Selections for May 2017

2012 ODISEA ‘The Temp’ TEMPRANILLO – Clements Hills, Lodi, California

This is the product of friend Adam Webb, whose whites and reds have appeared as club offerings several times over the years but never as a Tuesday Night Wine Club offering.  While Adam always strives for value in a wine place (Northern California) where real estate prices and economy make that more challenging, his wines simply don’t descend to the 12.49 per bottle category.  For his smaller-scale production level, there’s simply no money in it.  So how did this happen for us and you?  The aforementioned friendship (he helps us make our “Plus-de-Vie” house wine) and leverage.

By also buying his Cochon Syrah for our California Wine Lovers Club we were afforded a concession from Adam on THIS wine’s wholesale.  A bottle he lists as $21 on his website is yours – shhh! – for far less.  TWS gives its valued members a deal and Adam gets some inventory relief (his 2013 Tempranillo is impatient for its release).

Adam is one of several talented winemakers who access Lodi fruit and render it in a less over-the-top, more balanced style.  Ironically, these folks pursuing a more drinkable Lodi wine are rarely doing their thing IN Lodi.  Rather, they get good grapes and “get the hell out of Dodge,” so to speak.  If you visit the tasting rooms WITHIN Lodi a prevalence of style soon becomes apparent; that of “over the top”.  Adam and his peers, outside of the influence of that bubble, strive for a more drinkable style.  I think that’s showing here.

Smell this:  Is it generous?  Of course!  The source is a very warm place and the Tempranillo varietal is warmhearted in its own right.  – But don’t you also sense a certain tanginess?  - A suggestion of energy instead of plodding, gratuitous indulgence?  Taste it to be sure:  Yes, this five-year-old, inexpensive red declares actual liveliness along with myriad flavors - black plum, fresh tobacco, black cherries, and dark earth.  Here, my friends, you have a THOUGHTFUL value from another friend of ours.

2015 GRAN PASSIONE ROSSO – Veneto, Italy

This juicy-licious red comes from the land of Romeo and Juliet -  near Verona.  It is made by a producer of the famous and far more pricey red wine “Amarone” and uses the same grape varieties.  Why does it weigh in at a mere fraction of the price?  It takes less work and has a lower liability.  Basically, this inexpensive-yet-endearing gulper based on the local Corvina grape (with co-star Merlot) costs less to make.

“Regular” red wine is made from grapes brought in from the vineyards and immediately crushed and fermented.  Grape juice becomes an alcoholic beverage – albeit a not-yet-drinkable one – in a week’s time, more or less.  “Amarone” is different, with the picked fruit languishing in ventilated bins for several months before processing.  This takes the grapes to a nearly-raisined state of dehydration, and the resulting wine is incredibly concentrated.  Because so much of the potential wine has evaporated and because the process requires obsessive attention to prevent spoilage, Amarone typically costs $50 and up.

THIS wine is made from fruit seeing a mere 15-day drying-out period.  It costs far less because of the lower maintenance requirement, but could be called a “Baby Amarone” for its richer, dried fruit qualities.  Heady scents of dried cherries and red rose petals are followed by a rich, nearly-hedonistic texture of black plums, fresh leather, and – thankfully – a relieving citrus fruit effect.  Roasted meats are an automatic food-pairing recommendation here, and – more conveniently and casually – chunks of hard aged cheeses will also do the trick.  We sell the latter!