zinfestLodi Zin Fest – Part 1 – The Winemakers dinner
This is a three-part series on the wine and festivities of the Lodi Zinfest.

by Haydn S. Adams | Beyond Napa Valley Wine Blog
May 17th, 2009

The winemakers dinner at the Lodi Zinfest, was held on May 15th in Lodi, California. According to the advertising, we were to experience the top 12 Zins of Lodi. In addition, I was told that the food at the dinner was “barbecued wine country cuisine”. Thankfully the wines held up because the “barbecue” did not.

It turned out that the second wine that I had at the dinner (out of about 10 or so, a few non-Zins) was to be one of my favorites. The m2 Zinfandel was a true gem with a bit of strawberries and deep blackberries and a touch of black pepper. According to the winemaker it’s a “velvet elvis”. The m2 “artist series” Zin was also featured but it lacked in structure. A tan thinner than I would have come to expect. I was happy they didn’t use “reserve” on the bottle. I rated the m2 ‘artist series’ an 88 and gave the other Zin 90pts.

zinfest-winemakers-dinnerThere were a few other shining gems, including a wine that was dry farmed, and appeared to mimic the look of Petite Sirah (it was literally staining my glass), one that topped the alcohol charts at 15.9% and others that were just textbook Zinfandel. Overall, I was happy with what was coming out of Lodi. While they did lack the overall complexity as you would find in a few Dry Creek Zins (Zinfandel capital of the world), they were overall very satisfying.

It was also a pleasure to talk with the wine makers who were literally at arms distance as I was critiquing the wines. After the initial wine tasting round, we found our seats (thanks in part to vinvillage.com), and continued to pour a few more glasses and awaited the “barbecued” food.

Unfortunately the “barbecued” food was nothing more than over-grilled chicken and steak on skewers. No finger-lickin good sauce dripping from the meat. No, “pass me some more napkins”. Just plain ‘ole chicken. It was a bit of a disappointment because the peppery, fruit forward and strong Zins would have been awesome with some KC masterpiece sauce, and maybe a few ribs.

While, the food was average, the impromptu balloons were anything but. I’m not sure who had the smarts to pull this off, but my hat goes off to whomever who did. Imagine a room with a few hundred guests, some of them wine makers and vintners, and then introduce a few big purple balloons into the mix. Complete that with white shirts and filled wine glasses of red wine, and you’ve got a party.

Overall a very fun experience. I met a few wonderful vintners (coming up in my next article) and learned a great deal about Lodi wine.