This exotic Old World-New World blend of French and Italian varieties grown in California inspires contrasting aromas, flavors and tactile perceptions. Petite sirah adds a deep layer of blackberry jam on the nose followed by whiffs of earth from the teroldego, vanilla, smoke, eucalyptus and thyme. The palate offers a full body and smooth texture from the petite verdot in concert with flavors of black cherry-cola from the barbera, umami, toasted oak and sage that are framed by dusty tannins and bright acidity.
Zhu Sha (辰 砂 in traditional Han characters) is the Chinese transliteration of the word “Cinnabar.” The name captures the exotic nature of our red proprietary blend featuring two Italian and two French grape varieties. Winemaker George Troquato has successfully made varietal wines from the individual components in recent years, but he took a leap of faith in fermenting all four together.
The novel blend also required a certain amount of synergy among its constituents that was heightened by co-fermentation versus blending them after separate fermentations. In particular, the unbridled masculinity of barbera and teroldego needed to be tempered by the approachability of the petite sirah and petite verdot. Barbera contributes high-toned fruit and tannins while teroldego provides earth, acidity and minerality. In contrast, petite sirah adds richness, black fruit and black pepper while petit verdot offers robust berry components, moderate tannins and inky colors.
Planted in 1980, Lewis Vineyard is situated east of Lodi in the Clements Hills AVA. It lies at 600 feet of elevation on the banks of the Mokelumne River in well-drained rocky red soils, and has a mostly dry climate with warm-to-hot days and cool evenings produced by breezes from the Sacramento River delta. The close proximity to the river maintains low overnight temperatures, resulting in bright acidity that merges with rounded tannins and full flavors in the finished wines.