Lodi Wine and Visitor CenterNext we visited the Lodi Wine and Visitor Center where they pour wines from many different wineries in Lodi. We had a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable young man pour us the wine and he really enhanced our experience. Thank you Fungai! We started with the 2005 Vino Brio Pinot Grigio ($16). It had very soft, muted nose and palate with not enough acidity to make it interesting. This wine did not really do it for me. Moving on to the 2005 Gustavo Thrace, Mohr Frey Ranch, Sauvignon Blanc ($16.50) I kind of had the same experience. These are certainly not bad wines and nicely chilled they are a good option for a hot summer day, but not much more then that. On to some red wines we were poured the 2005 Jessie's Grove "Ancient Vine" Carignane. This was a real surprise coming from 117 year old vines. It is not very often you see a "pure" Carignane wine (81% Carignane, 15% Petite Sirah and 4% Syrah) as it is mostly used as a blending grape, especially to a high extent in France. This wine however was full of dark red fruit and berries with nice supporting acidity and tannins to give this very smooth medium bodied wine a medium length finish. Had to get a bottle of this one... The 2004 Mettler Syrah was up next. This Syrah was made in a more elegant style than many other syrahs, with just medium dark fruit and less spice than usual. At the first sip I really liked it but then I discovered a funky note on the nose of wet hay. Can't say that the wine was spoiled or defected, maybe a stylistic approach, but not to my liking... Last up was a Cabernet Sauvignon and the sad thing is that I really enjoyed it but I do not remember the maker or vintage... Oh well...
From here we just walked a few steps to have lunch at Wine and Roses (a hotel, restaurant and spa resort). I have read about this place and I was very excited that my friends had planned for this as our lunch stop. We started of by trying the Dungeness Crab Cocktail, with mango, avocado, and topped with wonton chips. The crab tasted super fresh and was deliciously sweet and well paired with the avocado, mango and some other ingredient that I can not recall. We also tried the Squash and Zucchini Soup with green zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and some additional vegetables in a broth. Light but so incredibly flavorful. A great soup for the summer.For entree I had the Grilled Scottish Salmon glazed with a BBQ sauce, on Israeli couscous, sauteed pea tendrils and baby organic beets. The salmon was perfectly moist and the beets soft and sweet. Altogether an awesome dish! I would have it in a heart beat again. After that I was surprised with a birthday dessert. The plate consisted of three chocolate items. A Chocolate Irish Cream Mousse with a Butterscotch Cream Center sitting on top of an Oatmeal Crust. To die for! On the side was a Dark Chocolate Ganache Chip studded with chocolate chunks and a creamy, Frothy Vanilla Drink with a Chocolate Dipped Tuille. Trust me when I say that I was in heaven after this meal. Outstanding! If you ever pass by Lodi make sure to stop here for a meal or two...
Lunch was over and we were stuffed as we headed of to the next winery, Van Ruiten Family Winery. The 2004 Rose of Cab-Shiraz ($12) was bone-dry with nice rose petals and raspberry on the nose and palate. I am usually not a big rose fan but this one was actually really nice. Next up was the 2003 Cab-Shiraz ($15) that had nice full body, with dark fruit, dark cherries, black currant and some spice, but nothing special. My favorite from this winery was the last pouring, the 2002 Old Vine Zinfandel ($18) It had dark, ripe, lush fruit and berries with a nice spiciness from pepper and good acidity and tannins as backbone.
Last stop was the Michael David Winery. I had not heard of them before and to my surprise they produce the wines I so often see in the grocery store, like Seven Deadly Zins, Seven Heavely Chards, Incognito etc. We tasted to many wines for me to keep track of here, but let me talk about the ones I do remember. Sparkling Duet is a sparkling wine made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Without giving to much detail (because I do not quite remember), it was slightly sweet, but light and refreshing. I am guessing a nice little bubbly, but since I did not take mental note of it I suspect nothing extraordinary. The 2005 Seven Heavenly Cards ($13) is a crowd pleasing, tasty chardonnay with fresh citrus, apple, some creaminess and good amount of acidity to keep it relatively light and refreshing. One of my favorite here was the Don's Lodi Red because it is so simple and plain but still satisfying to an extent. This is a blend of Carignane, Syrah and a touch of Symphony. A great everyday wine that I can see working great with meaty pasta dishes. A fruity, pleasing, simple blend that will not blow anyone away, but will be sure to please a lot of people as an all around table wine. On to the 2005 Seven Deadly Zins ($15). This is another budget favorite year after year. This zinfandel has great dark fruit with, black cherries, blackberry, and some pleasing peppery spice. Unfortunately it has to heavy oak for my taste, but on the other hand the majority likes this. This wine would be better (for my palate) with less oak and a little bit firmer tannins. Last but not least was a new interesting wine from the winery. The 2005 Petite Petit is a blend of Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot. I did not take any specific tasting notes for this wine but I remember it having pleasant flavors of dark fruit and relatively balanced, and I brought home a bottle and I'll make sure to review it in the near future. What made my whole day in the end was that Don, the father of Micheal and David, was in the store and when he learned that my big
three zero was coming up he came up and wished me happy birthday and gave me a bottle of his Don's Lodi Red and signed it with a birthday wish for me. Plus he threw in a bottle of the Seven Deadly Zins. What a kind man and what a great way to end our wine tasting! Thank you Don! And thank you Mark, (the tasting room guy who poured us the wine and entertained us), you did an awesome job!
What a day! And as if that was not enough my friends now took me back to Wine and Roses for a 90 minute ultimate spa treatment. I do not get spa treatment very often but when I do it is usually at pretty descent places around the world, and I have to say that this was one of the best ones I have ever had. Thank you June and Robyn for an absolutely wonderful day!!!
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