Letters from Lodi

An insightful and objective look at viticulture and winemaking from the Lodi
Appellation and the growers and vintners behind these crafts. Told from the
perspective of multi-award winning wine journalist, Randy Caparoso.

Randy Caparoso
May 4, 2015 | Randy Caparoso

The 2012 ZinFest Commemorative Zinfandel is an essence of Lodi

2012 ZinFest Commemorative Zinfandel

2012 ZinFest Commemorative Zinfandel

ZinFest 2015: Lodi's Premiere Wine Tasting Event

Each year the Lodi ZinFest produces about a 1,000 bottles of a Commemorative Lodi grown Zinfandel under a colorful Belle Époque inspired art label by our official ZinFest artist, Vince McIndoe, always featuring the same mysterious "red headed girl."

The mysterious red haired ZinFest girl

The mysterious red haired ZinFest girl

This year's special bottling was produced by Michael McCay, whose McCay Cellars Zinfandels, in recent years, have received great critical acclaim for their pure, expressive renderings of Lodi grown fruit. In his book The New California Wine, for instance, Jon Bonné (San Francisco Chronicle's former Wine Editor) described McCay's Zinfandels as such:

If big and brawny is Lodi's hallmark, McCay sprinted in the opposite direction, making Zinfandels that dial back oak and heighten fresh flavor… McCay often describes his efforts as Old World in style; I'd say they are a clear-eyed interpretation of Lodi's great soils… (his) Zinfandels often have an innate freshness… and bright flavors that evoke Lodi's earlier style of the grape.

For these reasons, the McCay-crafted 2012 ZinFest Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel ($35) may be just about the most "Lodi" of Lodi Zinfandels you'll ever experience. Connoisseurs would describe it as terroir driven: pungent with lush, plummy, cherry-bright fruit underscored by earthy nuances suggesting loam, mushrooms, a bit of wild thyme and touches of licorice root. There is also a smidgen of sweet French oak in the picture, but only as a narrow frame that only enhances the wine's prettiness; manifested in round yet zesty, layered flavors that finish dry with firm tannin, the cherry-bright sensations lingering with the loamy earth tones.

Mr. McCay himself tells us, "I wanted to put together a wine that's a little fun for me – something I don't normally do, a little deeper, darker than my normal style. This is not the fruity, sweet style of Zinfandel often associated with Lodi. It's a lot dryer, but nice and layered – something that could be considered an essence of Lodi's Mokelumne River region."

McCay's "normal" style, in fact, is to emphasize the taste of Zinfandels grown in individual vineyards. For the ZinFest bottling, he blended Zinfandel picked from his Trulux Vineyard (about 91%) – which traditionally produces his deepest, earthiest style of Zinfandel – with the more red berry/cherry perfumed fruit of his Lot 13 (100-year-old east side vines) and Jupiter lots (85-year-old plant east side planting). To achieve the tiny bit of a tannin punch tasted in the finish, McCay also blended about 3% Petite Sirah from his home vineyard on Lodi's east side.

ZinFest attendees will be able to taste this special bottling at the McCay Cellars table, and then purchase it at the ZinFest Wine Shoppe on their way out.

Be sure to visit to get your ZinFest tickets now!

McCay Cellars' Michael McCay

McCay Cellars' Michael McCay



Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Daily 10:00am-5:00pm

Lodi Winegrape Commission
2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm

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