Thursday, November 19, 2015
LODI NATIVE - PURITY AND VINEYARD EXPRESSION PUT LODI ON THE MAP
Lodi is known for many things, high quality wine not amongst them. Things are changing, though, as a group of local winemakers inspired by sommelier/writer Randy Caparoso have looked to their cherished old vine Zinfandel vineyards, many over 100 years old, to produce pure, unadulterated wines which showcase the personality of the land and grape plant vs. winemaker style and technique.
This collaborative project, known as Lodi Native, is focusing on old vine, certified sustainable heritage vineyards, many of which are multi-generational family owned sites, including Wegat, Soucie, Trulux, Schmiedt Ranch, Noma Ranch, Century Block and Marian's on the West Side (Mokelumne River AVA) and Stampede on the East Side (Clements Hills AVA). The six founding winemakers, Stuart Spencer of St. Amant, Ryan Sherman of Fields Family Wines, Tim Holdener of Macchia Wines, Micheal McCay of McCay Cellars, Chad Joseph of Maley Brothers, and Layne Montgomery of m2 Wines, agreed to a strict, non-interventionist protocol beginning with native yeast fermentation and the use of no new oak. In other words, pure, unadulterated, exquisitely expressive old vine Zinfandel so full of personality they can never become mainstream wines. This is the discovery of real treasure, Grand Cru American Zinfandel, pure, simple, unadorned, yet rich, complex, layered, and so beautifully balanced they glide across the palate like World Champion Tango dancers.
Upon first sniff, they may not be for everyone. There is something more here than super-ripe, squeaky clean and hyper oaked, and something less. Think of Justin Bieber singing without Auto Tune - he is vulnerable, fragile, real, more human than super human. Though I would compare Lodi Native wines to a seasoned, world class talent such as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, or Nina Simone. I have new found respect.
While each of these wines is unique, as you can tell by our reviews below, they do share similarities. Lodi's West Side Zins. those from vineyards in the Mokelume River AVA, or American Viticultural Area, are deeper, richer, with notes of blackberry, earth, tobacco and herbs, while those from the East Side, Clements Hills AVA, are more perfumed, racy with bright red fruits and not as much intensity of structure. Overall the climate is more Mediterranean than Central Valley as Lodi enjoys breezes off the San Joaquin River Delta. The West Side gets the breezes first. It is also sandwiched between two deep sea ports, to the North and South, and enjoys the insulating influence of these bodies of water.
LODI NATIVE 2013 series reviews here:
LODI NATIVE 2012 series reviews here:
Lodi Native wines are available in a 6-pack wooden case for $180 here: