| The Record
Lodi has perhaps the most diverse selection of wine varieties and styles anywhere, so look no further when deciding what to pair with the numerous flavors and textures on the Thanksgiving table.
Lodi’s signature variety, zinfandel, is noted for its versatility with food. It has spice and juicy black and red fruit flavors, medium acidity and moderate tannin. Zinfandel can be medium-bodied or big and bold with high alcohol. Many of Lodi’s top zins come from vineyards dating to the early 1900s, certainly a conversation starter as the bottle is shared.
This year, From the Vine has chronicled the growing season inside the Lizzy James Vineyard, hence, the 2018 Harney Lane Lizzy James Old Vine Zinfandel ($36) is a top recommendation. Planted in 1904, taken over and rehabilitated by the late George Mettler and his son-in-law Kyle Lerner in 2001, this vineyard started the winery. Structured and opulent with notes of cherry, perhaps because the vineyard rests next to a cherry orchard that Lerner grows; blackberry, pomegranate and sweet baking spices from a judicious touch of French oak.
The oldest vineyard in California, if not the world, planted to the French variety cinsault (also spelled cinsaut and pronounced San-so) resides in the Lodi appellation. Planted in 1886 by Joseph Spenker, whose descendants own and operate Jessie’s Grove Winery in Lodi, and farmed by Kevin Phillips of Phillips Farms, cinsault is a food-friendly wine you might not know about. Light-bodied, low tannin, silky, lower in alcohol, cinsault works with the spices in traditional stuffing and baked ham; it has cranberry, strawberry, rhubarb and pomegranate notes perfect with turkey; and a hint of cloves and spices that work with side dishes, such as creamed spinach with mushrooms.
Lodi produces several fine expressions of cinsault from the aforementioned 134-year-old Bechthold Vineyard in the Mokelumne River micro-appellation, starting with the 2019 Jessie’s Grove Sinso ($25), which has the variety’s telltale strawberry and rhubarb characteristics. Estate Crush on Lockeford Street in Lodi showcases the variety’s versatility with four styles: the 2019 Estate Crush Sparkling Rosé ($26), the 2019 Estate Crush Cinsaut Blanc ($24), the 2019 Estate Crush Rosé of Cinsaut ($21) and the 2019 Cinsaut ($26).
Not a grape variety, Nouveau is a fresh wine made from the current vintage. In France, Beaujolais nouveau is released the third Thursday in November. Made from the gamay grape and fermented using carbonic maceration, the wine is meant to be consumed immediately, so it finds its place on many holiday tables.
Bokisch Vineyards just released a nouveau made with Grenache, syrah and mouvédre grapes from the “Rasteau Row” in the Terra Alta Vineyard near the winery in Clements Hills. Rasteau is a village in the southern Rhone where those varieties are renowned. The 2020 Bokisch Vineyards Trencadis Nouveau Style Red ($27) is fruit-forward – strawberry, pomegranate – and balanced with acidity, light-bodied and easy to drink.
With lighter fare, such as seafood, vegetables and salads, white wines are a safe choice. Acquiesce Winery owner and winemaker Susan Tipton’s selection of white wines made from southern Rhone varieties on her estate in Acampo not only pairs with those foods but also stands up to turkey, ham, stuffing and hearty appetizers. The 2018 Acquiesce Winery Belle Blanc ($36) blend of roussanne, Grenache blanc and viognier is great with turkey and all the sides.
If turkey isn’t the main course, a juicy barbera would be a wise move. Barbera has high acidity and fresh fruit flavors that are super with food, especially tomato sauce-based dishes, such as ravioli or lasagna. Among the best expressions is the 2018 St. Amant Barbera ($18). Going for something heartier, say beef, then consider Petite Sirah, a variety that has a lot of structure, spice and savory qualities going for it. And if that sounds good, try the 2017 Heritage Oak Petite Sirah ($25), which is bold, inky in color and fruity in flavor. PRIE Winery’s 2018 Dornfelder ($23) has fig, blackberry and green peppercorn notes. The fruit is from the Mokelumne Glen Vineyard, planted by Bob Koth to German and Austrian varieties.
For more information, contact the wineries directly or visit http://lodiwine.com.
The important thing, as always, is drink what you love with what you love and with whom you love this Thanksgiving. Cheers.
Contact reporter and wine columnist Bob Highfill at (209) 546-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bobhighfill. Join the From the Vine group page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FTV209.