To cap off all of our posts about the recent Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, CA last month, I would like to give out some medals. During the time we were there, the Games of The XXXI Olympiad, otherwise known as Rio 2016, were being televised. This backdrop of olympic hopefuls, representing 207 nations and 11, 303 athletes, rounded out each day of the conference, as well as that entire 2-week period. The talent, the emotional stories, the display of commitment, hard work, team work and pride was magnetizing. We sacrificed precious sleep to stay up late and watch. There were stand-outs, surprises and of course, a little controversy. So for this post, in alignment with the Olympics, I am giving nods to some wines, wineries and other noteworthy establishments in Lodi. Let the games begin!
Italian Cuisine: Pietro's Trattoria . I have no photos to share, but trust me, this place has delectable food. Beloved by locals, they source from their own garden, bringing fresh local ingredients to traditional Italian dishes. They also have an extensive wine selection which includes local wines and more. Buon appetito!
To Dine in Elegance: Rosewood Bar and Grill. If you are seeking a fine dining experience, check out Rosewood. Located in the center of town, they also source local ingredients for their bistro fare. And of course they offer an ample wine selection to pair with the refined cuisine. The ambiance and food are primo!
There really is only one game in town. Wine & Roses. I love the name. It reflects 2 of my favorite accoutrements in life. This place was described to me by a local as, "like being in Tuscany". The grounds are on 7 acres of stunning plant life. The room was very comfortable and boasted a private balcony as large as the room itself. It was luxury and comfort, the way it should be. They have a spa and a restaurant on the grounds, as well as the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, or LoCA, as they are known. There you can taste and purchase (this is key!) local wines. Very helpful, especially on days when certain tasting rooms are not open, but you still wish to try their wines. I highly recommend staying here to make your visit all the more special.
Samples of Heavenly Indulgence: Cheese Central. Perhaps some of you do not require a category of "cheese" when you travel to a new place. Not that anyone actually "needs" cheese, but if you are able to incorporate it, why not? Lodi has its own little cheese shop, on the ready to sample out an aged gouda, a smoked cheddar, a truffled goat or the ever popular, burrata. They have many accompanying products to peruse or purchase. You may also consider buying some cheese and taking it to one of the wineries which allows patrons to picnic, provided you buy some of their wine of course. And if not, well you can buy wine right here, and craft beer. This little gourmet spot is as the locals describe, "a gem of Lodi".
Artisanal Tasting Room and Wine: Jeremy Wine Co. We were absolutely enamored with this tasting room and their wine. It is located in the center of town, a mere block from the cheese shop, and it is a winner. From the vintage feel of the design to the quality of the wine, every detail is attended to. They make mostly reds, save one Albarino. We especially enjoyed "The Gentleman", which is a blend of almost equal proportions of 3 Italian varieties: 33% Nebbiolo, 33% Barbera and 34% Sangiovese. With 18 months of barrel aging, the wine is structured, but with medium tannin and big juicy fruits. Very delicious.
Killer Wine: m2. Perhaps our favorite wine overall. We had sampled their wines throughout the conference but had not really had the concentrated focus, until we visited the tasting room. This experience was well worth the short drive into the country. With vineyards all around, the modern tasting room is an oasis on hot Lodi days. Constructed with large sliding walls, it was closed up the day we visited, due to the scorching August heat. The winery cats though, were wandering about and Bob, as you will see in the photos, is quite the photogenic feline.
The wine is of very high caliber. They source grapes from Lodi, Napa and The Sierra Foothills to make Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo and some red blends. They also make a Viognier, which I found sumptuous, full of ripe pears and a slate rock finish. But they are making some spectacular reds. We enjoyed all of the wines but to give this Lodi series a proper send-off, I will ruminate on the Zinfandel. The m2 Soucie Old Vine Zin, comes from a vineyard of the same name and represents the varietal that Lodi is known for. Old vines in sandy soil springing the zinfandel grape, ripening in the blistering summer sun, producing fruit that can liquify into cooked sauce. It smells of black raspberries, beckoning you as Chambord would, to take a generous and slow sip. Savor. This is a rich wine. Silky ribbons of blackberry and currant wave over your palate. The finish lingers, drying out the fruit, exposing smoky planks of oak. The wine carries forth the heat of its making, leaving the drinker wanting more. You will be implored to buy a bottle or a case and leave feeling like you just won the gold.