Many Lodi wineries started 2017 on a positive note by garnering big awards at prestigious competitions.
The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition early last month included some 7,000 entries from wineries in 28 states. Wineries from the Lodi American Viticultural Area or wineries with fruit from Lodi took home 245 medals, including eight that were awarded Best of Class (for a complete listing of winners, go to http://winejudging.com/medal-winners/):
• 2015 Bokisch Vineyards, Terra-Alta Vineyard, Clements Hills-Lodi Albarino
• 2014 Bokisch Vineyards, Lodi, Tempranillo
• 2013 Jessie’s Grove, Lodi, Ancient Vine Carignane
• 2014 Loma Prieta, Lodi, Petite Sirah
• 2015 Macchia, Mischievous, Lodi Zinfandel
• 2014 Oak Farm, Lodi, Petit Verdot
• 2014 OZV, Lodi, Zinfandel (Oak Ridge)
• 2014 Lodi Zynthesis, Lodi, Zinfandel
Here are highlights on two of the Best of Class winners:
2014 Oak Farm, Lodi, Petit Verdot ($34)
Sourced from the Elk Vineyard in the Borden Ranch American Viticultural Area of Lodi, where the soils just begin to turn red at slight elevation in the Sierra Foothills, Oak Farm owner Dan Panella said he and winemaker Chad Joseph did little to influence the wine and instead let the fruit speak for itself. Panella said Cabernet Sauvignon aficionados would appreciate his Petit Verdot, which is big but approachable.
“Even though it’s big, it’s very pleasant, not overbearing,” Panella said. “It strikes a nice balance of being bold and at the same time, it’s elegant.”
2013 Jessie’s Grove, Lodi, Ancient Vine Carignane (NA)
Fruit from a five-acre, 128-year-old plot and an eight-acre, 117-year-old plot comes into play in this deep and complex wine.
“It’s the age of the vine that makes the difference,” said Jessie Grove’s owner, grower and winemaker Greg Burns, who was a judge at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition. “It has such an antiquity to it. It creates some uniqueness in the flavor profile with that age. Ancient vine carries an intrinsic value of depth and complexity.”
At the 10th annual American Fine Wine Competition last month in Dade County, Florida, only 800 wines from around the country were entered. Why? The AFWC is invitation-only. Its organizers combed Lodi last September looking for wines worthy of being entered. It’s a tough cut and Lodi more than held its own.
Just more than half of the entrants, 461, received Best of Show, Best of Class, Double Gold, Gold or Gold medal honors. Of those, 18 came from Lodi, a good haul considering only about 2 percent of the total entries were from Lodi.
Lodi’s lone Best of Class winner was the 2014 Oak Farm, Lodi, Grenache. Double Gold recognition went to the 2013 Bokisch, Terra Alta Vineyard Clements Hills, Lodi, Garnacha.
Gold medals went to three Lodi zinfandels: the 2014 Earthquake by Michael David Winery, the 2013 Klinker Brick Marisa Vineyard and the 2013 Lust by Michael David.
In the crowded Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon categories, the 2015 Harney Lane Winery emerged with Gold, as did with 2014 Michael David Chardonnay. Both wines retail for $25 and $16, respectively, a mere pittance compared to entries from Napa and Sonoma. Michael David’s 2014 Lodi Cabernet Franc ($35) earned Double Gold against heavy hitters from Napa and Sonoma whose wines cost more than twice as much.
Overall, Lodi’s producers have much to be proud of, as their wines continue to garner recognition in some of the most respected competitions in the nation.
Wine & Chocolate Weekend
The Lodi Wine & Chocolate Weekend is celebrating its 20th year with a nod to the Roaring 20s.
Some 50 wineries in the Lodi AVA are taking part Saturday and Sunday. Many wineries will offer special wine tastings, chocolate treats, as well as small bites and live music.
This year, participants are encouraged to dress in outfits from the days of speakeasies, Prohibition and Al Capone. Organizers are sponsoring a costume contest on Instagram with one lucky winner taking home a prize package.
Tickets are $55 in advance and $65 the days of the event. Wine club members can receive a $10 discount through their winery. Tickets are good both days. Designated drivers are free. Information: LodiWineandChocolate.com.
– Lodi Wine Commission writer and blogger Randy Caparoso contributed to this story