the national service body for the Austrian wine industry.  The tasting focused on red wines of Austria and we were able to taste four flights of four different grapes.  We started the tasting with a grape that immediately grabbed my attention; Zweigelt.  I have had Zweigelt once or twice before but never really had the chance to dig into the nuances and characteristics of the grape.

Austrian Wine tasting hosted by Willi Klinger, Managing Director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, and Patrick Farrell, MW.
Austrian Wine tasting hosted by Willi Klinger, Managing Director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, and Patrick Farrell, MW.

Zweigelt is the most widely planted red grape in Austria and is a crossing of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent.  I found the four Zweigelts we tasted to be fresh, pure, and great values.  Here are my tasting notes:

Getting ready to taste!
Getting ready to taste!

2012 Zantho Zweigelt

This unoaked wine offers tastes of red berries and spice along with balanced acidity.  The wine actually reminds me a bit of a Beaujolais.  Quite simple yet really fresh and enjoyable. (13% alcohol, $15)

2012 Claus Preisinger Zweigelt

Claus Preisinger’s Zweigelt is a bit fuller than the Zantho.  The nose is musty and there are tastes of cherry, plum, brett, and spice.  I would have like a bit more acid but still a very drinkable wine. (13.4% alcohol, $18)

2012 Münzenrieder Classic Zweigelt

The acidity definitely picked back up with the Münzenrieder Classic Zweigelt.  There were also floral notes intertwined with tastes of red berries and spice.  Fresh and a nice value! (13% alcohol, $13)

2012 Glatzer Riedencuvee Zweigelt

This wine opens with a medley of cherry, pomegranate, cinnamon, and floral aromas.  The refreshing palate offers tastes of red fruit and minerals along with a silkier, creamier texture than the other wines in the flight.  The most complex of the four! (13%, $18)

*Hosted tasting

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