My first trip to Lodi was, unfortunately for a business trip. So I didn’t see too much besides the inside of a conference room. But I did make time to explore the humble downtown area — luckily because several folks recommended I try McCay Cellars. While many wineries are closed mid-week, which is when I found myself wandering around town, McCay was very much open and staffed with the kindest hostess willing to play along and entertain this wine nerd. She provided me with comparative vineyard and vintage tastings, barrel samples, and a few “off menu” items. But what I walked away with — what I had to walk away with was this Grenache from Lodi’s Abba Vineyard.

About the Wine: The McCay Cellars 2014 Abba Vineyard Grenache is made from 100% Grenache grapes harvested from Abba Vineyards located in Lodi, California. This vineyard is a north-eastern facing vineyard, in a “cooler” portion of the Lodi region. The wine was aged in neutral oak and underwent all native fermentation.

13.8% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork on the McCay Cellars 2014 Abba Vineyard Grenache and breathe in beautiful but dark aromas of black cherries, dirt, earth, and muddy waters. The wine presents a light rouge on the pour, a rouge you can see right through, and includes a tint of orange as well. In the glass, it is exactly that same color, with that orange hue taking over a large ring around the perimeter, ultimately fading into a near clarity.

Initial aromas are of black cherry, a hint of mocha, a whiff of bourbon, maple, and smoke. Swirl, and the Grenache releases more fruits — that black cherry as well as boysenberry — in an almost jammy way. There’s a dusty earthiness solidly in the background, reminiscent of a desert-like bramble. The palate of the McCay Cellars 2014 Abba Vineyard Grenache is smooth. It’s simultaneously full — full of dark flavors and aromatics — but light in body, maintaining an open palate from start to finish. There’s a wonderful red spice sensation that rides through the center throughout the tasting. Tannins here, though present, are light, only working as one piece to this wine puzzle.

Dominant flavors are of currants dates, molasses, burnt mocha, bramble, cherry cordial, fig, and red spice. For all the intensity that these flavors connote, this is 100% a low-key, light-bodied, easy sipper.

Food Pairing: I paired the McCay Cellars 2014 Abba Vineyard Grenache with grilled lamb skewers on top of my Mediterranean quinoa salad. Loved this pairing. A near perfect pairing. The sweetness and acidity of the tomato brough out the juiciness and the freshness of the fruit flavors in the wine — eliminating some of that darkness. Meanwhile the saltiness of the lamb brought out that dusty earthiness — that I found a beautiful component to this wine: an elegant rusticity, if you will. And the innate gamey-ness and fattiness of the lamb played quite nicely with the texture of the wine, actually producing a bit more of a textural sensation on the palate compared to when sipping alone.

More Info: I purchased the McCay Cellars 2014 Abba Vineyard Grenache at the McCay Cellars tasting room in downtown Lodi, California. Price: $35. For more information about McCay Cellars, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the McCay Cellars website.

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