Last summer I went on my first media trip to Lodi California with the fine people from Snooth.com, and sponsored by the Lodi Winegrape Commission. I have been back to Lodi several times since (the town is less than an hour away from my in-laws’ house), visiting familiar wineries and “discovering” others. Without a doubt, I place Lodi near the top of wine growing regions today, particularly when price is factored into the equation.
Quite simply, some of the best values in wine today come out of Lodi.
Thus, when I was asked to participate in a Snooth led online tasting of Lodi wines, I quickly agreed. Shortly after agreeing to participate in the tasting, I was asked to join a press trip to Provence, which would cause me to miss the online Lodi tasting. While I love the wines and people of Lodi, well, it was a trip to the South of France.
Nonetheless, the kind people of Lodi and at Snooth still sent me the wines that were sampled during the online tasting. And I am glad they did, they were fantastic.
2014 LangeTwins Nero d’Avola: Retail $20. I visited Lange Twins back on that media trip where I met a few of the next generation Lange Family including Aaron Lange (fifth generation Lodi grower) who discussed with us the winery’s commitment to sustainability. This wine also shows that Lange Twins is also committed to the diversity of the wines that are produced in the region. Nero d’Avola is the signature red from the island of Sicily in the Mediterranean, but some growers are experimenting with it in areas of California that have a similar climate. Fairly dark, with plenty of black cherry, bright acidity, and a tasty finish. It is amazing how many different varieties can do well in Lodi. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Acquiesce Belle Blanc: Retail $26. Grenache Blanc, Roussanne & Viognier. I also visited Susan Tipton at Acquiesce. We were briefed a bit on the ride over to the winery that Acquiesce was different–Sue only made white wines (and a rosé). Simply stated, Sue Tipton makes some of my favorite wines in the appellation. It is difficult to say, but this wine might be Sue’s best, bright white flower, peach, and a bit of white pepper. On the palate, this is voluptuous: round and fruity initially, with deep flavors and multiple levels. The wine finishes with a wonderful tartness that not only is welcoming to food, it also demands another sip, another glass. Some of the best white wines I have ever had come from the Rhône Valley’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This Belle Blanc certainly gives those a run for the money. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2013 Klinker Brick Farràh Syrah Lodi: Retail $20. I did not visit Klinker Brick during my initial week in Lodi, but I have been there a couple of times subsequently (including a rather memorable night of dancing with Chris Sawyer spinning his music and getting a little footloose with Deborah Parker Wong and Kimberly Noelle Charles) and have sampled through their wines. This Syrah falls into line with their general approach–big. Really big (it seems to be more Petite Sirah, in fact). Fruity and syrupy with rich, baked, just short of stewed, red fruit. Look, this is not my style of wine, clearly. But. I have to say that I really like it–it is a hedonistic wine, but I have to admit to bouts of hedonism (see above reference to dancing like a fool at the winery). It’s a fun wine: juicy, full, big and sometimes that is perfectly fine. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2013 McCay Cellars Grenache Abba Vineyard Grenache Lodi: Retail $36. I have only been to McCay once, on a Friday afternoon with the then Executive Director of the Lodi Wine Grape Commission. I did not meet Mike McCay, owner and winemaker, but I did taste through many of his wines and found them impressive, even stellar. This wine certainly falls into that category. When I poured the wine, immediately noticing it’s relative lightness in color, I was confident that this would be my kind of wine. Gorgeous, earthy, slightly funky black cherry wafts over the rim with a bit of anise and cinnamon. This is one of those wines that I could sit and sniff for close to an hour before ever thinking about sipping it. But I would advise against that approach–this wine is fabulous–sip away. An initial wave of fruit, followed by delectable earthiness, finishing with waves of complexity and a bit of tannic backbone. Whoa. On my next visit to Lodi, I need to seek out Mr. McCay for no other reason than to shake his hand. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.