November 25, 2014
The D’Art 2010 Zinfandel is a great example of why Lodi is considered the place to grow Zinfandel. While Dave generally prefers a good Cabernet in any situation, this zinfandel is dark and savory, making a good match for flavorful holiday foods.
The Dancing Fox 2011 Tempranillo is a great choice for those who like red-fruit aromas in an intense, full-bodied wine, and it a crowd-pleasing pairing for roasted meats and vegetables. And if you have a few days to spend with family, a visit to the Dancing Fox tasting room in Lodi is a treat – not only do they offer wines, but they have a widely-noted bakery as well!
Finally, it is hard to go wrong with a Michael David 6th Sense Syrah – although the 2008 and the 2012 are especially noted. In addition to red fruit aromas and savory flavors such as olive and bacon, these Syrahs have a peppery, spiced finish that is the perfect complement to a holiday meal.
Meanwhile, like many winemakers in California this year, Dave has been busy battling the elements in order to make the most of the 2014 harvest.
The plan was to make five wines: a Zinfandel, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Petite Sirah, a Malbec and a blend. But an unusually warm late summer intervened to cause problems with sugar content.
All of the wines started out at 27 brix, except the Malbec which started out at 26 brix. The Cabernet, the Petit Sirah and the Malbec all fermented nicely, but the Zinfandel became a winemaker’s nightmare – stuck fermentation. The Zinfandel got stuck at 4 brix and would not budge from there, despite three attempts to restart fermentation. After the third attempt, the Zinfandel started to have a strange smell, and it was clear that spoilage had occurred.
240 gallons of Zinfandel had to be thrown out, which Dave called “a real heartbreaker.” Ultimately, high fermentation temperatures were likely to blame – while the other vareitals hovered around 89 degress, the zinfandel went as high as 94 and would not drop below 90 – even when dry ice was used as a last-ditch effort. What was left over were four barrels – the Cabernet, the Malbec, the Petit Syrah and the blend, all of which are progressing nicely.
The blend is 50 percent Malbec, 30 percent Cabernet, and 20 percent Merlot which was purchased already-fermented specifically for this blend. All of the wines are aging in French oak barrels with a medium toast, which should provide a subtle addition to the flavor.
Stay tuned here for the progress of these wines and more local recommendations!