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
April 30, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

Michael David’s annual Zinfandel growers tasting reveals east vs. west side distinctions

Michael David Winery hosted their yearly Grower Barrel Flight Tasting for their Zinfandel growers this past April 24 and 25 at the winery’s Bare Ranch facilities.

This annual rite of Spring, organized Kevin Phillips –Michael David’s Vineyard Manager and VP of Operations – is put on to give the winery’s Zinfandel suppliers the opportunity to taste, and evaluate, over 60 of their own single-vineyard wine lots from the previous vintage, while the wines are still in a raw, unblemished state (without the influence of new or extended oak barrel aging).  The tasting is done “blind” – no one knows whose wines are whose – and the top rated 20%, according to scores given out by the growers themselves, are eligible to receive $125/ton bonuses from the winery...

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Randy Caparoso
April 19, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

Watts ups the ante with pure Chardonnays, a classic Zinfandel & adventurous Montepulciano

Quietly, pretty much under the radar, Watts Winery & Vineyards has been growing before our eyes.  From 1999 to 2011, Watts was one of many winemaking tenets in Vino Piazza, near the little Lodi CDP of Lockeford.  At the Watts family’s “new” tasting room/winery on Locust Tree Rd., just south of Victor/Hwy. 12, Watts’ French-born and schooled winemaker, Franck Lambert, proudly showed off his new baby, sure to attract the oohs and ahs:  the 2012 Watts Upstream Lodi Chardonnay ($18).

What’s so special about Watts’ Upstream Chardonnay?  Lots.  It is, to begin with, a more floral scented, sleek and moderately weighted style of Chardonnay – if you’re looking for a ponderous, buttery popcorn/candied apple/pineapple-fruit bomb style of Chardonnay, don’t expect to find it here.  Instead, the Upstream delivers a white flower/violet-like fragrance, nuances of citrus, lemon and minerals, enhanced in the nose and texture by smidgens of fresh cream derived from just partial barrel fermentation.  But the overall feel is on a crisp, clean purity, enhanced by mostly stainless steel fermentation.

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Randy Caparoso
April 16, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

Borra’s amazing Spring releases: the moonshine is the sunshine

It is so ironic:  that many contemporary American winemakers, who by resorting to Old World methodologies, are now considered to be the most daring winemakers of today.  The new style is the old style; or as The Youngbloods once sang, the moonshine is the sunshine, shining twenty minutes later…

Do you have a “contemporary” taste in wine?  If so, you might be stunned by the latest releases from Borra Vineyards.  This may come as a surprise, since Borra is also the oldest bonded winery (in business since 1975!) in Lodi.  But if you have been under the impression that they make stick-in-the-mud, old school  wines, then let us set the record straight:  Borra now produces the most “contemporary” style wines grown in Lodi today, period.  Let’s discuss…

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Randy Caparoso
April 10, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi vintners capture elusive joys of Tempranillo

Are there wines capable of as much inexpressible intensity as those made from the black skinned Tempranillo grape?  Even wine geeks have difficulty putting a finger on exactly what makes a great Tempranillo appealing:  all you know is that it feels great, it tastes great, but more often than not, is very hard to describe.

For instance, the 2010 Bokisch Vineyards Lodi Tempranillo ($21) – which represents this winery’s tenth (and probably their best!) vintage working with this native Spanish grape – is a delicious medium bodied red (meaning, not to heavy, not too light), exuding perfumes of baked berry pies of somewhat indeterminate fill (cherry, blueberry, blackberry?) along with distinct yet fleeting suggestions of red meat (like very rare roast beef).  Oak barrel notes (in the Bokisch, a blend of French and American wood, about 65% new) adds light touches of cigarbox and cocoa-like warmth; and the wine feel round and fleshy in the mouth, with a springy meatiness to the texture...

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Randy Caparoso
April 2, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

Acquiesce Vineyards makes the case for Lodi as the ideal place for WHITE wines

Acquiesce’s Sue Tipton with Picpoul blanc grapes grown in her Acquiesce estate vineyard

Sometimes it’s detrimental – because nobody knows you – but sometimes it pays to be the “one and only” doing something. Talking about the Grand Tasting at the 16 Annual Rhone Rangers Celebration that took place this past March 23rd in San Francisco, Acquiesce Vineyards owner/winemaker Sue Tipton told us, “We had crowds crashing our table when word got out that we were the only ones in the room pouring a Picpoul Blanc. They were loving it, and so were we...”

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Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Thursday - Monday 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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