Monday, April 22, 2013

Winey Earth Day Tasting Notes: Lodi Rules with the Lodi Rules Program

Thank you to the folks at the Lodi Winegrape Commission for sending me some Lodi Rules certified wine samples and for educating me about the Lodi Rules certification program!

Isn't it nice when one of your favorite topics of conversation is also committed to sustainable growing and eco-friendly practices? OK, I guess if your favorite topic of conversation is the major league baseball, that might not especially ring true for you. But, since I am a Winey Mom, the idea of a responsible wine industry just warms my heart and makes me feel, oh just a little bit smarmy when I open a bottle of Lodi, California wine.

Lodi Rules logo
Lodi Rules logo
I knew that Lodi, California has been considered one of the best kept secrets in wine for some time now. They've been growing grapes up there for 150 years, but it's only in the past 15 or so that the area has blossomed into a treasure trove of wineries. Right now, there are about 80 wineries in Lodi, and 50 of them offer tastings. What I didn't know was that there is a program in place there called Lodi Rules, which sets down some pretty tough environmentally friendly standards for wineries to bear its logo. There are 7 areas of sustainable wine growing that the winery has to meet (some of which, like air quality management and water management get way too technical and science-y for me to try and discuss with any knowledge). In 2012, over 20,000 acres in Lodi were certified as such, as well as another 6,000 out side of the area. Committed to the environment? I'd say so.

But let's face it, when it comes right down to it, you can be a wonderful environmentalist but it doesn't help you much if the grapes you farm make icky wine. (Icky being a Winey Mom technical term.) The Lodi Winegrape Commission set out to prove that they are rocking the environment as well as the winemaking when they sent me some samples from four of their Lodi Rules Certified Wineries. They also hosted one of the most fun Internet chats I've participated in recently....doesn't hurt to "lol" while you are sipping at the computer. Or anywhere else for that matter, but let's get back on track here. Not only did I get to learn about Lodi and its wines, I got to try some brand spanking new to me varietals.

label of Bokish Winery Albarino wineThe first wine I want to tell you about is from Bokisch Vineyards. It's an Albarino (2012, 12.5%, Lodi, CA) which is a Spanish grape. And not just any Spanish grape - it's the most popular white wine in Spain. And after sipping some, I can say that all those wine drinking Spaniards know their stuff! It starts out with a nose that just full of flavors: some lemon, peach and a bit of strawberry as well as some minerals. The flavor follows right along with that - crisp and alive in your mouth. The minerals make it so vibrant and it finishes off with some of that lemon again. Loved this wine so much! Nothing heavy here - just lots of dancing flavors that reminded me somewhat of a Pinot Grigio, but with a bit more spice to it. Long live Spain! If you can get your hands on an Albarino, give it a sip. Or a hundred.

bottle of Michael David Winery's 2011 CinsaultThe next wine was an Ancient Vine Cinsault (2011, 13.5%, Lodi, CA) from Michael David Winery. And for my first sip of Cinsault, I learned I was sipping on Cinsault royalty. The vines of these grapes were planted in 1885 - one of the world's oldest Cinsault plantings (hence the "Ancient Vine" designation, huh? Michael David is also Lodi's oldest producing vineyard. Lotta big history going on here.). An original rootstock? OK, I was dutifully impressed. And then I tried the wine. And was spectacularly impressed. This is a very pretty garnet colored wine with a nose of cherry. My first reaction was "Yum!" (seriously, I wrote it right in my tasting notes: "Yum!".) I have heard wines described as having a taste of violets, but this was the first time that I've actually tasted it myself. Violet, with some herbs and tart cherries around it. It was silky smooth in the mouth and it had a nice zippy finish to it - full of white pepper and warm on the front of my tongue. It's definitely a lighter bodied red, but with such a vivid taste to it. A great red to bring out for for grilled vegetables.

I have more wines to tell you about that were grown under the Lodi Rules program, but I can only drink so much at one sitting before I, well, let's just say begin to lose my focus. So I will report back to you on them very soon. In the meantime, I was so excited to be introduced to two new varietals that are absolutely wonderful. Light white and light red drinkers take note: find these wines and swirl, sniff, sip as  soon as you can!

I was sent these wines as samples. The opinions expressed  here are all my own.

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