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 2, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

The wine & cheese goddesses’ choices at the ZinFest Wine School

Catherine Fallis MS & Cindy Della Monica share “Secrets of Wine & Cheese Matching”

“ZinFest wine lovers,” says Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, “prepare your taste buds for lift-off!”


In her 4-4:40 PM ZinFest Wine School presentation on Saturday, May 18, 2013, Ms. Fallis – a.k.a. the one and only grape goddess® – is teaming up with Cindy Della Monica, the owner of Lodi Wine Country‘s Cheese Central.  Ms. Della Monica, on her part, is a bonafide cheese goddess – or, shall we say, a walking encyclopedia on all things cheese (in the same way that Fallis is a walking, talking encyclopedia of wine, which is why she also teaches at San Francisco Wine School, and has counseled untold numbers of aspiring wine professionals).

Says Fallis, “After tasting multiple artisanal cheeses with each of the handcrafted, small-lot Lodi wines planned for our Secrets of Wine & Cheese Matching class, Cindy and I came up with an incredible flight owine/cheese flight.”

Their selections need to be tried to be believed – we promise organoleptic fireworks!  But just to get you prepared for it, some remarks on their choices:

2011 St. Jorge, Lodi Verdelho Seco
Cheese match:  Fleur Verte (France)
Ms. Fallis selected this luscious goat’s milk cheese from the South of France because its mild acidity balances uncannily with the lemon/lime acidity of the Verdelho grape; plus the thyme/tarragon/pink peppercorn coating of the cheese (fleur verte translates as “green flower”) adds a flavor that glorifies the sun drenched fruit qualities that make this version of this Portuguese wine grape very “Lodi.”

2012 McCay, Lodi Rosé
Cheese match:  Ossau-Iraty (France)
Michael McCay’s delicately dry rosé is one of the most laboriously crafted in the world:  he takes Carignane (from ancient vines, planted in 1904!) and Grenache, and gently squeezes the juice out from their skins, before transferring them into small stainless steel “barrels” to hold in cold temperatures for about 35 days.  Then the dormant musts are moved to room temperatures, where they begin to ferment – a slow process taking at least another 30 days, since 100% of the fermentation is pushed along on the strength of the grapes’ own natural yeasts (without inoculation of stronger cultured yeasts).  The result is a completely natural, airy fresh pink wine, redolent of rose petals and fresh squeezed Lodi cherries – exquisitely perfect for this creamy smooth, gentle, delicate yet complex sheep’s milk cheese from the Basque country of South-West France.

Stellina, Chiara Lodi Zinfandel

Cheese match:  Beehive Barely Buzzed (Uintah, UT)
Bob and Ali Colarossi’s Stellina planting, along Lucas Rd., makes one of the region’s most delicate, floral/violet styles of Zinfandel – the opposite, in other words, to the big, bruising style of red wine often associated with the varietal.  This refined style also puts an emphasis on both loamy earth and peppery spice qualities that you don’t normally notice in bigger, riper Zinfandels; which is why both Fallis and Della Monica agree that this style of Zinfandel’s greatest possible cheese match is probably Beehive Cheese Co.’s Barely Buzzed:  an amazingly original, Cheddar style cow’s milk cheese rubbed with intoxicatingly smoky Turkish grind coffee, which adds an awesome voluminousness to the crystallized butter, butterscotchy, caramelized taste of this intensely aged cheese.

2012 Sorelle, Sogno Dolce Lodi Muscat Canelli
Cheese match:  Bellwether Farms Pepato (Petaluma, CA)
There is just a touch of peppery, gingersnap spice in this flowery, modestly sweet  silky white wine, which is why the both Della Monica and Fallis find its pairing with Bellwether’s Pepato to be right on the money:  the springy, semi-soft texturing of this raw sheep’s cheese mingles beautifully with the natural grape taste of the Muscat, and the taste of the whole peppercorns rolled into the wheel plays with the spice in the wine like the dancing notes of violins in Beethoven’s Sonata No. 5 (Spring!).

In other words, this is one ZinFest Wine School event you won’t want to miss.  But because it’s not everyday that we get a visit from the grape goddess®, at 2-2:40 PM Ms. Fallis will also conduct a Wine Tasting 101 tasting, which will feature these outstanding Lodi grown wines:

2012 LangeTwins, Lodi Sauvignon Blanc (Musqué)
2011 Harney Lane,  LodiChardonnay
2011 Macchia, Delicious Lodi Barbera
2010 Kidder Family, Lodi Caberah! (Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah)

If you haven’t yet purchased your tickets toLodi ZinFest, taking place Saturday, May 18, 2013 at Lodi Lake Park, please visit the ZinFest Tickets page.



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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