I had lunch last week with some of the top cats from California’s Lodi region, set between Sacramento and Stockton (though a few miles to the east). If you think of Lodi as a warm place producing big, fat, alcoholic Zinfandel–you’re way out of date. As I was! It is true that Lodi produces 32% of California’s Zinfandel grapes–but a whole new generation of growers and winemakers is growing other grape varieties (over 100 of ’em!)…and looking to make much more balanced, European-style wines! This beauty, from an Italian-Swiss operation, blew my mind: had I tasted it blind, I surely would have guessed that it was very good central or southern Italian wine with the complexity of age. Pretty dark garnet, but not scary-dark. Really really pretty nose of ripe red fruit mixing it up with a whole range of subtle tertiary notes: smoke, miso, Japanese pickle. This flavor combo alone would endear this wine to me…but…it comes across in an elegant package, medium-bodied, supple, soft in the finish…like real wine! It is made from 47% Barbera, 22% Petite Sirah, 18% Alicante Bouschet, and 13% Carignane, a winning combo.
It paired magnificently at our lunch, which was at a NY Korean restaurant called Kristalbelli, a great destination for big hunks of Wagyu. The wine was gorgeous with rare meat. Even more challenging were the Korean condiments…and the Heritage rose sublimely to the occasion…especially with the salty-funky Korean soybean paste, doenjang!
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