1st In A Series - LoCa: Wines of Lodi, California

Today we embark on a series looking into one of our country's under appreciated winegrowing regions: Lodi.  Odds are pretty good that you're familiar with the wines of Lodi, if not the name of the appellation.  Bogle, for example, sources bunches from Lodi.  McManis calls Lodi home.  Michael David, makers of the popular Earthquake, 7 Deadly Zins, and Petite Petit labels, also hail from Lodi.  And so does another perennial favorite, Klinker Brick.  Many, many other wineries near and far source grapes from this AVA, too.

So, what do these wineries all have in common?  Value.  Even if the name isn't terribly familiar to you yet, it's one to be on the lookout for.

In this series we'll cover some interesting facts about the region and take a closer look at a handful of wines which absolutely merit your attention.

Anyone familiar with Paso Robles will find a lot of similarities with the Lodi story.  Virtually unknown a decade or two ago, the pace of growth here has been blistering.  Since 1998, the number of wineries has skyrocketed from 10 to 75.  Located south of Sacramento, this sprawling area now produces more than Napa and Sonoma combined.  Sure, quantity isn't everything, but Lodi grows more than just plonk as you are about to discover.

Our first wine is an unusual one.  For starters, it's a variety you probably haven't had before...

(Full disclosure: Unless otherwise noted, all wines reviewed in this series were received as press samples)
2011 Uvaggio Vermentino Lodi $14
Vermentino is a virtually unknown variety here in the US, but anyone who has enjoyed a good Vermentino from Sardinia or the Italian mainland knows enough to appreciate it.  In its best incarnations its layered complexities can be moving, though it is more commonly an unsophisticated and cloying wine.  Uvaggio's version is the first I've seen of this grape grown in the US - and what a debut.  Crisp, fresh, and well balanced, there's something for everyone in this extremely well-rounded, elegant white.  But it  goes beyond crowd pleasing to demonstrate a truth and seriousness of quality that commands attention - and respect.  What an unbelievable value.