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.
Let's talk about ancient vines. What's the difference between an ancient vine and an old vine? There are no official guidelines for any of those designations. The TTB, which controls the language of American wine labels, is pretty lax when it comes to this. Which is good, because in our country we generally like a little bit of freedom with our commercial products, as long as we're being responsible about it.
If anything, here in Lodi, most vintners and growers go by the Historic Vineyard Society's definition of a "historic vineyard," which is a minimum of 50 years old for at least a third of a vineyard (all old vineyards consist of a good percentage of younger vines, planted to replace the original vines as they die off). This seems like a reasonable definition of "old vine" as well...Continue »
"Don't it always seem to go," goes that favorite old song, "that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."
A couple of weeks ago the Lodi Winegrape Commission launched its Save the Old campaign. Read all about its Mission on savetheold.com. It's all about stimulating consumer, wine trade and media interest in wines made from vineyards originally planted over 50 years ago, in the mid-1960s or earlier. This was period of time was when it was still not unusual, at least in Lodi, to plant grapes as free-standing, untrellised vines, many of them on their own natural rootstocks. In fact, the vast majority of Lodi's old vines are ungrafted, and there are more of these old vines in Lodi than anywhere else in California.
First, some background: The people behind this campaign are the Lodi growers themselves, who back in 1991 formed the Lodi Winegrape Commission to self-fund marketing, grower-education and viticultural research in order to improve the quality of their grapes and, basically, to sell more of them to the rapidly growing wine production industry...Continue »
(courtesy of New Yorker)
Can wine appreciation be funny? You would think not, going by the seriousness of the overwhelming number of wine scribes scratching away on their online blogs or in all the lifestyle magazines or catalogue-like, numerical wine reviews.
But when you think about it, wine should be the funniest thing out there. Especially since wine is a social drink, and it has alcohol. It stimulates conversation, and makes people feel like they're a lot smarter or wittier than they actually are. Theoretically, rife for humor...Continue »
In 1976 U.C. Davis Professor Maynard A. Amerine published WINES: Their Sensory Evaluation with Edward B. Roessler. Amerine was a plant physiologist who had served as the chairman of U.C. Davis's renowned Department of Viticulture and Enology during the 1950s and '60s—a seminal period in the California wine industry—and Roessler was a mathematician who chaired the Department of Mathematics and Physics at the same school.
While long forgotten — especially in today's setting, in which sports journalists, ex-lawyers, MBAs, and practically anyone can become widely followed wine critics, dishing out numerical scores and opinions on wines as if they were handed down from Mount Sinai — for a time, Amerine and Roessler's rigorous approach to wine evaluation had considerable impact on the wine industry...Continue »
To get a true grip of the role Lodi plays in the world of wines, you need to see where the state of California stands in it. According to California Wine Institute's Discover California Wines website, California has a 60% share of the entire U.S. wine market by volume. This means about 3 out of every 5 bottles sold in the U.S. — including all imports — is grown and produced in California. California, which has (according to the Wine Institute) an estimated $114 billion economic impact on the entire country, also accounts for 95% of all American wines exported to other countries.
According to the most recent USDA statistics, the Lodi Viticultural Area crushes approximately 20.5% of all the wine grapes in California. This means just over 12% of all wine sold in the U.S. — again, including imports — is grown in Lodi. Not all the bottles may say "Lodi," since the region supplies most of the grapes going into value-priced bottles sold as "California" wine. Still, Lodi is... kind of a big deal...Continue »
Continued from: Some twenty-first century wine tasting terms, part 1 (nose)
The all-time classic on how-to-taste-wine is Michael Broadbent's Wine Tasting, orginally published in 1968 and perennially republished ever since. It started off, as Mr. Broadbent modestly put it, as a "slim pamplet," and didn't grow that much bigger over the years. But technique-wise, it's all anyone, consumers and professionals alike, would ever need to know about wine tasting..Continue »
A little knowledge goes a long way. It's also said that a little knowledge can be dangerous. I can't agree with that. What's actually dangerous, particularly to yourself, is not enough knowledge.
That's what difficult about contemporary wine tasting. Many of the wines we are often asked to appreciate today do not exactly comport with the usual "how to taste wine" instructions found in books, online pages or videos. It's one thing to learn how to see, smell and taste wine, but it's another thing to understand what you are seeing, smelling and tasting. Maybe even more important: Exactly why you are seeing, smelling and tasting certain things...Continue »
Lodi's LODI RULES certified Linden Hills Vineyard
The 2017 Tizona by Bokisch Vineyards Linden Ridge Vineyards Lodi Malbec ($32) is a lovely wine. What may be even more interesting is its provenance: Linden Ridge Vineyard, located in the "gray area" located in the south-eastern fringes of the Lodi Viticultural Area, in the vicinity of the census-designated agricultural hub of Linden (at last count, population 1,784), directly east of Stockton. As they say about little farming towns like Linden, if you blink as you drive past it on Hwy. 26, you'll miss it...Continue »
Last week Louis Anthony Chico, a sommelier living in Orlando, FL, wrote to us saying he had just experienced a déjà vu. It came upon tasting a 2016 Alquimista Cellars Jessie's Grove Lodi Zinfandel while listening in on a recent Zoom virtual tasting broadcast from Lodi's Jessie's Grove estate, led by Alquimista Cellars winemaker Greg La Follette and Jessie's Grove owner/grower Greg Burns...Continue »
It's not so much what the label on the 2019 19 Crimes Cali Red ($12) says than what it projects: the iconic face of the long celebrated rapper, Snoop Dogg, in muscular black and tan, with slashes of inky red and black marking pen. It practically screams "drink this wine... if you've got the guts."
So I did. The color is a deep, opaque purplish-ruby with a bright red outer rim. The aroma mixes black tea, dried herbs, a touch of tobacco/smoke, and red and black berryish fruits. But while "big" in the nose, on the palate the wine is soft, round, almost cuddly. And it has what many of the wine cognoscente would describe as a "jammy" finish — code words for super-fruity, or slightly sweet. Not super-sweet like a dessert wine, but just sweet enough to cushion the ripe fruit and generous oak sensations, keeping it from completely drying out the mouth with tannin. Like drinking chocolate cake. 14.1% alcohol, which is about par for any commercial California wine (these days many of the state's finest Pinot noirs are higher than that)...Continue »