Back in the early seventies some of my first California wine experiences began in Lodi because back then I was stationed at Castle AFB. At that point in time almost all the grapes from the region went to the Gallo, Rossi or Mondavi family. The region now is home to high quality wines made by fourth and fifth generation winegrowers and it is really no surprise. The area has always been able to produce quality; just back then quantity was the name of the game.
On a recent trip to judge the California State Fair home winemaking competition, I was fortunate enough to be reintroduced to the region by Mark Chandler the Executive Director of the Lodi – Woodbridge Winegrape Commission and what a fantastic job he and his staff did. The day culminated with a paella dinner that was probably the best paella I have ever been served.
I was first introduced to Harney Lane wines during dinner at the home of Robert Perry (Culinarian, Viticulturist, Olive Oil Producer and Host extraordinaire) where he and Jonathan Wetmore (Culinarian, Vineyard Manager and Winemaker) made the previously mentioned Paella, again it was phenomenal.
I was curious about the rest of the wines he makes that were not served at the dinner. Even though I had been on a journey for three days where I tasted wine while being hosted by one of Napa’s top producers, judged a wine competition and was hosted on a tour of Lodi’s wineries, I opted to stay one more day just so I could go to Harney Lane and find out if my investigative gut feeling was correct.
Yes it was. The night before at the dinner I could tell the owner /winemaker Kyle Lerner was not keen on being confronted about organic and or biodynamic farming, yet he defended and showcased a spirit that I did not hear any other Lodi vintner express.
He did point out his family had stewarded the property for over four generations sighting that fact as sustainable proof and actually very hard to argue with. The difference in his message was not to compare but dare to say we are Lodi and we are better and when it comes to his wines, he is 100% correct.
This Petite Sirah will rival any produced anywhere. Thick chewy and dense are the first impressions of this wine, yet sophisticated and well balanced bringing harmony and contentment on the first taste.
The aromas are awash with the smell of overripe blackberries on a dusty road mingled with the vanilla a good American oak barrel can lend to a great bottle of wine. The mouth filling texture of velvet sets your senses for the attack of dark berry chocolate and cardamom that come across on the palate.
The intense long finish is true to the varietal rounding out this top-notch wine. Get some before it’s gone because it will not be around long. If you are headed south and find yourself on I-5 south of Sacramento check out Lodi and all the great wineries there to be discovered. ~Marc Hinton
Rating: 92 | $24 | 14.7% ABV