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.
How do you choose the past year's 12 best Lodi-grown wines? You can't. There are now more terrific Lodi wines than you can shake a stick at.
You can, however, choose 12 of the more interesting wines of Lodi. Wines that are making waves for being slightly different than what a Lodi wine lover would have found just, say, five or ten years ago.
To asemble this kind of list, I have to put on my "wine geek" cap. It is, after all, my job as the resident wine investigator to know the individual vineyards, the local growers, the peculiarities of both individual winemakers and the more than 100 grapes grown here in Lodi. I have to know, in other words, where the bodies are buried...Continue »
One of the reasons why the Lodi AVA (i.e., American Viticultural Area) still has a hard time being taken seriously by many of the wine cognoscenti is the region's persistent association with the rest of the Central Valley. It is always amazing, in fact, when you meet Napa or Sonoma-based wine industry professionals who still believe that Lodi grapes are grown in a desert—presumably, just like the rest of the Central Valley.
Yet there is nothing about Lodi that suggests a desert. If anything, everything about Lodi is about water. Lots and lots of water...Continue »
Continued from A definition of wine aromas
When I was a 21-year-old restaurant sommelier (45 years ago) I honed my craft like many others—through constant blind or double-blind tastings. Something I rarely do these days except in occasional professional wine judgings.
Youth will be served, but sometimes it takes an “older guy” to show you the ropes. I have good memories of one named Dave, with whom I especially enjoyed challenges as a 20-something. I would say to Dave, “This Zinfandel has a real fresh berryishness.” He’d look at me with a pained expression and ask, “What do you mean? There are all kinds of berries—there are blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, currants, elderberries, gooseberries, and on and on, and none of them really smell the same.” Of course I’d be stumped, because as a 21 year old who grew up in Hawai`i, I had zero experience with half the berries he was talking about...Continue »
1. Exceptional value, a byproduct of sourcing from the country's largest winegrowing region.
2. Fruit-forward qualities, which are byproducts of the region's steady Mediterranean climate and largely sandy loam soils (at least half of Lodi's grapes grown in alluvium laid down over thousands of years in the Mokelumne River watershed).
"Fruit-forward" gives any wine a huge leg up when it comes to Thanksgiving. Of course, we are talking mostly about the grand old tradition of turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry, buttery mashed potatoes and vegetable casseroles—the gustatory cacophony of foods, enjoyed with cherished family and friends, that we Americans look forward to each year...Continue »
Today, November 17, is National Zinfandel Day.
Every day, of course, is a good day for Zinfandel in Lodi. There are more acres of Zinfandel in the Lodi appellation than in any other region in California, and Lodi crushes over 40% of the state's production each year.
Why Lodi? Because Lodi's Mediterranean climate, with its consistently bright, warm days and cool nights all through the growing season, is naturally conducive to Zinfandel. The grape loves the Lodi sun!Continue »
The term "aroma" is pretty much self-evident: It is the smell of wine derived from grapes.
In an older, snobbier or geekier interpretation, aroma used to be distinguished from "bouquet"—the latter term, meant to distinguish smells in wine that result from bottle maturation. The vast majority of consumers buy a bottle of wine in the afternoon and drink it that night. They could give a hoot about "bouquet."
Therefore, in actual practice, aroma is used to describe any smell originating from grapes used to produce wines. These are smells resulting from the fermentation process, which also evolve after a little bit of time in a bottle...Continue »
Minerality as a trending taste in American wines
Minerality—or the suggestion or outright expression of mineral or earth-related attributes in wine—is an elusive taste, as are all of the more subtle perceptions of wine.
If anything, the use of the term "minerality," bandied about more and more each year, represents a recent shift in consumer tastes, particularly among American wine lovers. When I first visited Germany over 25 years ago, seemingly every German winemaker described their wines as combinations of fruits, flowers and minerals. Minerality was a common expression because the taste of minerals is commonly associated with Rieslings grown in German vineyards; and the Germans love to talk about how each vineyard, especially those grown on the steepest, rockiest riverside slopes, imparts its own variation of a taste suggesting minerals...Continue »
It's hard to believe that as self-evident it may seem to many wine lovers, there are actually many professionals in the wine industry, and even educational institutions, who do not believe terroir exists, or that it is important in the business of wine production or wine appreciation as it exists today.
Let's start with the premise that there is such a thing as terroir, and then afterwards, touch a little upon the perspectives of naysayers...Continue »
As in the past, the 2022 Lodi Tour of Tempranillo will be a no-reservations-required, complimentary drive-around event. This year, 10 Lodi wineries will be opening their doors to offer special tastings, many of them with multi-bottling flights, Spanish inspired food bites and weekend-only-discounts (see some of the details for each winery at the end). All you need do is show up and say, ¡olé!Continue »
"There's something happening here" has been a line copped from the 56-year-old Buffalo Springfield song, For What It's Worth—even the young folks know this tune because of its iconic opening chord progressions of electric and acoustic guitars—by the Lodi Winegrape Commission to bring attention to the "revolutionary" side of the historic Lodi winegrowing region.
The Lodi AVA, to sum it all up, is all about grapes. Lots of grapes. Far more acreage than any other wine region in the U.S.; and on top of that, more variety of grapes than any other region...Continue »