Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Swirl and Sip Oak Farm Zin, Savor Chicken Wings and Rib Nuggets

Lodi, which lies between the San Francisco Bay and Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, is the Zinfandel capital of the world. Drinking Zins from Lodi is a no brainer as this grape puts Lodi on the map. Among one of the most reputable Zin producers in Lodi, Oak Farm has been producing high-quality Zin at an incredible price year after year. The fruit of the 2017 Oak Farm Zinfandel mainly comes from Hohenrieder Vineyard’s old vines planted back in 1958 and the new vines in Oak Farm. The dynamics resulting from sourcing grapes from different vineyards is an award-winning flavor that highlights the aromas of earthy eucalyptus and cedar and is rounded with an elegant mouthfeel of dark fruit and hints of vanilla notes. Pairing options for this Oak Farm Zin are limitless – could be poultry, red meat, smoked cheese, gamier meat like venison. Effortlessly, I oven-baked some dark soya marinated chicken wings and Gochujang (Korean chili paste) pork rib nuggets. Oh boy! Swirl and sip this Zin, savor every bite of the finger-licking goodness - satisfaction guarantee!
Dan Panella - 3rd Generation Grower of Oak Farm, Lodi, California
I met Dan Panella, the third generation grower of Oak Farm Vineyards, in the New York City Wines and Spirits Trade Show back in May 2019. Being the only vineyard flew in from Lodi, his table was crowded by Zin lovers like myself who kept going back for a repeat tasting. His family arrived at Lodi back in 1936 and started an agricultural journey that ultimately led them to the purchase of Oak Farm in 2004. Dan undertook the task of replanting the property’s 60 acres of vineyards in 2012 and leads a talented team of agricultural specialists to build a diverse wine portfolio using the selected grapes from its own estate and other vineyards.
Photo Credit: Winecountry.com
The Lodi Appellation has a typical Mediterranean climate benefitting from the contrast of warm days and cool evenings.  While the long stretch of the warm sun during the day provides the plant time to absorb enough nutrients, the cool breezes from the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta supply the region with a consistent, natural air conditioning throughout the growing season. This perfect climate allows Lodi winegrowers to craft a diverse portfolio of delicious big-flavored wines that display a natural acidity.
Photo Credit: winefolly.com
Receiving around 17 inches of annual rainfall during the winter months, the relatively dry winter does help reduce pest and disease problems affecting the vines and precisely control the vine growth through careful irrigation management. This unique combination allows Lodi grapes to reach ripeness with minimal intervention on the land. Lodi’s diverse soils were formed thousands of years ago through geological events and alluvial waters fed by the Mokelumne and Cosumnes Rivers, forming soils that are rich in granite. This explains the complex flavors and minerality of the wines in Lodi. Most of Lodi’s century-old Zinfandel vineyards are located along the banks of the Mokelumne River.  This area is famed for producing fruit-driven wines with a rich silky texture.

2017 Oak Farm Zinfandel (SRP $20) – Earthy, Rich, Bright in Acidity Smoky, Structured Finish
This Zin is by far the easiest wine to pair with roasted or BBQ meats. Its light touch of vanilla notes resulting from the ageing both in New French and American oak barrels gives this wine the rich mouthfeel that’s impeccable with non-saucy ways of cooking meat. While the chicken wings were marinated in dark soya sauce, the rib nuggets were marinated in a little bit of the diluted Gochujang paste and soya sauce. Gochujang is a savory, sweet, and spicy fermented condiment made from chili powder, glutinous rice, meju powder, and salt. Go light on it if you can't take too much spicy food. The marination is key to help develop the deep, savory flavors in the meat. The Zin has a delicate balance that’s not too tannic yet earthy – just a complex but approachable wine that you can’t go wrong with it. 
Disclaimer: the wine is a sample. The ideas of the pairing are mines.

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