Treasure Island Wine Adventure

While the Blue Angels streaked overhead on a sunny Indian Summer afternoon, Treasure Island sparkled with the reflection of hundreds of bottles of wine.

It was the 2010 Lodi Wine on the Water event featuring a cavalcade of tastes.

Blue Angels in Formation


Star of the wine show was zinfandel, the rambunctious red wine grape that Lodi is famous for. Supporting roles were played by  cabernet and two grapes that don’t normally get a lot of respect in California — carignane and alicante bouschet.

Forty-two wineries participated in the event, which coincided with the Fleet Week aerial manuevers by the famed Blue Angels. Quality was good across the board, but three zinfandels stood out from the pack.


My favorite wine was the 2007 Lucas ($35). This sleek red beauty is produced from a single organic 3.5-acre vineyard tended by Lodi veteran winemaker David Lucas. The zinfandel featured dark fruits and a sliver of tannins that showed a sophistication and balance achieved by few of its peers. The 70-year-old Zinstar vineyard is hand-harvested and nearly half the crop is thinned to give the gnarly, head pruned vines a better chance to produce exemplary berries. The wine rests in French oak barrels for more than year before bottling.

Klinker Brick

I liked the hint of strawberry fruit in the Klinker Brick 2008 old vine zinfandel, which is made from vineyards that are at least a half century old. You can taste a bit of sweet American oak in this wine and the rich red fruit coats the mouth with flavor. Yields were down in 2008, giving this wine a more concentrated feel than past vintages. The taste lingered for what seemed like minutes and left me craving another sip.

M2 Wines

The 2008 old vine zinfandel from M2 Wines is sourced from the 94-year-old Soucie vineyard, originally planted in 1916. It’s a deep, dark wine with intense black fruit and aromas of black cherries and blackberries mingled together. There is gobs of fruit in this wine but it’s not overpowering.


Lodi Wine on the Water Commemorative Bottle


What’s in a Name?

I don’t believe carignane, a grape generally used in blending in the Rhone Valley of France, gets a fair shake from many wine drinkers. Two examples from Lodi really show off the grape’s potential in the 2008 vintage.

From Jessie’s Grove Winery comes a majestic old vine carignane, sourced from two estate vineyards that are more than 100 years old. Blueberry highlights over a cedar edge come together in the glass with a flash of oak to form a delightful triumvirate of taste in this $32 bottle.

Done in a “smaller” style is the 2008 carignane from Heritage Oak Winery. In my tasting notes I wrote, “very nice little red wine.” It shows a bit of sharpness and acidity that endears this grape to winemakers looking to add more dimension to a blend. I wanted a slice of pizza in the worst way with this wine!

McConnell Estates

I’m always on the lookout for a great cabernet sauvignon at a good price and the McConnell Estate’s 2007 vintage from the Wackman Ranch vineyard hits both marks. This wine ($15.50) was aged for two years in French and American oak,. The wood doesn’t take center stage. It’s a comfortable backstop to the black fruit and currant flavors that roll over the tongue.

Touche’ for Alicante Bouschet

The alicante bouschet grape gets little respect outside of its traditional role as a blending grape used in small amounts to pump up color and power. Occasionally, someone makes an all-alicante wine that stands on its own merits. The 2006 vintage ($30) from Harmony Wynelands repeats the success of the winery’s sold-out 2005 vintage of this wine. This is a thick-skinned, hearty grape from which Harmony winemaker Chad Joseph coaxed some extraordinary smooth flavors.

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3 Responses to “Treasure Island Wine Adventure”

  1. Jon Bjork Says:

    Thanks for helping put Lodi back on the map, Frank!

  2. Says:

    good article,I like it

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