Phoenix Ranch Wines Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault 2009
Positioned between the San Francisco Bay and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Lodi appellation, while relatively far inland, is able to maintain a classic Mediterranean climate featuring warm, sunny days and cool evenings. This is because the appellation is uniquely situated at the end of the Sacramento River Delta, which brings chilly, afternoon “delta breezes” to the area during the growing season.
Lodi is a premier source of 100+ year old ancient Zinfandel vineyards—some dating back as far as 1888! With low yields of small berries, these heritage vines produce complex and bold wines, concentrated in rich and voluptuous, dark fruit.
But Lodi doesn’t just produce Zinfandel; in fact, the appellation produces high quality wines from over 100 different grape varieties. Among them are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc as well as some of California's more rare and unique grapes. Lodi is recognized as an ideal spot for growing Spanish varieties like Albarino and Tempranillo, Portugese varieties—namely Touriga Nacional—as well as many German, Italian and French varieties.
Soil types vary widely among Lodi’s seven sub-appellations (Cosumnes River, Alta Mesa, Deer Creek Hills, Borden Ranch, Jahant, Clements Hills and Mokelumne River). The eastern hills are clay-based and rocky and in the west, along the Mokelumne and Cosumnes Rivers, sandy and mineral-heavy soils support the majority of Lodi’s century-old own-rooted Zinfandel vineyards. Unique to Lodi are pink Rocklin-Jahant loam soils, mainly found in the Jahant sub-appellation.
A charmer in the Rhône Valley, Cinsault offers up generous peppery and floral aromas and ripe strawberry flavors to its blends. It actually has been grown for centuries in the Languedoc and is a popular blending grape in most appellations of the southern Rhône as well as other parts of the southern France.
Cinsault thrives in any hot and windy climate, and finds success in many other countries, namely California, Chile, Corsica, Lebanon, northern Africa and is a parent grape alongside Pinot noir, of South Africa’s acclaimed red grape, Pinotage.
In the Glass
Though a minor portion of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, it plays an important role adding softness, lift, spice and an almost electric red fruit to blends. Southern France also makes some delightful Cinsault dominant rosés. On its own, it is supple, fresh and fruity with a hint of pepper or baking spice.
Cinsault pairs well with stews, gamey meats, rosemary chicken and roasted duck or winter squash.
Given its relatively long history in California, Cinsualt is often “hidden” in the Zinfandel blends of Sonoma and Contra Costa Counties. Historically planted alongside Zinfandel and other grapes, such as Petite Sirah or Mourvedre in the same vineyard, Cinsault is now an essential part of these so-called “field blends.”