|Vineyard manager Kevin Phillips in the 127-year-old Bechthold Vineyard in Lodi|
Until last week, I always had a hard time writing about Lodi. I'm not alone: considering how much wine is made there, you don't read much about it.
The problem isn't that the wines are bad; that's not true at all. If you've ever had a California appellation wine, particularly red, that you liked, odds are good that many of the grapes came from Lodi.
The problem is that while usually competent, Lodi wines are rarely exciting, which may be because of fertile soil that's well-suited to volume. I like Uvaggio's Vermentino a lot because it's a balanced, dependable wine with some character, and that's the first Lodi wine that -- until last week -- springs to my mind. There are some Zinfandels from very old vineyards that are pretty good, although there's an ongoing tendency to hide them in blends or too much oak.