This was my first experience with a rosé of Petite Sirah, and I’m so glad that it’s with Queen Theo-patra herself. Theodora describes this delicate take on a robust wine as “elegant,” “curvy,” and “feminine.” While I do agree, I can’t help but add that this curvaceous lady has a bit of a tom-boy streak. As beautiful as she is, she’s ready to get rough and tumble. Can you handle a woman with strength? Grab a glass and find out.
Theodora Lee, winemaker and proprietor of Theopolis Vineyards is one talented lady. Though she founded her winery in 2003, I’ve only just recently been able to taste what this hidden gem has to offer — and I can’t boast enough about the wine’s I’ve tried. Pinot Noirs from Mendocino are already a favorite of mine — I’ve had quite a few exquisite ones from Anderson Valley. (Try FourSight) But the nuances the Yorkville Highlands provides this malleable varietal are in a league of their own. And Theodora knows how to work with those nuances, creating a delicate — and dare I say feminine — beauty in the bottle.
A 100% Petite Sirah that’s friendly and approachable? Sign me up. When Theodora Lee sent me two vintages of Petite Sirah and a rosé of Petite Sirah, I knew I was in the hands of a PS expert. Until recently I’d been intimidated by the varietal whose very name seems to tease at its reality: There’s nothing petite about the flavors textures, or even aromas of a Petite Sirah. Or so I thought until I’d tried an expression from Theopolis’s neighboring vintner Halcón Vineyards. There’s something special about the tucked away AVA of Yorkville Highlands — and this refined, mature, yet full-of-life expression of Petite Sirah from Theopolis Vineyards just solidifies that fact.
My introduction to some of the over 100 varieties of wine grown in Lodi began at a Wine Bloggers Conference welcome dinner hosted at Acquiesce Winery, which only produces white wines from Rhône varieites. My second taste was the following morning at an Albarino breakfast (yes, you heard that right) at Bokisch Vineyards with the variety expressing beautiful citrus notes across bottlings from different vineyards and producers. Those who have the perception that Lodi only produces big red wines should take note.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of delightful red wines coming out of the region. During my stay I took a trip to Bechtold Vineyard and tasted the exotic Cinsault variety, which is often characterized as “Pinot Noir meets Zinfandel.” Today, famed wineries Turley Wine Cellars and Bonny Doon are among those sourcing grapes from the Lodi vineyard.
Of course, I tasted plenty of the region’s signature grape, Zinfandel, which is quite quaffable. But the wines that captured my attention were not the usual suspects.
We’ve all heard the saying, “great wine starts in the vineyard,” but what does that look like?
In Lodi, it’s evident in the big old gnarly vines that have been cared for by multiple generations and produce deeply concentrated fruit It’s visible at Bechtold Vineyard, the oldest known Cinsault vineyard in the world planted in 1886, where pheromone disruptors hang on the vines to control mealybugs. It’s demonstrated by the owl boxes posted in Bokisch Vineyards that house the birds that prevent pests from visiting the vines. It’s apparent when Lange Twins vineyards has a plane fly overhead taking pictures in order to provide the vineyard manager with heat maps as an aid in pest detection. Most of all, it’s very clear when hearing firsthand from vineyard managers and winemakers how much care they put into the vines.