I’ve been told by those that knew my father well, that he’s rolling in his grave at the thought of St.Amant bottling a Cabernet Sauvignon. And not only are we releasing a Cab with this month’s wine club, but I went ahead and planted 10 acres of Cabernet in our Amador County vineyard two years ago. You have to realize my dad hated all things Cabernet. It wasn’t that it made bad wine, although there are plenty of bad versions, but to him it was overplayed and symbolized all that can be wrong with the wine business. So I’ve been told to take cover during thunder storms. But one thing I learned from my dad is that you need to set your own course in life and business, and not worry about what others will think. Including him!
In this month’s club selections you will find the 2012 Lloyd Martel Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. To me it’s a wine that transcends the variety, and connects me with my past, present, and future. Lloyd was one of my dad’s best friends, an ag teacher, and local winegrower. He was a pioneer in Lodi, planting one of the first Cabernet vineyards, and producing one of the first and finest vineyard-designated Lodi wines back in the early 80’s. For several decades Lloyd taught a wine appreciation class at our local community college where my parent’s first took his class in 1974, and I’m pretty certain well over half of the Lodi wine and grape community took his course over the years. Lloyd flunked my dad (he missed the final for work), but mom got an A. Lloyd was instrumental in planting the seeds of the artisan wine movement that’s blossoming in Lodi today.
He still meticulously farms that original Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard surrounding his house on the east side of Lodi. And when he learned that I was planting a Cab vineyard to the same high quality clone found in his, suggested we make a couple barrels of wine. It has been an incredible project and has produced a delicious wine. It has connected me with my past, present, and future in ways that are hard to describe, and reminded me once again that the best wines are the ones that tell stories.
This month’s club selections include two other wines; our 2012 Syrah, that without a doubt is our best Syrah ever, and the 2012 “Lodi Native” Marian’s Vineyard Zinfandel. The Lodi Native Zin is part of a collaborative project I undertook with five other local winemakers to shine the spotlight on some Lodi’s heritage Zinfandel vineyards. Each of us produced a few barrels using minimalist winemaking protocols that included native yeast fermentations, no new oak, water, acid, or any other conventional winemaking practices. The wines were designed to be a pure expression of the vineyard rather than varietal character or brand. It’s been a very rewarding project and the wines are receiving critical acclaim from wine writers across the country.