We had a really fun and interesting Thursday night wine tasting this week. One of our local wineries, Bokisch Vineyards, came and poured several of their wines. Bokisch Vineyards specializes in Spanish varietals in a California style. Not the big jammy style some people equate with wines from the Lodi area but certainly with a nice amount of fruit and flavor. Liz Bokisch presented the wines and told us how she and her husband became interested in Spanish wines. Markus Bokisch’s mother was Spanish and passed on her love of the country. After he graduated from U.C. Davis he worked at Joseph Phelps winery for a couple of years and then he and Liz moved to Catalonia where he worked for a winery and then a vineyard management company.
When they returned from Spain they bought some land in the Clements Hills in the Lodi Viticultural Area. The first grapes they planted were Albarino, Tempranillo and Graciano. Later as they acquired more land they planted more varietals and now produce eight different Spanish varietals. They farm organically and use solar power to provide electricity for their irrigation pumps. They are certified by the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Wine-growing Practices. They are also members of TAPAS, the Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society which sounds like a pretty fun group.
Liz told us about each wine as it was poured. Where they started with the wine, where it is grown and how they prune, harvest and vinify the wine. In addition, many of the varietals they grow, they sell to other wine makers. They manage blocks of those vineyards per the buyers requirements. Vineyard management is also a significant portion of their operation.
2009 Garnacha Blanca Vista Luna Vineyards – Don’t confuse this with a white wine made from red grapes like a white Zinfandel. Grenache Blanc is a separate but related varietal from red Grenache. The color was very light yellow. The nose was floral with a hint of mint. The flavors followed the floral notes with tropical flavors and good acid. This wine has a very round mouth feel, unusual for a white, and a long finish. Liz said based on early tasting, the 2010 will have a bit more acid and no residual sugar.
2009 Albarino Terra Alta Vineyards – this grape is common to the Galicia region on the Portuguese border with Spain. It is a thick skinned grape that grows well in a wet climate and produces small tight clusters. Bokisch grows this varietal in three appellations, Mokelumne River, Clements Hills and Borden Ranch. The color was light yellow. The nose was floral. The flavors were less complex than the Garanache Blanca with flavors of green apple and minerality. The mouth feel was less round with a crisp, slightly bitter finish.
2008 Garnacha Terra Alta Vineyards – This varietal produces big clusters of large berries. They are smaller and produce darker flavors in Spain. A bit of Graciano is blended with the Garnacha. The color was a light garnet. There was light smokiness on the nose with fruit. Flavors were complex with smoke, cherries, berries, black pepper and vanilla. The tannins were mild to moderate with good acid and a long finish with a bit of heat.
2008 Monastrell Belle Colline Vineyard – this varietal is also known as Mourvedre in France but came from Spain originally. The color was a medium garnet. The nose of cooked sugar, smoke, dark fruit became minty over time. Flavors of tart fruit and smoke were accompanied by a moderate amount of tannins and lots of acid with a short finish. Flavors of vanilla and spice developed over time as the wine warmed up.
2008 Tempranillo Liberty Oaks Vineyard– The color was garnet with spice and dark fruit on the nose. Complex flavors followed the nose with spice, dark fruit and vanilla. Tannins were moderate and acid was good. The Monastrell and Tempranillo received similar barrel aging with 16 months in neutral French oak (40% new oak).
2008 Graciano Las Cerazas Vineyards – this grape is difficult to grow and for that reason it almost became extinct in Spain. The color was dark ruby. The nose was closed initially, but slightly fruity with mint coming out over time. Flavors tasted of dark fruit, spice and vanilla. The tannins were moderate with good acid.
All of these wines were very well made and not overly ripe or extracted like some Lodi area wines. LIz is very knowledgeable about every aspect of the grape growing and wine production at Bokisch. It was so nice to hear her speak energetically about the growing and production of their wines. Everyone had a great time and I saw a lot of wine heading out the door at the end of the evening.