Archive for January, 2011

The vinous labors of Chad Joseph

January 24th, 2011
The vinous labors of Chad Joseph

Lodi’s busiest consulting winemaker started off big, ended up small, and is lovin’ it… “You know what it’s like working with a million gallon tank?” asks Chad Joseph, talking about his first job as a winemaker, at E.&J. Gallo in Modesto.  “You can’t even throw a football all the way across it.” E.&J. Gallo, of course, doesn’t just employ winemakers.  They employ entire armies of winemakers.  In the late nineties Mr. Joseph worked his way up the ranks of teams responsible for brands like Carlo Rossi, Livingston Cellars, Turning Leaf, and Gallo Sonoma; in the end, gaining valuable experience working.. VIEW MORE »

Food wine or not, Barbera kicks butt

January 22nd, 2011
Food wine or not, Barbera kicks butt

In Northern Italy, the Barbera grape produces reds many consider to be the ultimate “food wines.”  Sometimes this moniker is code for thin-and-boring-when-drunk-by-itself, but not in this case:  anyone who has experienced top drawer Barbera from the Piemonte region knows what a dense, viscerally moving experience it can be.  These are soulful, blood red wines usually stuffed with aromas and flavors of red (raspberry, cherry, cranberry) and/or black fruits (like blackberry without the jamminess of, say, Zinfandel), with handsome tertiary qualities suggesting charred red meat and/or soft, expensive Italian leather. It is the taste of Barbera on the palate, however,.. VIEW MORE »

The zin master’s long, dark night

January 21st, 2011
The zin master’s long, dark night

m2′s Layne Montgomery knows the agony of ecstasy… Winemakers, we are sure you’ve been told, are half scientists/half artists.  Not true.  At least a quarter of every winemaker also needs to be a philosopher:  as much as the profession requires a belief system of some degree of mental, or spiritual, stability.  How else do you survive the stress of each vintage, when your fate is put into the hands of something completely out of your control:  the forces of nature, the weather gods, Lance Randolph’s red shorts, or… whatever. Then, presuming most of your grapes come into the winery reasonably.. VIEW MORE »

Lodi’s uncommonly dark, intense Inkblots

January 19th, 2011
Lodi’s uncommonly dark, intense Inkblots

If there’s one thing Lodi does very, very well, it’s red wines made from “alternative” grapes that are also extraordinarily rich, concentrated, and unique.  Red wines that appeal to jaded palates looking for things other than the usual Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.  Wines that fulfill deep seated longings for ultra-dark and thick red wine sensations, but not made from Syrah or Petite Sirah either. This is what Michael~David Winery’s Inkblot program is all about.  First, the name says it all:  these are wines selected because they are so black, purplish, and wonderful that you not only want to write.. VIEW MORE »

Lodi reaps more Chronicle gold than ever

January 13th, 2011
Lodi reaps more Chronicle gold than ever

Earlier this month, 66 highly discriminating wine professionals and distinguished members of the wine media met to judge a staggering 5,050 wines as part of the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.  Although this is an annual judging of American wines, the vast majority of the Chronicle’s entries each year come from California, each vying to “out-competition” the other. Individual wines made from Lodi grown grapes earned 2 Best of Class distinctions (the absolute highest rated wines of their categories, notwithstanding price), 2 Double Gold medals (meaning, the entire group of judges, with no naysayers, voted to award a gold.. VIEW MORE »