Tasting the Wines of Lodi, California, 2013

Tasting the Wines of Lodi, California, 2013

Lodi, in California’s Central Valley, is known for making cheap wines, and lots of them. But you can find quality even amongst the mass-market wines common to the area. Lodi’s LoCA campaign sent us a mixed case of a dozen wines, all from different wineries in the Lodi region — including more than a few surprising (and surprisingly good) varietals. We put them all to the test. Thoughts follow… along with some photos of the area for you to enjoy.

2011 Lange Twins Sauvignon Blanc Musque Clone Lodi – Huge mango notes on the nose, but more restrained on the body, where a steely, mineral finish becomes evident. The finish brings up more tropical notes, including pineapple. B+ / $13

2011 Harney Lane Albarino Lodi – Super fresh and alive. Lots of delicious apple, grapefruit, and lemon notes, tempered with just a touch of vanilla and hints of tropical fruits. Good acid and lots of fun to drink. I’d buy it by the case at this price. A / $19

2011 Uvaggio Vermentino Lodi – Best known for its use in southern Italian wines, Vermentino is an up-and-coming grape that has lots of versatility. Aromatic with lots of tropical fruit character, this wine is an easy, summery sipper, somewhere between a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Very light alcohol, and a great value. A- / $14

2010 Klinker Brick “Farrah” Syrah Lodi – Lots of fruit, heavy on the raisin and prune character. Surprisingly this works out fairly well. The dried fruit is tempered by wood and a touch of spice, with a smooth vanilla kicker. B / $19

2009 Ironstone Malbec Reserve Lodi – Again, very jammy and extracted. Atypical of Malbec, with spicy raisin, plum, and currant notes. Some vanilla on the finish. A big wine, but more like Zin than Argentinian Malbec. B+ / $28

2010 Kidder Family Winery Duet Lodi – A blend of 57% Graciano and 43% Tempranillo. Odd for Lodi, but with a curious tobacco, cedar box, and earthy character to it. Ample fruit, but not quite as heavy-handed as some of the wines on this list. B+ / $24

2010 m2 Tormenta Tempranillo Lodi Kirschenman Vineyard – Not just Tempranillo, single-vineyard Tempranillo. Intense and earthy, with a massive, enormous backbone. The finish is drying and reminiscent of both raisins and black tea… not a fantastic combination. C+ / $24

2010 Inkblot Cabernet Franc Lodi – Produced by Michael and David Phillips, Inkblot is one of very few Cab Francs produced in Lodi. Extremely dense and high in alcohol (15.2%), this gnarly wine has tons of fruit in it — sweet cherry and raspberry, plus a candy-like finish. Really big body, but aside from some very light tea leaf notes, not a whole lot to it. B / $35

2010 Fields Family Wines Old Vine Zinfandel Sherman Family Vineyards Lodi – A hearty Zin from the land built from the stuff, straightforward raisin notes with a whiff of smoke on the top. Big fruit, big jam, lots of residual sweetness, with a touch of a cola kicker. B+ / $24

2010 Macchia “Mischievous” Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi – Well-crafted, but heavily alcoholic Zinfandel. The fruit is rich without being ultra-jammy; it’s chocolatey with a coffee kicker. A touch of pencil lead on the nose adds curiosity. Not exactly what I’d call an easy-drinking wine, but it’s food friendly thanks to its heartiness and depth. Good price. B+ / $18

2010 d’Art Hand Crafted Wines Zinfandel Lodi – Lovely Zin, a chocolate-covered blueberry of a wine, loaded with exotic aromatics — spicy cherry compote, and hints of lychee. Good body, typical of a big Zin, and a fresh finish. A- / $22

2010 Mettler Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi – Definitely not the grape for Lodi. This wine is a bruiser. Dark blackberry and leather notes, with a thick spread of jam atop at all. Inky and with a strong overtone of coffee grounds, this one misses the mark. C- / $25

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Ryan Sherman on February 16, 2013 at 7:14 am

    Re: our Zin (Fields Family). I am just curious from your tasting notes, you mention residual sweetness. Are you referencing your opinion of the finish? Or is it your opinion that the wine has residual sugar?

  2. Christopher Null on February 16, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Ryan – sorry, that’s all just my impressions driven by tasting, not a scientific evaluation.

  3. Ryan Sherman on February 20, 2013 at 6:46 am

    No need to be sorry, I very much appreciate people’s personal opinions . The wine is dry, I was trying to figure out if you thought there was residual sugar.

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