Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Pair of Big and Silken Reds from the Lodi AVA

Two Big Smooth Reds Credit: Bill Rokcwell


As if California doesn’t have enough in the way of wine riches by way of Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Monterey, the coastal counties, the Sierra Foothills, Temecula  and more, you have to add the Lodi to the list of the state’s wine making regions.
In 2015 the "Wine Enthusiast" recognized the Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA) as the Wine Region of the Year.

Recently, I had a chance to sample two red wines from the Lodi region produced by Don Sebastiani and Sons whose portfolio includes labels like Aquinas, Custard, Gunsight Rock, Silvas-Sonoma and Smoking Loon.

Silken yet very robust, the Big Smooth Old Vine Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, both with a 2015 vintage, come with a wine making philosophy of producing wines with big fruit flavor with silken tannins and a velvety finish.

The 2015 Old Vine Zin, a blend of 81% Zinfandel, 13% Petite Syrah and 6% Merlot sourced from Lodi growers, really stands out from the crowd visually with an eye-catching, yet simple, deep purple label. The nose is very assertive with aromas of plum, cinnamon, black pepper, black raspberries and vanilla. On the palate, notes of berry, red currant and spice blend with satiny tannins that end with a long finish with a touch of oak produced by aging for 12 months in the barrel.

The 15.5% alcohol is masked by its ripe, rich and intense fruit flavors. If anything, I found the 2015 vintage a bit too young and would recommend letting it rest for a few years before opening. For those with little patience, drinking now can be a satisfying experience whether drunk alone or as an accompaniment to dinner, especially with barbecued meats and chocolate desserts.

Big Smooth’s 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon carries with it the winemaker’s soft tannin with bold fruit flavors style that’s marketed in a bottle with a deep red, minimalist label. A blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 4% Petite Syrah and 3% Malbec, the 2015 vintage is full-bodied and carries aromas of red cherry, blackberry with a touch of chocolate mint and vanilla. Each varietal contributes its own unique fruit flavors in a subtle structural blend.

The majority of the grapes in Big Smooth’s inaugural 2015 Cab comes from a small family vineyard on the eastern side of Lodi. The flavor profile is a rich melange of boysenberry, black cherry plum accented by hints of sage, rosemary, spearmint and leather with a animated acidity.

Coming in at 14% alcohol, the 2015 Big Smooth Cab can use a bit more aging, but might also mate well right now with leg of lamb, roast beef, steaks, goose and pates.
Both wines retail in the $17 to $21 range.

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