By Celia Strong
It’s been a while, so let’s get right to it! Thinking about a wine for this week was harder than usual because, as usual, there are many I wanted to talk about. What did I decide on? One winery with many wines instead of just one wine.
Peirano Estates, or just Peirano to make it easier, is a family owned winery in the Lodi area of California. Their history there started in 1879 when Giacomo Peirano came from Genoa, Italy, with $50 in his pockets, to get rich in the California gold rush. When that didn’t work out so well for him, he took his remaining money and moved to Lodi. At the time, Lodi was full of mining camps. Giacomo realized that with all the miners there, there was a need for a mercantile store. He scrounged up a bit more money, and opened Peirano Provisions. It was a great idea and started making money quickly, enough so that Giacomo could go back to Italy to bring his wife to California. Funny thing, though, he also brought back with him some Zinfandel vines. Back in Lodi, he bought 300 acres and farmed the vineyards he planted while his wife ran the store. Three sons survived to work with their father in the vineyards and, later, a granddaughter and her husband. Today, Giacomo’s great-grandson still works the same vineyards.
To understand why these wines are so good, we have to look at what Lodi has to offer. Simply, it has an ideal Mediterranean climate with deep, sandy-loam soils and lots of good water. Lance Randolph, Giacomo’s great-grandson, knows this soil, climate and water are very similar to the coastal areas of Italy that Giacomo came from. Plus, he has a real reverence for the Old World farming techniques from his heritage which he integrates with some newer methods. For instance, Giacomo’s vines were only allowed to grow about 3 feet tall. When you and your field workers average about 5 feet tall, three foot vines are a good height to work. When they grow better grapes at a lower height, it makes sense to continue the practice over the generations, even though each generation gets a bit taller.
And, now, on to the wines from Peirano Estates. The first one is called “The Other.” This is a blended red that uses cabernet, merlot, syrah, sometimes one or two more. This wine always has a deep, intense, dark color, dark red and black fruit flavors and a juicy texture. This color, flavor and texture is what Lodi wines are all about. Lucky for us, Peirano keeps them all at a reasonable $12.99 price. After “The Other” red became so well liked, we got “The Other White.” Also a blend (it includes chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and viognier), this wine too is full bodied, smooth and voluptuous. There’s that Lodi style again!
Since the Peirano blends were such good wines, it made sense, when they became available, to get the single grape variety wines too. So, the cabernet sauvignon was a huge hit, and still is. One of the very fullest and smoothest cabs for the price that I’ve ever found. The Petit Sirah is a bit heavier and screams out for a good steak. (Sometimes, after a glass or two, you can hear it say “I like steak!) Next came the merlot which is called the “Six Clone” Merlot. Peirano grows six different versions (clones) of merlot. Each version brings its own characteristics to the wine which explains why this wine is so layered and multi-faceted. And still for the same $12.99. Lucky us! The latest red we’ve gotten in from Peirano is their Malbec. The 2007 was their first vintage of this variety and it’s the only American Malbec we have. The Lodi area has ideal conditions for this grape and Lance has worked with deficit irrigation, crop thinning and leaf pulling to insure full and proper ripening. The wine is spicy and peppery with hints of red hots candies, strawberries and cloves. Yum, yum, yum! And, not to be left out, we did get in the Peirano Viognier. This is a great white with concentrated flavors of peaches, pineapple, lemon, fresh ginger and more. Always a favorite for some of us.
But, finally, our newest wine from Peirano — the chardonnay. I know it could be just another $12.99 chard, but really and truly it’s really, really nice! I’ve enjoyed sipping glasses of it several times. It too has a long list of flavors — vanilla, lemon meringue pie, tangerines, hints of buttery notes and more. But, it’s the texture of this wine that makes it so seductive. At first it feels full and ripe in your mouth, but then, all of a sudden, you get a kick of acidity. That kick stops it all from becoming a bit too much and dries out your mouth. And you know what that means? A dry mouth? Yep, you need another sip! Imagine being able to figure out how to make a wine work for you like that. I now have my very favorite Peirano wine! But, wait, wait! I almost forgot. All the Peirano wines are on deal — no more $12.99. Try $9.99. Lucky us! Enjoy!