Standards: Lodi Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel for an easy midweek meal

“Broken Vine” Lodi Zinfandel

“Honey, can you stop by Ferraros and get some meat sauce?”

When there’s just a little too much going on and you need an easy midweek meal and a glass of wine, what’s your standard response?

That’s the theme for this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend: “My Old Stand By.”

For me, that’s when I call my spouse, or he calls me, and says, “Put the pasta water on!” and we pick up either fresh pesto from Trader Joe’s or meat sauce from our favorite local Italian restaurant, Ferraros, and sometimes both! The person at home throws together either a caesar salad (do a three minute boil on the eggs in the pasta water! surprisingly easy!) or a green salad with Sue’s Simple Gorgonzola Dressing, and we have a delicious, inexpensive dinner in less time than it would take to go out and with only a very few dishes.

The key of course, is to have good quality sauce and pasta plus the right wine! And for us, another standard is to eat and drink as sustainably and organically as possible, something that we care about every day, but we will be pointing out this month because

April is Earth Month and April 22 is Earth Day. 

Caesar Salad and pasta with pesto? Pair with a Sauvignon Blanc like this sustainable one from Oak Farm in Lodi

For me, I have one standard when it comes to caesar salad and pasta with pesto: Sauvignon Blanc.

And I have one standard for pasta with meat sauce and even a green salad with lots of garlicky Gorgonzola dressing: Zinfandel. And who you gonna call when you need some Zinfandel? LODI! 

Speaking of standards, recently, I was invited to participate in a “Lodi Rules” tasting of four wines from Lodi and to learn more about their ground-breaking sustainable wine growing program established in 1992.

From vine to wine, these wine grape growers are promoting responsible farming for a sustainable planet by paying attention to and taking care of soil, water, air, and people.  The Lodi Rules program proudly supports farmers, vintners, and the community. Farmers who follow the 100 or so “Lodi Rules” in the sustainable wine growing program are then certified green and can advertise their membership on their bottles and website.

While in 2016 over 36,400 winegrape acres are “Certified Green” in California, in the Lodi region, nearly 24,000 acres are certified. That’s a substantial percentage and testifies to the success and the importance of the program. See the list of growers here.

The Lodi Rules program provides standards to measure for certification, a process that is rigorous, based in science, voluntary, and third-party audited.  All Standards have been peer-reviewed by world-renowned third-party scientists, members of the academic community, and environmental organizations. These Standards:

  • were collaboratively developed by a team of Lodi winegrape growers and viticulture professionals
  • were first accredited by Protected Harvest in 2005
  • are organized into six Chapters: 1) Business Management, 2) Human Resources Management, 3) Ecosystem Management, 4) Soil Management, 5) Water Management, and 6) Pest Management
  • are measurable, address at least one of the three aspects of sustainability (environmental health, social equity, and economic viability); and are economically feasible.

A key component of the Lodi Rules is about pesticides.  Pesticides are evaluated based on 1) acute risk to farm workers, 2) dietary risks from acute and chronic exposure to people who consume the product, 3) acute risks to small aquatic invertebrates, 4) acute risk to birds, and 5) acute risk to bees and pests’ natural enemies. Pesticide use by Lodi Rules certified growers must fall below a certain impact for the season which allows the program to be rigorous but also adaptable to the needs of the growers.

Simply being organic isn’t always the solution.

Look for these Lodi wines made from Lodi Rules Certified Green grapes.

Purchase Lodi Rules Certified Grapes online from the Lodi Wine Commission Store here.

setting up the Lodi Rules wine tasting; photo of Wine Predator by Dora

Often people think of wines that have been certified as certifiably not as good, perhaps a bit bland and non-descript, and certainly, certifiably more expensive for a wine that isn’t certifiable better.

Well I’m here to tell you that while that may have been true in the past, and may be true of some wines, the four we tasted for the Lodi Rules event were exceptions to that unfortunately common and incorrect thinking. All four were impressive in their own way, and offered amazing quality for the price.

Oak Farm Sauvignon Blanc 2016 SRP $20 13 alcohol

Helen remarked that this Sauvignon Blanc from Oak Farm took her on interesting journeys on her palate and in her imagination. Typically a oaky chardonnay lover, Helen was quite surprised and taken with this refined and elegant Sauvignon Blanc that offers enough citrus intensity to go toe-to-toe with my very garlicky and lemony version of a ceasar salad with lots of anchovies.

It was also, as Helen said, “super awesome” with Boursin garlic and herb cheese as well as both the plain goat cheese and the garlic, herb, tomato goat cheese.

Goat cheese + sourdough bread + sauvignon blanc = heaven!

We three agreed that the Oak Farm Sauvignon Blanc offers very nice quality for the price; while often sustainable means more expensive but not better, this wine is an affordable pleasure at $20 a bottle SRP.

More subtle flavors to allow the wine to shine: we had mixed warm olives with harissa spices and citrus rind, and the black olives were a better match. The pesto also brought out an interesting black pepper characteristic.

We also found that we enjoyed the wine as it warmed up: often sauvignon blanc is served bracingly cold.  This would make it a great wine for a picnic: bread, goat cheese, add the cesar dressing just before you eat, and do a pesto pasta salad with black olives and sundried tomatoes.

PS This salad and pasta was also awesome with the Albarino which also knocked Helen’s socks off! She’d never had Albarino before! And now, well, the world of wine is  a much bigger place for her!

Michael Klouda Broken Vine Zinfandel 2014 Lodi 14% alcohol $25 SRP

In color, a very pretty burgundy, lighter than you might expect. On the nose, plentiful fragrant berries– blue, black, raspberry– and spice which carries through to the palate.

While there’s plenty of fresh juicy berry on the palate, this is NOT your typical overly ripe, overly fruity over the top medium or heavier bodied Zinfandel. Instead juicy but with some acidity, and a medium to light body similar to the body and character of a pinot noir than a syrah or cabernet. We were intrigued by some charcoal and graphite on the finish.

This was not the rich, jammy Zin that Helen yearned for or expected, but I certainly appreciated this leaner more austere, quiet, subtle, and elegant style.

Broken Vine: a zen zin

A quick aside: the Cabernet Franc! Oh the Cabernet Franc! Earthy, not vegetal with a cocoa finish! Helen, Dora, my husband and I all swooned over this $35 beauty!

Note: These wines were sent for my review consideration. 

Join us! We will be on twitter chatting Sat. 4/8 from 8-9am using the hashtag #WinePW. And go see what everyone has as their standard standby go to wine!

7 thoughts on “Standards: Lodi Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel for an easy midweek meal

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