All signs point to Lodi Wine Country this weekend! So, pack your bags or call the babysitter because Lodi Wine is hosting a Tour of Albariño. Beginning today, August 10 through Sunday, August 12, nine participating Lodi wineries will pour Albariño and offer a unique […]
Tag: visit lodi
Niggli Releases Red Wine Line-Up, Adds to Already Stellar White Wine Collection
I need you to read this carefully…Markus Niggli is a visionary. Read it again. Markus Niggli is a visionary. He is changing the landscape of Lodi Wine with his unique perspective to wine making and distinctly nuanced style.
So, when I was offered an opportunity to sit down with Markus Niggli, past winemaker of Borra Vineyards and current Winemaker/Proprieter at Markus Wine Co., I jumped at the chance! After all, this guy hails from Switzerland and has been traversing the world in search of the perfect home for his own wine label.
I think it’s safe to say that Lodi is lucky he landed in its backyard. And while he is known for his off-the-wall German varietal white blends, he recently released inaugural vintages of his own red wine under the Markus Wine Co. label. And even luckier, is the fact that these wines tell a story of the terroir, quality and elegance Lodi wines can offer.
Niggli is a storyteller. Carefully examine each wine label to learn of a time and place representing different stages of his life’s journey. Take for example, the Nimmo. This bottle of wine is an homage to the place where he got his start in viticulture, Perth Australia. Niggli believes in including detailed descriptions of the wines on every bottle. This way, consumers don’t have to scurry to the website to discover what’s in each blend and at what brix the fruit was picked.
So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of the wines. While the labels denote some higher alcohol levels…I can assure you, these wines tell a different story in the glass. They are balanced, elegant, food friendly wines that will blow your mind and put to mind any pre-conceived notion of what kind of wine is produced in Lodi.
We began with a tasting of the whites. I had tried several of these before, but not all of them, and I was eager to delve in.First up was the Nativo, an aromatic Kerner based white wine. This field blend boasts Kerner 69%, Riesling 21% and Bacchus 10%, all sourced from Mokelumne Glen Vineyards. The Kerner is the only known vineyard in all of California. And the label, which I promised was a running history of Markus’s life travels, contains the postal code for his hometown of Weesen, Switzerland, along with the initials of Markus and his brothers Konrad and Bernhard. The Nativo is produced in stainless steel with layers of citrus, minerality and stone fruit. Nativo begs for a food partner…think ricotta with lemon zest on a baguette with fresh thyme or your basic chicken piccata.
Next we tried his Nuvola, a Gewurztraminer from Clarksburg and Insieme, another white wine blend of 95% Torrontes from Silvaspoons Vineyard and 5% Traminette. The Insieme is a fascinating partnership where Markus sources 5% of the Traminette from Cain Vineyards in North Carolina. A true story of east meets west.
Another of Markus Wine Co.’s signature white wines is the Nimmo. With 64% Kerner, 16% Riesling, 5% Bacchus coming from the Mokelumne Glen Vineyard and blended with 15% Gewurztraminer from Grand Island Vineyards in Clarksburg. The wine spent five months in 60% new French oak on lees and 35 days in stainless steel. There were striking notes of lemon and melon. Markus then explained with certainty that he is the only winemaker in the United States to age German varietals in oak. The crazy thing is-that it works. It really does.Now for the new kids on the block. Markus Wine Co.’s red wines. If the lack of sunny skies this spring has you screaming the blues…reach for Blue! A fruit-forward blend of Zinfandel, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah that is down right delicious. The name Blue, pays homage to Markus’s time spent tending and harvesting blueberry bushes for thirteen months in Pohangina Valley, New Zealand. The Old Vine Zinfandel hails from Borra Vineyard’s Gill Creek Ranch, planted in 1968. On the nose, Blue expresses bright fruit and a peppery finish with dried plum. This wine has soft tannins, hints of caramel and fruit-forward chocolate. It comes in at a whopping 16.5% alcohol, but I dare you to try and blindly tell me its over 15%. I wish I could tell you how he does it, but the result is a soft, gentle fruit-forward wine with balanced tannins. This wine is age-worthy and incredible. Get your hands on it while supplies last. It’s definitely one of the most food-friendly wines I’ve tried.My favorite wine of the pack was probably the Northern Rhone style red, Zeitlos. This blend of Syrah, Carignane, Petite Sirah and Viognier. The grapes are co-fermented, which allows for Niggli to extract the color while allowing the funk of the Rhone varietals to shine through. The Zeitlos comes in at 14.6% alcohol. With dark plum, cherry and rich tannins, this wine will age beautifully. It is definitely a bottle I want to drink again!
The 2015 Sol consists of 42% Petite Sirah, 37% Syrah Clone 877 and 21% Mourvedre. I wasn’t surprised that it received 94 points from the Wine Enthusiast, Editor’s Choice. Sol is bold, big and ripe with dark fruit. Look for blackberry and cassis, tobacco, and damp earth. I’m thinking red meat or grilled lamb chops would be a perfect pairing for the Sol. I also thoroughly enjoyed the 2015 Domo. A red wine blend of 75% Carignane, 15% Petite Sirah and 10% Syrah Clone 470. Carignane was one of the first varietals I tried when I moved to Lodi 12 years ago. I liked it then, but I really love it now. Dark fruit, hints of pepper and a long finish prove that atypical wine varieties can be delicious when crafted by talented winemakers like Markus Niggli. Enjoy this wine on a cold winter’s night with some beef stroganoff. In each of the four red wines, the fruit profile was in the forefront. But not in a knock-your-socks off kind of way. These are lean European style wines that showcase sophistication, exemplify Lodi’s terroir and truly left me wanting more. Niggli firmly believes food and wine should be enjoyed together. His wines are proof positive that he practices what he preaches!
