This morning I am leaving a fun filled long weekend in Lodi. I was there attending for the first time the Wine Bloggers Conference. I have been wanting to visit Lodi for years so I am thrilled to have wined, dined, and learned so much about this great region. Of course the Lodi people are amazing. I will be sharing many fun and educational experiences I had at #WBC16 over the coming weeks. For now I want to honor this great wine region by re-booting an article I shared at the beginning of the summer featuring four very unique varietals found in Lodi. Enjoy!
By now you surely know that Lodi, California is a rockin wine region. They were, after all, awarded the “2015 Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. You have probably even enjoy the bounty of Lodi with their stellar Zinfandels, killer Cabernets and perfect summertime Sauvignon Blancs. But Lodi has a secret? It’s a secret vineyard that is home to the largest (48 varietals) German and Austrian grape collection in the US. If this was a secret to you (as it was to me), I am here to spread the word; the secret is out!
During my recent trip to Italy, Charles Communications hosted another one of their fun and informative #BrandLive tastings featuring four outstanding wines from Lodi’s Mokelumne Glen Vineyard. As you can imagine I was disappointed to miss this tasting event. However, the great people at Charles Communications sent me the wines to try and the link to the live Ustream video to watch so I can share these great wines with you! Here is the link if you would like to watch the video yourself: http://cca.yourbrandlive.com/c/mokelumneglen
Mokelumne Glen Vineyard was bought and planted by Bob and Mary Lou Koth in 1962. They were both teachers and did not have much time so farmed the vineyard with traditional varietals. In the nineties their daughter was studying as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. Bob and Mary Lou traveled to visit her many times. While in Germany, Bob discovered the beauty of German Riesling (insert angelic choir). This discovery lead to Bob’s determination to grow Northern European grapes in his east-side Lodi vineyard. How could this possibly work? The vineyard’s proximity to the Mokelumne River’s cool waters helps to moderate the Mediterranean type climate in the Koth’s shaded vineyard, allowing for temperature drops of 40-50 degrees from the daytime to the night. Additionally, the classic Mokelumne River AVA Tokay soil that contains sandy loam which is deep, fertile yet porous composed of a slightly alkaline pile of finely crushed granite that has accumulated over millions of years of run-off from the Sierra Nevadas, helps the grapes maintain their natural acidity regardless of the climate.
From 1998 to 2009 the Koth’s bottled their own eclectic assortment of German and Austrian wines under their label, Mokelumne Glen Vineyards. In 2010, they decided to discontinue their commercial wine production and began selling the grapes to a select group of local wineries and home based wine makers. In this episode of Charles Communications #BrandLive tasting of #LodiLive four of these eclectic wines were selected for sampling and learning more about these unique grapes, wineries, and Mokelumne Glen Vineyard.
These wines I am about to share with you are unique varietals. They are what the wine world calls “hand sells,” meaning they are unfamiliar to most American consumers so they must be suggested by a winery rep, sommelier or service staff, or retail clerk. You can see they are very well priced so I encourage you to try all of them! Isn’t it cool to have a wine region that is willing to experiment and have some fun!
Holman Cellars 2015 Uncharted Lodi Bacchus: Crafted from 100% Bacchus; soft gold in the glass; aromas of apricots, white peaches, soft notes of lemon zest and nutmeg; racy acidity leads the way in this tart and tangy wine; mouth-coating, really pleasing, long tart finish; 14% alcohol; 3 day skin contact pre-fermentation, stainless steel fermentation; 2nd vintage; only 45 cases produced SRP $25.00 Holman Cellars.
Markus Wine Co. 2014 Nimmo Lodi White Wine: Crafted from 71% Kerner, 13% Gewürztraminer, 11% Riesling, 5% Bacchus; soft straw in the glass; inviting aromas of white stone fruit, citrus zest, soft tropical fruit and a hint of lychee; round on the palate with a touch of rich texture, crisp and clean, easy to drink and enjoy, balanced acidity for a delicious mouth-coating finish; 13.8 % alcohol; cold fermentation at 55 degrees for 10 days in stainless steel, then 7 days in oak barrels then cellared for 9 months in 60% new French oak with the lees stirred every 10 days; native yeast; when winemaker Markus Niggli lived in Australia he used to get lost on his way home so he wrote down the first letter of each street he had to turn on to arrive home = NIMMO (no relation to the fish); SRP $22.00 Markus Wine.
Hatton Daniels 2015 Lodi Zweigelt: Crafted from 100% Zweigelt; beautiful purple ruby in the glass; interesting aromas, ripe blue and red berries are met with black tea, and a flinty, dusty earth minerality that I could not quite place – winemaker’s notes say gun powder, perhaps that is it – light on the palate with a soft mouthfeel, balanced acidity and soft tannins, very unusual, perfectly pleasing wine, great in the summertime heat, contains no sulfites; predominately grown in Austria where it is often served slightly chilled as an aperitif; 11.9% alchol; only 72 cases produced; SRP $24.00 Hatton Daniels Wine Cellars
m2 Wines 2014 Belle Étoile Blanche: This late harvest dessert wine was crafted from 35% Reislaner, 25% Weissburgunder, 20% Riesling, 20% Gewürztraminer; glistening gold in the glass; summer sweet aromas of ripe lychee, tropical fruit notes of pineapple and mango, and a lovely hint of gardenias; perfect on the palate, fresh and clean, sweet but beautifully balance with zesty acidity, definitely not syrupy sweet; 13.3% alcohol; fermentated for three months in 50% in neutral French oak barrels and 50% stainless steel tanks; SRP $24.00 m2 Wines
I paired each of these wines with a Sushi Feast! We had Cherry Blossoms, Spicy Tuna Rolls, Philadelphia Roll, smoked salmon, ahi tuna, edamame, and a Tuna Tower. Each of these wines, as expected were utterly delicious with the sushi! While the Holman Cellars and Markus Wine Co. wines went with everything, the Hatton Daniels Zweigelt was perfect for the rolls we dipped in soy sauce. The m2 loved the spicy sauce and the incredible Cia Bella Blood Orange Sicilian Sorbetto we had for dessert. You know it’s a great meal when it works with four totally unique wines!
These may be wines for wine geeks because they are unfamiliar grapes with names that are difficult to pronounce. However, if you enjoy interesting wines that taste great these wines are worth seeking out, buying and sharing. Additionally, these are great conversation wines. One of my wine philosophies is I like to serve people wines they like, they just don’t know it yet. These totally fit that bill! Furthermore, if you have not yet bought wines from Lodi, what are you waiting for? The time is now. These are the type of wines that make wine fun!
Huge thanks to Charles Communications and Lodi Wine Commission for sharing these unique, fun, and delicious wines with me.
My Song Selection: These grapes are a long way from their home. It took guts and a touch of craziness for the Koth’s to decide to grow these grapes in Lodi. It took even more guts and craziness for winemakers to craft them into wines. However, the guts and craziness is paying off because these four wines are unique, delicious, and like nothing else!
Get your own bottles of Lodi’s own Mokelumne Glen Vineyard wines and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!