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4 January, 2018

Old Vine Zinfandel 2017 Releases from Lodi, CA

Comments : 2 Posted in : Primitivo / Zinfandel, Red Wine, Wine on by : The Gourmez

On National Zinfandel day in November, I tasted several current old vine zinfandel releases from wineries in Lodi, both big and small.

Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel earthquake michael david fields harney lane

These wines were provided to me for free to review from LoCA, the Lodi Wine Grape Commission, as part of a virtual tasting event on Facebook. Kevin Phillips of Michael David Winery , Kyle Lerner of Harney Lane Winery, and Stuart Spencer of St. Amant Winery  joined in to talk about old vine zinfandels from the Lodi region. You can view the video and comments on Facebook.

I raised an eyebrow when these growers and winemakers stopped just short of admitting they take better care of their older vines than their newer ones – it’s okay, gentlemen, protecting these elder statesmen is a worthwhile investment. 😉 Indeed, the vines are under threat because they require harvesting by hand and close attention, and farm labor is becoming harder to find all the time.

Lodi is home to the oldest zinfandel grapes in California, with many growing over 100 years, though the term old vine can apply to any zinfandel vines aged 50 years or older. Such distinguished vines are known for providing great depth of flavor and personality, and the wines in my glass certainly showed such distinction. Here are my notes, in increasing order of preference:

Harney Lane 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel (Lizzy James Vineyard)

The Harney is much lighter bodied than expected with its rugged amber edges. Earthy, toasted grain notes cry out, begging for toasted spelt or quinoa to cultivate them. The fruit digs roots deep into the dusty ground: you can feel its struggle for life in this terroir-driven wine. Plum and prune fruit notes with an allspice finish. 3/5

Fields Family Wines 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel (Stampede Vineyard):
Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel Fields Family Wines

Why yes, that is a dragon with good taste.

Tastes of shriveled blackberries with seeds. It’s spicy and dusty with a sharp finish of oregano and nopales. I can picture it standing up quite well to a dense, rich, berry mole. 4/5

2014 Michael David Earthquake Zinfandel:

This one gets second place because it had the best nose of the bunch. Plus, I’m charmed that Kevin writes the poems on the back of his wine bottles, and this one spelled old vine with its beginning letters.

The Earthquake Zin has many layers, but it’s smooth across the board. Heat grows once in contact with the mouth. Extra dark chocolate with a splash of kirsch comes through, as does a jammy texture and notes of macerated blackberries, sage, and a finishing sprinkle of pepper and cinnamon. 4/5

Ironstone Vineyards 2015 Reserve Lodi Ancient Vine Zinfandel (Rous Vineyard):
Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel Ironstone Vineyards Reserve

I shall valorously protect my top choice!

Mmm, was my first thought drinking this wine, followed by a smile as cocoa notes gave me a hug. Then I galloped into fields of fresh, dark, ripe, rich fruit and left with my one true love and a lingering brandy note. 5/5

Interestingly, the Rous Vineyard is right up the road from the Lizzy James Vineyard, but the end products couldn’t be more different! Sampling all these wines side-by-side is a testament to terroir and winemaker skill. Any is worth a glass. Or several.

Reviewed 15 November 2017.


2 thoughts on : Old Vine Zinfandel 2017 Releases from Lodi, CA

  • January 4, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    This sounds interesting. Though I’m not usually a big fan of zins, I must admit the ones from the really old vines are the most interesting wines. Thanks, Becca

    • The Gourmez
      January 5, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      Not a big fan of zins? The horror! But I supposed some would feel the same way to know I’m not a big fan of gewurtz or riesling.

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