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Lodi wine professionals defend big, bold wines

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Posted: Monday, February 25, 2008 10:00 pm

In Lodi's wine country, where bold, flavorful Zinfandels are king, there's no controversy about high-alcohol content wines - consumers love them.

At least that's the message from several local wine professionals.

"The average consumer likes these big, bold wines," said Dave Phillips, co-owner of Michael David Vineyards and Winery, just west of Lodi. "They make an impression."

He noted his Earthquake Zinfandel, which includes about 16 percent alcohol, is the company's most highly awarded wine. Demand for the product has climbed steadily, he noted.

Grapes for the reserve wine are left on the vine into October, while the rest are picked several weeks earlier. That extra bit of ripening provides the "groundshaking taste" noted on the company's Web site - not to mention the extra alcohol.

Wine critics in some parts, however, fear the trend toward higher alcohol content wines is growing out of control. Many favor the more traditional and sedate 12 or 13 percent wines.

Stuart Spencer, winemaker for St. Amant Winery just north of Lodi, said flavor, not alcohol content drives his product.

He added that he hasn't seen any backlash toward his bolder wines.

"I think the trend has been going in the other direction," he said.

Leonard Cicerello, owner of Lodi Wines, a wholesale wine distributor, said he still prefers the more temperate wines when dining. The bolder wines can overpower the taste of some meals, he said.

When it comes to enjoying wine on its own, however, the local businessman said the bigger the taste the better.

He added that most of the wines he distributes are the bolder, higher alcohol content wines.

"It's much to do about nothing," Cicerello said of the controversy. "There isn't a single person in Lodi concerned about it."

He added that many of the critics who are panning California reds are simply "myopic."

"Consumers aren't necessarily complaining," he said. "The interesting thing is the so-called wine experts are doing the complaining."

Contact reporter Chris Nichols at chrisn@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 2:39 am on Wed, Feb 27, 2008.


    I drank a yummy Chard at a crab feed! let me think of the name. I don't care for many white wines, but this one I slurppped on all night. It was good. A Cotta wine. I can't think of the name. crud!

  • posted at 2:35 am on Wed, Feb 27, 2008.


    What Borra wine do you suggest? I've never tried them.

  • posted at 7:24 pm on Tue, Feb 26, 2008.


    I knew I was leaving out one of my favorites. Mettlers do makes some great stuff, and Borra too.

  • posted at 3:55 pm on Tue, Feb 26, 2008.


    Mettlers make good wine out there on Aline... i'm a poet!

  • posted at 3:11 pm on Tue, Feb 26, 2008.


    Mettlers make an awesome cab that was over 15%.. or IS over 15%. It is yummy. But only one glass and no driving after that glass. Perfect to sip in front of the fireplace.

  • posted at 1:46 pm on Tue, Feb 26, 2008.


    Local wineries have seen positive growth in both sales and reputation. Whatever they're doing seems to be working well, so why change it. I would like to see one trend change. I'd like someone to start putting chardonnay back in a barrel. I like secondary fermentation in my chard. St. Amant is doing an outstanding job with all their wines, and ports. So is Jesse, Lucas, Van Ruiten, Macchia, Pasos, Watts, Klinker Brick, Century Oak, Old Lockeford, and those are just a few of my local faves. I use only one criteria, my tongue.

  • posted at 3:22 am on Tue, Feb 26, 2008.


    Wine that's 16%?? I think most of the world calls that cooking sherry.

  • posted at 2:55 am on Tue, Feb 26, 2008.


    Some friend of mine from France come in to Cali every winter to ski. Their winos, they love good wine. I brought up several wines from lodi,they loved them. Earthquake was their fav. Our stuff gets around.

  • posted at 2:52 am on Tue, Feb 26, 2008.


    That's a yummy bug glup

  • posted at 2:28 am on Tue, Feb 26, 2008.


    "The interesting thing is the so-called wine experts are doing the complaining."
    Yep, and that's why they're wine experts. They know more than you or I. Why not order your Earthquake Zin in a Big Gulp cup with some fries to go? Nothing subtle here, then.



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