Friday, February 16, 2007
Ay! Que Vinas!
For my first post since late summer, I thought I'd introduce you to some wines new to the area - Bokisch Vineyards. I have to thank my friend, former colleague, and proprietor of PinoVino, Mike Taylor, for telling me about them six months ago. He attends the California Family Wine Association event every year (I think that's what it's called) and tried them there. I've been trying to get my greedy hands on them ever since, and we were the first place in the area to get our hands on them this week.
Markus Bokisch grows Spanish grapes in Lodi, California. I haven't seen many other producers making these grapes, with the exception of Garnacha (read Grenache) and certainly none doing it with this degree of success. Here they are:
2005 Bokisch Albarino Lodi ($17)
Anyone who's tried Albarino knows they are stylish, layered, complex and fascinating wines if you want them to be, but who cares when they bring so much pleasure? This wine puts the adult in adulterated.
Honey gold in color, the Bokisch Albarino had considerably more depth than its Spanish counterpart. It's rounder and richer and more laden with peach, apricot and a hint of caramel. It's dry, with sufficient acidity to balance the fruit. More importantly, it retains that mystical, paradoxical thing I love about Albarino - it's a wine that's both light and silky. It fills every corner of your mouth but is almost nonexistent on the palate.
There are only 340 cases.
2004 Boksich Tempranillo Lodi ($22)
Tempranillo is the signature grape of Rioja, Spain, where it's a wine rich with earthiness, tannin, cherries, cocoa and vanilla. The Lodi version is the Barry Bonds version of the wine - more juice, more muscle, more fruit and even more tannin. Black raspberry, dust, espresso aromas rise out of the glass, followed by black cherry fruit, herbal notes and a long, dark chocolate finish. There's plenty of earthiness like you get in Spanish Tempranillo, but again, Bokisch has taken pains to give it a California sensibility. The wine has plenty of tannin, but it's smoothly integrated.
The production is 330 cases.
2005 Bokisch Garnacha Lodi ($19)
Markus Bokisch has figured out precisely how to position Garnacha as a California wine. In Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache is rich, red fruit bounded by white pepper. In Spain's cooler climate, there's red fruit galore, but the acidity and minerality are more apparent. Markus' Garnacha has a style all its own - from the ruby slipper color to the scents of creme de cerise (cherry liqueur to you and me), olive and white pepper to the abundant, creamy strawberry and raspberry flavors, this is clearly a California wine. It's in no way jammy, flamboyant and campy the way some Cali wines get. Why? Thank the tannins.
It'll evaporate soon, though - only 150 cases made.
2004 Bokisch Graciano Lodi ($27)
Graciano is pretty much used only as a blending grape in Rioja. If Bokisch is any indication, the grape's sidekick days are over. Its purple/black color reminded me of silk used to make saris - black when the light hits it from one direction and as you rotate the glass, deep violet slowly seeps in and eventually dominates. With aromas of black plum, raisin. black currant and espeically blueberry. The black currant and blueberry fruit shine through in the flavors, complemented sweetly by mossy earth notes and wood smoke. With all this fruit, you'd think it might be too jammy. It's not. Just enough acidity and considerable structure completely balance the wine.
I can't say too much about how much I like this wine, so the last thing I'm going to say about it is - there are only 250 cases of it.
More next week! It's great to be back!