Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lodi Wine: Bechthold Vineyard Cinsaults

Do you know what a fun project would be? Drinking a different wine from Lodi every day, for a year. The quality and variety of wines from this area in California is simply mind-blowing. A man can dream, right? Recently, I got to add to my Lodi experience by tasting samples of Cinsault wines from the famed Bechthold Vineyard, sipping and chatting with other aficionados through the Charles Communications Brandlive channel and Twitter, Really a great evening. We tasted wines from Michael David Winery, Turley Wines, Estate Crush, and Onesta Wines.

Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault

Originally planted in 1886 by Joseph Spenker, Bechthold Vineyard, the oldest continuously farmed vineyard in the Lodi AVA, consists of 25 acres of gnarled head trained vines. Originally thought to be Black Malvoisie and at times close to being ripped out, it was discovered the grapes were actually Cinsault, and a call was made to Randall Grahm, of Bonny Doon, the original Rhone Ranger. The vineyard was being minimally farmed – just sprayed for sulfur, pruned, and weeded, with no irrigation, but the vines were in excellent shape. Grahm used the Cinsault in his Le Cigare Volant, a Châteauneuf-du-Pape inspired red wine blend. And the vineyard was saved. Now up to 17 wineries receive grapes from the vineyard, making rosé and red wines. While winemaking has a part in the variety of flavors coming out, there are certainly marked differences in the terroir across the 25 acres, some due to soil and much of it having to do with water availability. While the vineyard is dry-farmed while grapes hang on the vines, the plot is inundated at the end of each season, giving the vines a long drink before their winter dormancy.

Tasting Notes:
2013 Turley Wine  Cellars Cinsault: 100% whole cluster (no de-stemming of the fruit), Turley does not inoculate the fermentations, primary and malolactic are all native. Turley does not use any enzymes, and does not acidify the wine. Just grapes! Aged 5-7 years in French oak barrels; lovely very light ruby color, evincing pomegranate juice; cassis, cream soda, subtle herb and vanilla flavors; cassis, plum, strawberry and toast flavors; light but surprisingly round mouthfeel into an acidic finish; cork closure;  1000 cases produced; SRP $17. $17! This was a surprisingly fruity yet restrained wine, a classic feeling and tasting wine, sure to please most palates. 
2013 Ancient Vine Michael David Cinsault: Aged 12 months in neutral French oak; deep dark garnet color; earthy red fruit aromas; dark cherry, cassis, pomegranate, and dark plum flavors; 14.5% ABV; cork closure;  SRP $25. Beautiful acid on this wine, super smooth when tasted with food. 
2012 Estate Crush Cinsault: opaaue ruby in appearance; dusty dark plum, strawberry, and cassis aromas; dark cherry, rhubarb, strawberry and pomegranate flavors; cork closure; 100 cases produced;  SRP $26. 
2011 Onesta Cinsault: Saignée method, colad soaked, extended maceration; aged 9 months in neutral French oak; beautiful transparent ruby color; cassis, toast, rhubarb and bright red fruit aromas; stewed plum, rhubarb, and earthy red berry flavors; medium mouthfeel with a nice acid backbone; cork closure; 370 cases produced;   SRP $29.
This was an amazingly diverse and high-quality tasting. These wines are unlike any others, certainly few others have the history associated with this long-lived vineyard. Many of agreed that these would make ideal Thanksgiving wines, though of course I'd open one up at any time of the year.

Charles Communications Associates is an independent creative marketing firm that employs traditional public relations and new media strategies to assist companies, organizations and non-profits in the creation, development and marketing of interesting and compelling brands. Recognized as one of the most effective PR firms in the wine industry, we have an exceptional track record of promoting products in the gourmet, natural and organic food and beverage categories, from wine and tea to top shelf spirits and luxury goods. We consider ourselves fortunate to work with clients who share our philosophy of social responsibility in work and everyday life.

These wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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