Live music & sensuous wines at Estate Crush
Estate Crush co-owner Bob Colarossi tells us, “the 8th of June falls on our ‘Second Saturday,’ which is when we conduct our monthly Barrel Tasting Tour, which is a full-immersion, ‘Wine 101-type’ of experience – a great way to learn about all the little things involved in winemaking. Then during the evening, we’re featuring live music in our tasting room.”
This Saturday’s tasting room party, taking place at 6-9 PM, will be extra special, as it marks the return of Nic Weethee, a true-blue Lodi native (Lodi High class of 2000) who has been enjoying a successful career in Los Angeles with a break-out band called StarryEYES, and has also been working in the film and television industries (he has done set design for shows like “Castle,” “Criminal Minds,” “Big Band Theory,” and “Two and a Half Men”).
Says Colarossi, “Nic performs unplugged in sort of a kick-back, acoustic style, just Nic + guitar, but his repertoire is huge. He can play anything – from Jim Croce and Cat Stevens to The Fray and Alice in Chains – and he plays it well… super talented!” Weethee returns to Lodi from L.A. on occasion to visit family, which means good times for wine lovers with a penchant for the type of small production, handcrafted wines – many of them custom labels for Lodi wine grape growers – that Estate Crush specializes in.
Estate Crush’s Barrel Tasting Tour takes place Saturday afternoon (June 8) at 1:30 PM ($18/person; contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve); and there is no charge to enjoy 6 PM wine and music party, where at least 18 different wines will be offered by the glass or bottle,
Speaking of which: there are some fantastic new wines just recently bottled by Estate Crush; including these three “best buys” that happen to be perfect for cool summer sipping:
2012 Estate Crush, Lodi Albariño ($18) – This bone-dry white wine has the pedigree: sourced from Bokisch Ranches’ Terra Alta and Vista Luna Vineyards, located in the rocky, rolling hills along the AVA’s eastern rim. In the glass, this Albariño bursts like a spring bouquet of multifaceted fragrances – white flowers, white peach, lemony citrus and lush smells of breakfast plantain – while on the palate, the feel is on the fuller side of medium (13.5% alcohol), the floral and fruit aromas transitioning into minerally, scrubby sensations suggesting lavender laced potpourri. Says Colarossi, “In 2012 the grapes came in at moderate sugars, just over or under 22° Brix, with lots of natural acidity for us to work with, in a super slow, cold fermentation in stainless steel tank.”
2012 Eric Ross, Lodi Struttin’ White Albariño ($25) – This white wine, blended and bottled in collaboration with Eric Ross, a highly regarded Sonoma Valley based vintner, demonstrates all the fun permutations possible in a custom crush facility like Estate Crush: it takes grapes from the same two vineyards farmed by Markus Bokisch that went into the Estate Crush Albariño, but was blended with 5% Muscat Canelli, also grown in Lodi. The result is a much more flowery, almost sensual variant on the varietal theme – think, for example, of how Adele took Bob Dylan’s song, Make You Feel My Love, and transformed the original, scratchy throated version into something just as deep but soaring even higher in raw, wrenching emotion. The nose expresses the varietal citrus and peach, couched in suggestive notes of orange blossom and vanilla; and on the palate, the emphasis is on a markedly tart edged fruitiness, moderate in weight (13.4% alcohol), thoroughly dry in the middle and finish, while cushioned by just a smidgen of residual sugar (.4%) adding to the sense of sensuality, albeit just below a sensory threshold.
2012 Estate Crush, Lodi Rosé ($18) – This bottling has an even more vivid pink pigmentation than Estate Crush’s previous vintages of dry rosé; vinified mostly from whole cluster pressed Syrah, with saignée (i.e. “bleeding” of skin-free juice from red wine vats) of Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. The nose rolls out with a drippy watermelon and cherry qualities, and the feel is completely dry, medium-full and dense, almost toothsome in its fruitiness – think of biting into a fresh cherry, savoring the tangible taste of the skin as much as the wet pulp. This, of course, is the advantage of a dry rosé over a white wine: you enjoy its soft, zesty fruitiness very much like you would a nicely chilled dry white wine, but you also get a slightly denser feel derived from the black skinned grapes from which it is made. So like a white wine, a dry rosé like this tastes great with, say, a summery salad in a winey vinaigrette or a fish charred on a grill; and even better when the salad is tossed with mustard and thin slices of chicken or even beef, or when the grilled fish is a fatty tuna or meaty salmon rather than softer tasting trout or mahi-mahi.
2011 Estate Crush, Lodi Sangiovese ($30) – This red wine was actually bottled last summer (of 2012) while it was young and redolent with pent-up, youthful fruitiness. Since then it has developed something of a regally refined richness – more of a slithery, satiny raspberry, cherry and soft leather complexity, strikingly similar to what you find in first-rate Chianti (the region in Italy where the Sangiovese grape originated) – which explains the phenomenal success it has recently had in the competition circuit: a gold medal as well as “Best of Class” accolades at the 2013 Los Angeles International Wine Competition; a gold medal at the 2013 Sunset International Wine Competiton; and a silver medal handed down by the persnickety judges presiding at the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The grapes came from Ron and Mary Kampling’s Cosi Bella Vineyard, on the east side of Lodi near Acampo, and is farmed by Jon Wetmore (Lodi’s Round Valley Ranches). Says Colarossi, “The Kamplings have been on a mission to prove that Sangiovese is the perfect grape for Lodi, and they’re doing it.” This Sangiovese would also make great summer sipping, with its soft tannin, zesty edge and moderate weight: we suggest coating grilling tuna or a long loin of pork with cracked peppercorns, mustard or coriander seeds; serve with arugula or dandelion greens in a wine and rock salted vinaigrette, and give your summer days that warm, lusty Mediterranean feeling!