115 N. School Street, Suite 5, Lodi CA 95240 (map link)
We’d planned to hit the wineries hard at 10am, but what with cleaning up our rented house and packing the car, we didn’t hit the road until 11am. After a few false starts, we headed to the Lodi Wine and Visitors Center, only to see the Douchenberg, the Jersey Short Bus and Thomas the Tanked Engine all pull up at the same time. “Abort! Abort!” Mike shouted, pulling a quick U-turn.
And thus…we arrived at Grands Amis.
Grands Amis was a pleasant place to start the day. It’s tucked into a little brick one-story office building, with a cozy setting and friendly staff. It’s clearly geared toward fewer people than were there with us, but the staff handled it with aplomb, even taking a photo break (see above).
After two days of tasting, I felt in need of a wine critic’s thesaurus. My adjectives are weak and redundant and whimpering after far too much use.
2009 Pinot Grigio: It tasted of mineral and citrus with a little earth. A refreshing way to wash the coffee aftertaste out of my mouth.
2009 Chardonnay: This wine was also citrus with a mineral edge. It was a blend of stainless and barrel aged wine, which gave it a nice softness. Also, it was a Borden Ranch AVA wine, which gave us yet another appellaiton!
2008 Merlot: This wine smelled of rich cherries and had a fruit-forward flavor backed by oak.
2007 Old Vine Zinfandel: This enjoyable wine smelled like a wine perfume and tasted like it had been caramelized.
2006 Zinfandel: This had a musky scent, with a flavor of tart cherries and raisins.
2008 Barbera: The musk scent was even heavier with this one, with a gamy meaty taste.
2008 Premiere Passion: This smelled like lightly candied plums. The flavor was astringent and oaky with a hint of currants.
2007 Petite Sirah: As soon as Mike put his nose into the glass, he said, “That smells nice!” It had a juicy raisin smell with a taste of sweet plums and prunes and a moment of candy on the finish. And one more AVA added – the Jahant AVA!
2006 Petite Sirah: This had a complex scent. Mike said, “It’s almost like there’s a little toasted sugar in the nose.”
Port: This smelled like nectarine and clementines as well as grapes. It was so sugary that it seemed like the sugars were precipitating out, giving the wine a powdered sugar texture. There was a burst of high alcohol at the finish.