My advice to you is this…get your hands on some or all of Markus Wine Co.’s line-up and spend a few weeks tasting your way through his portfolio. You won’t be disappointed.
You can follow Markus Wine Co. on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. You can also read more about him at www.markuswine.com
Fine Foodie Philanthropist
Towne House Restaurant Kicks off the New Year with McCay Cellars Dinner If you have read my blog, you know I’m a big fan of Towne House Restaurant in Lodi and their running series of wine dinners. Or, if this is your first time here, […]
Girl’s Night Out: Cocktails 101 at Wine and Roses It’s time to shake things up! Seriously. You know I always love a beautiful glass of wine, but sometimes the Fine Foodie Philanthropist needs a good cocktail! And when I do, I normally end up at […]
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of experiencing these taste makers in full effect for a Winemaker Dinner. Held at Riaza Winery, guests mingled and sipped on Verdejo before being ushered to our seats. Now let’s get on to the nitty gritty details of the food and wine pairings.
Chef Guantone kicked off the meal with a TKO. Fried Chicken and Caviar-do I really need to say anything else? Well, I will. The chicken was cooked to perfection…crispy, savory and packed with flavor. The crunch of locally sourced Passmore Ranch Caviar paired with the creaminess of the creme fraiche was almost too good. It was paired with the 2016 Bubbly, an elegant sparkling wine made of Verdejo in a true methode Champenoise. MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN!!Up next was a delightful salad that had my head spinning. This time of year, heirloom tomato and burrata salads flood local menus. But Chef Guantone delivered a unique spin on heirlooms with his signature salad: fruits and nuts. He brilliantly replaced the typical fat of cheese with a sunflower butter, which served as the base for his creation of Golden Bear Ranch’s heirloom tomatoes, stone fruit, melon, padron peppers and sunflower seeds. I literally tried to copy this dish two nights later, to no avail. Maybe after this review he will give me the recipe! The 2016 Irreverent was light and delicate, definitely an easy drinking summertime wine to keep on hand in your fridge. This Garnacha Rosé was pressed off after 12 hours of skin contact and aged in stainless steel for six months. One of the most unique dishes of the evening, was a Salmon ‘Nudja, complete with a Chow Chow my grandma would be proud of (she used to make it at the end of every summer and jar it for all of us kids to devour). The herbaceous, salmon played well with the balanced, food friendly Riaza 2014 Esoteric (Garnacha). The addition of local EVOO, corn, chives and radish packed a perfect punch of textures and flavors.The next dish, a caponata, again highlighted the bounty of fresh produce in Lodi’s backyard. The course consisted of smoky eggplant, combined with GBR heirloom tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, basils and pine nuts. The star of this course was the three different types of basil: Genova, Thai and Boxwood Piccolo. Each one lent unique flavor profiles to diner’s delights! The caponata was paired with Riaza’s 2015 Esoteric, a soft on the palate, fruit-forward Garnacha that I could drink every night. In case you don’t know, Guantone is also a regional sales manager for Creekstone Farms, and I could hardly wait to see how the 48-hour short ribs would turn out. The Creekstone Farms beef was prepared with a scallion-black garlic ash and braised carrots. The Riaza 2014 Outsider 2.0 stood up perfectly with the beef. This Tempranillo was aged 18 months in American and French Oak, and shows that this varietal is clearly performing well in Lodi. Our sixth and final course, may have actually been my favorite dish of the night. We were served a jar of custard, literally, with maple syrup and Jacobsen Sea Salt. The custard was like velvet and while I said I would NOT eat all of it, I did. So did everyone at my table. The compliment of maple syrup with the flaky sea salt, local figs and delectable cookies (made by Nick’s wife, Marissa) was too die for. We washed it down with the 2015 Unorthodox which again, was the perfect match.
I can’t say enough about Chef Guantone and his crew! This guy truly gets fine food, sourcing quality products, pairing dishes with the appropriate wine…and basically putting on a show. Lodi residents and visitors will be seeing a LOT more of this rock star in the coming months! I would be remiss if I didn’t talk a little more about Riaza Winery. Owners Rick and Erin Taylor are making waves with their limited production, quality wines. At around 1,600 cases annually, their wines are a perfect reflection of Lodi’s ability to grow diverse varietals amongst its seven, sub AVA’s. I applaud their enthusiasm and commitment to sourcing local, quality grapes from Lodi. Don’t forget to check out Riaza’s website and social media pages for the inside scoop on their upcoming events! And I would definitely keep on the lookout for their next Winemaker Dinner.
Until next time friends!
The Fine Foodie Philanthropist
Anyone else ever wonder when life is going to slow down a bit? Well, I can assure you, in Lodi, it isn’t going to be in May. It’s so crazy I’m terming it May Madness! There are just SO many exciting things happening in Lodi […]