Van Ruiten Family Winery – focusing on the unsual
Ended the tasting day at Van Ruiten Family Winery. This is a quieter and homey property featuring quite a variety of wines, all estate. They also feature some grapes not being seen a lot in the Lodi area, such as Montepuliciano, Carignane, Barbera and Tempranello.
The winery was hopping, and for a bit only had the welcoming Tasting Room manager, Akalea, handling things.
Then it was fortunate the winemaker, Duane Dappen, stepped out of the back and he spent time talking with us. He was working on a batch of Syrah in the back!
The wines, like Klinker Brick, tended to the red fruit, and also uncomplicated, as Duane indicated was their stylistic preference. They try to let “each grape flavor feature shine without changing nature”.
WINES TRIED, yet there were at least 2x more that we didn’t sample:
1). Sparkling Cuvee — light sparkling, featuring stone fruit with apricot flavor. A little bit sweeter. Not a stand-out, but a great summer patio sipper.
2). The Double Barrel Chardonnay was something I wanted to try. I learned the name means “both barrels” of oak and and ML (full malactic acid was allowed). It featured pear flavors with a creamy mouth feel. Very nice flavors, yet there was an earthy aftertaste which we believed was probably the influence of American oak, yet they were too busy to get that question answered.3). The Carignane was planted in 1903. Great garnet color that’s see-through. The aroma was all red fruit. It waas very spicy, very bright, very cherry-like fruit, similiar to me of Italian table reds.
4). Barbera…. Also red fruit and very cherry with mild acidity. A sipper., light summery refreshing. Duane wants to work with this grape to feature is as a speciality of the winery.
5). The Sideways Zinfandel was not named after the movie. One year the winemaker said “the vineyard went sideways but then righted itself” and so they called it Sideways – then the movie came out. The wine features a lot of racy spice and it’s a good Zipper (Zippy Sipper) and also would go really well with grilled meats. Bright acidity and fruit forward.
6). Malbec, Garnet colored, rich mouthfeel and light tannin with a great rounded smooth flavor.
7). Tempranello… $40, Restrained tannins that keep gripping but lightly and not overpowering. The winemaker said it’s intentional and I asked how they did it. He says they restrain it by handling it gently and not pumping it too much. Creates a big wine with big tannins that are still drinkable and not overpowering, and ready for food. LIKED THIS. It also had low Alcohol heat. Slight earthy flavors that’s perfect for food oriented.
8). Petit Syrah, MY FAVORITE HERE. Duane said a “Petite Syrah grape tends not to be at all petite”. Blueberry is a predominant flavor. Great flavors pomegranate. Petit lost, Rhone grape called ‘Derif’. Dark dark color in big fruit and great with smokey meat.
The future they will try to stand out by focusing on the unusual Lodi grapes Barbera, Temperarilo, Petit Syrah. Trying to create elegant styles of that and having them stand out.