Lying due east of San Francisco, the Lodi region has long been a bit of a secret source for drinkers in the Golden State. The sandy soils and cool bay breezes that dominate the vineyards here allow Lodi to produce full, balanced, ripe Zinfandels that deliver lots of fruit without getting overly heavy or over the top. A great region to look toward for value.

2008 Harney Lane Lodi Zinfandel, 15.5%
Smoky, toasty and intense with floral/herbal background notes laid over a core of salty plum fruit. Big in the mouth with a rather smooth feel, very polished and easy to drink with its gentle vanilla and grilled meat nuances accenting the core of lightly spicy plum, boysenberry and date fruit. This is really fairly big and intense with lots of depth emerging over time. The tannins are firm but for the most live beneath the robe of dark fruit, emerging briefly on the moderately long finish, which has a nice core of sweet fruit. 89pts

2008 Three Wine Co. Lodi Zinfandel Old Vines, 14.8%
A bit oaky but also earthy and even a bit almondy with a little funky leathery underlay adding complexity to the cherry and red plum fruit, with some smoky, oily top notes. A little compressed in the mouth as the fruit is bound up in youthful tannin and acid but it’s decidedly cherry fruited with that gentle nuttiness from the nose present. Nice purity here, rich but not weighty, though the finish is short. The wine is a bit simple, though it seems, as it might just need some time to unfold. It’s no blockbuster but a nice glass of Zin with a finish that sneaks back on you. 89pts

2009 Gnarly Head Lodi Zinfandel Old Vine, 14.5%
Sweet and spicy with strawberry jam fruit framed with toast, herb, and anise seed notes. Air gives this a decidedly darker sheen, revealing more toasty oak and dark, oily spice notes. Very smooth on entry, a little soft, with an easy to appreciate, slightly creamy mid-palate. The fruit is fresh and full of red currant and cherry notes underplayed with gentle spice tones. Creamy vanilla-laced cherry dominates the modest finish with a nice gentle spice tone on the finale. I would like to see a bit more brightness here but this is popularly styled. 87pts

2008 Brazin Lodi Zinfandel Old Vine, 15%
Briary nose with spicy, slightly notes and roasted black raspberry fruit framed with toast and coffee notes. Big and pretty fruit-driven right on entry, with noticeable alcohol and extract. This is a big wine for lovers of big wines. The flavors are rich and fresh: cherry fruit with wood spice and some herbal accents over a light underlay of vanilla. The alcohol also shows on the modest finish. 86pts

2008 Langetwins Lodi Zinfandel Estate Grown, 14.8%
Chocolate milk with marshmallows on the nose with some raspberry underpinnings. Pretty rich in the mouth with tannins that are touch tough and some nicely assertive acidity, lending this a slight rustic feel, which suits the wine well. The fruit is fresh, with zesty acidity supporting raspberry fruit and toasty oak notes. The finish is a touch sticky and slightly disjointed, showing some heat on the finale. 84pts

2006 Z-52 Lodi Zinfandel Agnes Vineyard Old Vine, 14.5%
Sweet and quite ripe on the nose, with slightly syrupy notes of candied strawberry and cherry, backed up with toasty wood notes and some rather raw wood and green herb aromas emerging with air. Has a bit of astringent tannin through the mouth though there’s nice freshening acidity here as well. It’s really disjointed with everything sort of sticking out, served up on a cedar shingle. Tannic and drying on the short finish. 80pts