Mike Dunne is one of those newspapermen whose unimpeachable creds as a published wine pundit were established roughly in the Stone Age. That is, when The Rolling Stones were still considered a voice of “youth” (who knows what you should call them now).
Mr. Dunne officially “retired” from The Sacramento Bee in 2008 after working for this flagship McClatchy daily as a food editor, restaurant critic and wine columnist for some 30 years. But like the Stones, he just never goes away. Instead, he continues to regularly file his impeccably composed “Dunne on Wine” columns at the Bee, covering every conceivable wine region from Washington and Oregon to Chile and Australia, every nook and cranny of California and much of the “old country” in Europe as well. His interests, and therefore insights and erudite commentary, are decidedly global. Plus, as a professional wine judge, Mr. Dunne’s services are in demand up and down the West Coast, and beyond (for a short time, Dunne also served as head judge for the venerable California State Fair)...Continue »
There are plenty of American wineries founded with the intention of specializing in one grape, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir or Zinfandel. There is a much smaller handful hanging their hats on grapes like Tempranillo, Syrah, Mourvèdre or Grenache. But Petite Sirah? That may take some guts.Continue »
Lodi is known for its heritage Zinfandel and, increasingly, its huge diversity of grapes and wines (over 100 commercially grown varieties, by recent count). Where else in California can you say, for instance, you can find more brands of Albariño and Tempranillo than Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon?
You can also think of the Lodi Viticultural Area’s place in the American wine grape industry in the same way you think of Salinas Valley, which is often called the nation’s “salad bowl.” Salinas Valley doesn’t grow all of the country’s lettuce, spinach and broccoli, but it easily grows more of that than any other single agricultural region...Continue »
There are a few new things afoot at Lodi’s Oak Ridge Winery, which is good news for wine lovers who appreciate a good $10, $12, $16 or $18 wine. And who in their right mind doesn’t appreciate a good $10 to $18 wine? Man does not live by fancy-schmancy $100 wine alone.
While Oak Ridge Winery was founded in 2002, its Lodi ties go back a long ways. The winery sits on the10-acre site of the old East-Side Winery, one of Lodi’s historic old co-ops once operated by as many as over 100 growers at a time, specializing in fortified sweet wines (which was what most of America drank when it came to “wine” up until the late ‘60s). Today, the historic feel of Oak Ridge Winery is reinforced by a visit to the winery’s tasting room, which is housed in a beautiful 50,000-gallon redwood tank that used to be part of the long-defunct Roma Wine Co. facility located across the street...Continue »
There is an old adage in the industry, oft-repeated by the usual pundits: California Zinfandels do not age.
Not that Zinfandels fall completely apart after, say, 10 or 15 years in the bottle. But rather, that they just don’t get any “better,” or more enjoyable, than when they are usually consumed, less than 5 years after their vintage date. The biggest concern is that all those bright, berryish, often “jammy” fruit qualities that Zinfandel drinkers love simply start to fade once the wines get old, and all you have left is, say, the harsh taste of high alcohol (a legitimate fear, since even the lightest commercial Zinfandels of today are at least 15% alcohol) or the drying taste of oak (especially Zinfandels aged in American oak barrels, which are not exactly known for their subtlety).
Ergo: The recommendation given even by most wine producers, that Zinfandel is best drunk when they are young, or pretty much as soon as they hit the market.Continue »