One of the joys of being a Winey blogger is that you get to participate in some extremely interesting wine tastings...all in the comfort of your own home. Thanks to web cameras and Twitter, I get to join with fellow Wineys once or twice a month and taste wines that I might never have thought to try - or that I can't readily find here in Cleveland.
Such was the case last month, as the folks from the Lodi (California) Winegrape Commission (now there's a commission I'd gladly serve on) invited some of us to Lodi Live!, a tasting that featured six hand grown Lodi wines. Easy enough! My wine would arrive on my doorstep and I would sip along with the others as we listened to the Commission gurus talk about Lodi, its wines, and each wine in particular. Of course, being writers, we would be tweeting our thoughts and questions to them as the tasting progressed. (I really do learn an awful lot from these webcasts. They're like a really really fun college class where the final requires you to drink wine.) Easy, right?
Well, it would have been, had not my wines been delayed in transit. Drat. Drat. Drat. What was I to do? Sit and listen and learn without the wine? Well, in a nutshell, that's what I did. And to be honest, it was one of the best tastings I've participated in: great discussion leaders, great tasters and I assume great wine.
In the end, my wine arrived the very next day. And let me tell you, I was looking forward to trying it, based on the comments of the night before. But when? Well, it just so happened that the Winey Hubby and I had one of our very favorite Winey Couples coming over for dinner that weekend. And I had six gorgeous bottles of wine just waiting to be tasted!
I decided to make osso buco (one of my favorites) as the main dish. And, since one of my great joys in life is to eat appetizers until they come out of my ears, I also planned an appetizer spread that included cheeses and crackers and specialty olives and Pinot Grigio summer sausage (really - if you ever see some sausage made with wine, buy some - it's yummy).
But which wines to sip? Well, as luck would have it, as I perused my bottles and their tasting sheets, right there on the d'Art Wines Zinfandel page it read: Perfect with all Italian style dishes from risotto with mushrooms to osso buco. Well, I'm no dummy. One decision down. Then I decided to start the evening and the appetizer fest with the Uvaggio Vermentino, mostly because it was a lighter, crisper white that I thought would go well with my smorgasbord of appetizers, and also because I had never heard of Vermentino until the night before (for the record, it's an Italian grape).
So our guests arrived and after explaining why I was using their palates as basically my guinea pigs for the evening (they got over that one real quick, let me tell you), we opened the Vermentino.
Uvaggio's Vermentino (2011, 12.5%, Lodi, CA) is pale gold in color and a faint nose that gives you wisps of florals and a teeny bit of mineral. Its taste blew away that faint nose though, with tart citrus and juicy lime, some green apple and some lively minerals. It finished with a kiss of tart tingling in our mouths..not one bit of oak here. It was crisp and refreshing. (As I read this I realize that some of you may think this sounds like a Pinot Grigio - but no. It wasn't as sweet as a Pinot Grigio - and had a ton of flavor to it, that some Pinot Grigios can lack.) To say we all loved it (even the Winey Hubby, who, despite my Winey encouragement, sips wine only once in a very long while) would be an understatement. The bottle did not last very long. But the praise did. This wine retails for around $14, making it a wonderful every day sipper.
On to dinner and the osso buco. There is something so very satisfying about chopping up all those veggies that go into this dish..but I digress. Out came the d'Art Zinfandel (2010, 15.5%, Lodi, CA, ~$22). Zinfandel is sort of the flagship wine of Lodi - puts it on the map so to speak, thus I was really looking forward to trying this. The nose on this was cherry and stone fruits, not overly strong, but nicely present. The taste was big and bold though - lots of raspberry and blackberry, a bit of herb-y thyme and some anise. It was very rich in our mouths - not jammy, more like smooth dark fruits. After it had been opened a while you got a hint of mocha on the end. Wow! I was very surprised at the finish - this wine is 15.5% alcohol, mind you. But there wasn't any "burn" to it at all. It was a warm finish, sure, but more elegant than overpowering. Mrs. Winey Friend and I LOVED this one. In fact, we stopped offering it to our hubbies at one point. (In our defense, Winey Hubby doesn't like red wine and Mr. Winey Friend just didn't stand a chance.) During our tasting, we learned that 2010 was a good year for wine in Lodi, depending on when the grapes were harvested. Mother Nature was on her best behavior with this harvest, let me tell you!
So, I didn't get to sip with my on line Winey pals, but I did get the chance to share two bottles of great wine with some in person Winey friends. Worked out well, didn't it? Just goes to show you that a delayed shipment can lead to a wonderful Friday night dinner at home!
I was given these wines for review purposes. The opinions are my own.