Tucked between the San Francisco Bay and Sierra Nevada mountain range is Lodi, an American viticultural area located in the Central Valley of California that offers great-value wines along with gorgeous California settings. The 2014 vintage was outstanding throughout most of California where consistent rainfall, steady temperatures, sunny days and cool nights allowed the grape ripening process to progress uniformly. Bud break on the vine happened early letting the fruit hang longer allowing ideal flavors to develop.
This makes the 2014 James Mitchell Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi, California a smart buy. Full-bodied and fruit forward, this robust and flavorful wine is all about ripe blackberry and dark cherry, warm spice, smoky mocha and vanilla from oak aging. The tannins are well integrated and the finish is nice and long.
Price: Case of 12 at $241.80 ($20.15 per bottle)
Drink: Now or over the next 5 years
Type/Variety/Body: Dry red, 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot, and 2% Merlot, Full-body
Food Pairing: Steak, barbeque ribs or juicy beef hamburgers
40 years ago the California Central Coast, where Lodi is located, had yet to emerge as one of North America’s world-class winegrowing regions even though grape vines are over 150 years old. Between the 40s-60s, Lodi produced sought-after dessert wines alongside some Zinfandel. Between the 60s-90s, as consumer tastes shifted from sweet wines to dry table wines the demand for premium varietal wines increased and Lodi progressively transitioned into a source for premium grapes. However, at that time, planting on the Central Coast was a risk many winemakers did not want to take. One of the early pioneers, Jerry Lohr of J. Lohr Vineyards and Winery was among the first to realize the vast, untapped potential of this now-acclaimed region.
Today, Lodi is predominately a red winegrowing region, with approximately two-thirds of the acreage dedicated to red varieties and is home to all of California’s leading varieties. It is a region known as California’s best kept secret for Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc. However, with over 100 varieties now in production, Lodi offers a vast portfolio of diverse and interesting wines.
Lodi has a Mediterranean climate with warm days and cool nights. The soil, unlike many other appellations, varies within the AVA, though in most places it is a deep loam that occasionally is covered with large rocks, similar to Chateauneuf du Pape.