Friday, February 1, 2008

Klinker Brick Zinfandel from Lodi

Imagine you are a grape vine growing in a valley in Northern California. Your roots have been tunneling deep in the sandy loam for almost a century. Though you are no where near as tall as those wimpy Coastal redwoods who have it so easy when it comes to getting water, you are able to get all the water you need during the long, hot, dry summers. You love the heat! As the sun beats mercilessly on your green canopy, you carry the moisture and nutrients from the soil and parse them out to the small clusters of little berries that hide below. Your small fruit grows sweeter each day with an intesity born of toiling by surviving 100 plus degree days.

Yet there is a reprieve when the Delta breeze comes though as the sun begins to set. The cool fingers of this gentle wind slip through your branches and leaves. Your fruit rests. Soft tannins and balancing acidity are nutured in each berry. As the silver moon light dances off your leaves, it's as if the night is trying to impart its own character, not leting the sun alone have its influence on your fruit.

Lodi is not the only part of the world to have this play of hot days and pleasant evenings; it's a classic Mediterranean climate. But this area has become famous for its Zinfandels. One of my favorites is from the Klinker Brick Winery. Like other Lodi wineries, the folks at Klinker Brick have been growing grapes since the early 1900's. Even during prohibition, the vineyards of Lodi still produced grapes for making wine, though most were shipped to Canada or the East Coast for home made wine making, allowed by under the Volstead Act. In fact, demand for winegrapes actually increased during Prohibition in the Lodi area. Thousands of railcars left Lodi each harvest full of Zinfandels, Tokays, Alicante's, and many other winegrapes.

The Klinker Brick Zinfandel may be too much of a fruit-bomb for some wine lovers, but for my inexperienced palate it's a joy. I enjoy the subtler flavors of a drier wine like a Rhone or Bordeaux, but it's a real pleasure to taste the full bodied explosion of flavor when I drink this Zinfandel. There is a jammy, almost strawberry flavor, spicy pepper and something I can only describe as Zinfandel. Maybe when I've tasted more wine, I'll be able to disect the flavors I sense when I experince a Zinfadel, but right now it is a singular flavor.

I look forward to trying the "Old Ghost", or Old Vine, Klinker Brick, as well as their Syrah. I you're looking for a fruit-bomb of a Zinfandel, then a bottle Klinker Brick may be for you. You'll find out what the right amount of blazing sunlight and cooling breeze can accomplish from the soils of Lodi!

Tasting Notes:

Color: Dark ruby red

Aroma: Pepper, yeast, Zinfandel

Taste: Jammy strawberry, pepper, lots of fruit

Finish: Tannnis and spice


Taster B said...

Being something of a wine newbie myself I understand your reservations about recommending a big fruit-bomb:) I too like the Lodi old-vine zins. I would try this one just based on your intuitive description of the life of a Lodi vine!

Orion Slayer said...

You'll have to let me know if you do try the Klinker Brick!

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