The towns of Lodi and nearby Woodbridge are located in California's Central Valley, just
north of Stockton. Central Valley is hot, yet Lodi benefits from two climate reprieves; it has
altitude, and it enjoys the cooling breezes from distant San Francisco Bay because of its
location just east of the Sacramento River Delta. Winemakers like warm dry days and cool
Robert Mondavi grew up in Lodi, made his name further north, but always considered the
Lodi area his true home. The Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi wines I recently tasted, all
California appellation and all $8 suggested retail, are produced at the winery in Lodi under
the direction of winemaker Todd Ziemann.
The Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi 2008 Pinot Grigio is 77% Pinot Grigio, fleshed out
mostly with Chenin Blanc. Most of this is Lodi fruit. The wine underwent some aging on its
lees but saw no oak. Good. This light golden Pinot Grigio has the mainstream, ripe, sweet
lemon citrus essence that gives the varietal such a good reputation, combined with melon, a
touch of mango, a faint background of banana and some pineapple. That is the profile, and
the wine needs no other elements. The finish is clean, couched in lemon tang.
The Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, also mostly from Lodi, is whole
cluster pressed and cool fermented in stainless steel with lees aging but again no oak. The
wine is a light straw in color, giving immediate aromas of grass, citrus, white flowers and
white pepper. Acidity is respectable, sometimes tangy but otherwise a conduit for a lot of
flavor, lime citrus and tropical fruit, with a good bit of grapefruit and honeydew melon. The
wine finishes with ripe round lime notes, very clean. A wine like this accompanies a wide
range of dishes, practically anything in fact, but bold flavors seem most apt: Thai or even
Cajun. This Sauvignon Blanc will certainly pass muster at any barbecue.
The Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi 2007 Zinfandel is fairly tame as Zin-alcohol goes,
13.5%, decidedly dry as well. This is brambly Zin as I like it, with aromas of wild cherry,
pepper, citrus peel, nutmeg, almost anything that stimulates and tickles the nose. Despite the
soft tannins, the wine brings feeling to the mouth, the tactile certainty that one is
drinking Zinfandel. I decided a while back it was best calling Zin, Zin, and not making too
many analogies to other beverages or food substances. Zin can have many manifestations,
many of them good, but the best Zin, at whatever price level, lets you know it is itself. This
one does. It isn't complicated but it doesn't need to be. I already mentioned that barbecue. Put
this one in Texas, and make it big.
At the price, unmatched.