Bokisch Vineyards – Lodi Spanish Varietals

The Thursday night tasting at Fine Wines of Stockton featured Bokisch Vineyards of Lodi. Liz and Markus Bokisch poured their wines and gave us all kinds of information about their winery, their growing practices and about the origin of their vines.

Markus’ mother is from Spain and his father from Germany. Markus spent lots of time in Spain as a child and grew up with an appreciation of many Spanish varietals. He and Liz have worked in the wine industry in Napa and in Spain. Eventually, Liz and Markus settled in the Lodi area, at least in part because it reminded him of the Ebro River delta in Spain where he spent so much time.

In 1996 they planted Chardonnay and Syrah. In 1999 they planted Spanish varietals from a heterogenous collection of cuttings brought from Spain. They planted “mother blocks” of Tempranillo, Graciano and Albariño. The cuttings were certified by UC Davis and made available to nurseries and other wine growers. More than 20 wineries grow Tempranillo from these original cuttings. Liz and Marcus produced their first vintage in 2001.

Markus explained the importance of the depleted and very ancient soils of the Borden Ranch and Clements Hills Lodi AVAs. Albariño, Garnacha and Monastrell in particular prefer this depleted soil type. They also farm grapes in the Mokelumne River and Jahant AVAs.

All of the Bokisch Vineyard wines reflect the character of the fruit with judicious use of oak in the red varietals. The white wines are all stainless steel fermented and do not go through malolactic fermentation. Marcus has determined the optimum pH or sugar levels at which to pick each varietal. None of these wines are over ripe. All have good acid and are very food friendly wines. Oh, and they all drink very nicely without food as well!

2011 Bokisch Vineyards Albariño – Terra Alta Vineyard. This varietal is native to northwest Spain (Galicia) and likes cool weather and granitic soil. They prune this varietal early so that it fruits early and can be picked early in the summer in order to keep its natural acidity. The flavors are citrus, melon and grapefruit. The nose reflects the flavors and of course it has great acidity.

2011 Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha Blanca – Luna Vista Vineyard. This varietal originates from Aragon in Spain. It too likes the granitic soil of the Borden Ranch AVA. A bit of Rousanne is blended in to prevent oxidation of this wine. Once again this wine exhibits great acidity with pear and citrus flavors.

2011 Bokisch Vineyards Rosado – Terra Alta Vineyard. This Spanish style rosé has a bit of Barbera blended into this vintage. It has great acidity and a medium body with berry flavors.

2010 Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha – Terra Alta Vineyard. A bit of Monastrell is added to this vintage for its beautiful color. The nose is a combination of floral and spice. Flavors are complex with dark fruit and smooth tannins. This wine is aged 18 months in American and French oak (70% neutral oak, 30% Cote d’Rhone)

2010 Bokisch Vineyards Monastrell – Belle Colline Vineyard. Liz and Marcus do not make this wine every year. This wine is made in the classic Spanish style. It has ripe complex fruit flavors, smooth tannins and is drinking well now. Also known as Mourvèdre or Mataró, this grape is grown all over the world. Most notably it is grown in the Rhone, Provence, and Spain. The grape was probably introduced to Catalonia by the Phoenicians. Cucamonga in southern California and Oakley in northern California also have large plantings of this varietal. The grape thrives in both areas.

2010 Bokisch Vineyards Tempranillo – Liberty Oaks and Las Cerezas Vineyards. This Tempranillo is grown in the Jahant and Mokelumne River AVAs. Marcus picks these grapes by pH, not sugar, to prevent the wine from becoming flabby (lacking in structure and acidity). This Tempranillo is not flabby. It has dark fruit flavors, good acid and those wonderful tannins characteristic of Tempranillo. This wine earned 93 points from Wine Enthusiast.

2010 Bokisch Vineyards Graciano – Las Cerezas and Terra Alta Vineyards. This Spanish varietal is grown primarily in Rioja where it is used as a blending grape with Tempranillo or Garnacha. It lends lots of its characteristic violet-blue color to the blend. Graciano ripens in late October (Liz and Marcus harvested their Graciano three weeks ago). It is a grape that does not graft well and was all but abandoned in Europe. For Liz and Marcus, their Graciano has come into its own within the past 5 years. This wine has great color, complex flavors of black berries, good acid and well integrated tannins.

Not only were we treated to a tasting of excellent wines, Liz and Marcus are a wealth of information on climate, soil types, history and grape growing. They farm 2000 acres of grapes, most of which they sell to other wine makers. It is very likely you will see the Bokisch name as the source of any of the varietals we tasted here. In fact, when we were wine tasting at Dos Cabezas Wineworks in Sonoita, south of Tucson last year, we noticed the Bokisch name as a source for Graciano, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah in the Dos Cabezas Cades.

Thanks to Liz and Marcus for an interesting evening!

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