2020 Ironstone Vineyards Merlot, Lodi, California (Alcohol 14%, Residual Sugar 7 g/l) LCBO Vintages $20.95 (750ml bottle)

When one is thinking of decent Merlot, the region of Lodi, located some 130 kilometres east of San Francisco, may not be the first place that comes to mind for most folks, but this area is more than capable of producing more than its fair share of delicious wines from that grape (and many others, for that matter). 

When I first nosed this multi sub-appellation wine, I was convinced that there was a healthy portion of old-vine Zinfandel present. I’ve been to Lodi a few times and seen some of the co-planting that has taken place in many of the older vineyards, and so the leather and spice character found in this wine immediately made me think that a certain portion of “California’s Grape” had been included in the mix. After looking at the winery’s technical sheet on the vintage, the blend includes 5% Teroldego and 5% Petit Verdot, but I’m still convinced that some gorgeous ancient vine Zin snuck its way in here somehow. 

The bouquet is immensely attractive, even straight from a freshly opened bottle. One will find a whole load of black cherry and blackcurrant fruit here, but there’s a lovely cedar box/tea chest spice complexity on this wine that I find incredibly alluring. 

On the palate, this wine is immediately approachable. There’s nothing to scare the horses here, just delightfully juicy black fruits with really soft, malleable tannins. The nuanced wood spice (six months in new French cooperage) lingers on the palate in a most enjoyable finish.

This is a really super wine for under $22 and will pair well with grilled lamb sausages, hearty tomato-based pasta dishes, and even a chicken biriyani. Personally, I loved this all by itself.

(Four apples out of a possible five)


Ironstone Vineyards are represented in Ontario by Icon Vins Fins.

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