The AVA system in the US (and most New World countries) doesn’t have any restriction on wine varieties like the ones you’ll find with the appellation system in Europe. This is, of course, why the New World is considered so exciting and diverse – anything goes.
However appellations can also be a useful way to understand a wine region, or at least give you a starting point to know what to taste from that region.
While I was tasting Lodi wines on a visit during the Wine Blogger Conference, we tried Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Cinsault and Symphony among many other varieties. But most of all we tried Zinfandel.
It’s easy to get lost between hundreds of different Zins, but there was one collection of Zinfandel wines that particularly caught my attention: Lodi Native.
Lodi Native is a collection of six Zinfandel wines made from six different wine producers in six different vineyards. But, much like a European appellation, they all abide by some strict rules. The wines must be:
- Made from 100% Zinfandel from a single vineyard.
- Come from old vines (35 to over 100 years old).
- Only use native yeast in fermentation.
- Made without oak chips, dust, staves or new barrels. Only old barrels are permitted.
- Made without acid, water or alcohol correction, with no added tannins or colour.
- Unfiltered and unfined.
- And there are some other rules…
Of course, all of this doesn’t matter if the wines aren’t any good. However the Lodi Native wines I tried were great, and showed an interesting representation of the different vineyards. We hopped just 10km between two vineyards and the wines showed a different spectrum of fruit and spice flavours, while maintaining that truly Zin character.
Lodi is the US wine region with the most planted hectares of vineyards, and while there are many different wines to dip into – I think Lodi Native offers a good place to start.