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A Red & White Night in Lodi

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Crowd Shot at AcquiesceThe evening began at Acquiesce

by Dan Clarke

When invited to an evening in Lodi billed as “Red & White Night!” I was intrigued. Two wineries, Acquiesce and Macchia, planned to put on a progressive dinner with each pouring its own wines. Macchia specializes in red wines, mostly Zinfandels. The winery produces several bottlings of Zin each vintage, each of them expressing the virtues of specific vineyards. Some years ago I served on a panel of wine writers that was charged with picking a dozen Zinfandel wines to represent Lodi. We judges worked our way though many wines in what is called a “blind tasting” (bottles covered so that we could not identify the producers). My recollection is that four or five of the Zins selected for our final dozen turned out to be Macchia wines. Obviously, winemaker Tim Holdener has a special touch with this variety and I thought any other reds he makes were also likely to be good.

I'd never heard of Acquiesce, whose wines would provide the white contribution to the event. They were fairly new and, frankly, I didn't expect much. But they had chosen to make only white wines. That was unusual enough in this area, but they were making only wines from grapes native to France's Rhône Valley. White wines—but not the ubiquitous Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. This could get interesting.

About 60 people would be attending the red and white dinner, many of them members of the wine clubs of these wineries. Acquiesce would host the evening's first segment and winemaker Sue Tipton suggested I arrive a little early to taste her wines. All were from the 2013 vintage. They included a Grenache Blanc, a Vigonier, a Grenache Rosé and the Belle Blanc (a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier). The latter wine is Sue's version of the little-known white wine of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. All four of these wines were of surprising quality.

Guests began to gather in the Acquiesce tasting room and soon were all enjoying glasses of Belle Blanc and snacking on the goat cheese and smoked trout appetizers. Conversations were animated and an apparent good time being had by all when the word came that it was time to move on to Macchia, a couple of miles to the west. Ten minutes later we were entering the shady Macchia courtyard adjacent the winery where the rest of our evening would be spent. Ordinarily, a May event like this would be held out of doors, but temperatures reached the mid-nineties earlier in the day prompting the move to air conditioned surroundings.

Red and White Centerpiece

I was fortunate to share a table with Sue and Rodney Tipton where I found out more about these people who have charted such an innovative course. The short story is that Rodney's career necessitated they make frequent moves earlier in their married life before settling in Lodi about 15 years ago. The couple lived in many parts of the world prior to that time and along the way Sue developed a fascination with Rhone whites. Though she has made wines at home since 2003, she has been making her own versions of these white wines professionally for just three years. The Tiptons grow 12 acres of Zinfandel on their property, but those grapes go to Gallo's winery, not theirs. Two other Acquiesce wines—the Grenache Blanc and the Viognier—were paired with the first two dishes at this sit-down segment of the evening. These were followed by three courses paired with wines from Macchia—a Barbera, a Zinfandel and a Port-style wine. (see menu below)Short Rib Pairing at Red and WhiteShort Rib Pairing with Macchia "Serious" Zinfandel was brilliant

Sacramento caterer Community Tap and Table provided a creative dinner menu. The food was tasty and helped show the wines to good advantage. For me the most successful course of the evening was the beef short rib with candy carrots accompanied by Macchia 2012 “Serious” Zinfandel. It was splendid. Chef Emily Baime and both winemakers gave the diners brief background on the ingredients and preparation of each course and the wine accompanying it. Sue and Rodney Tipton, Tim and Lani Holdener and their staffs created a very cordial environment for the evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red & White Night

 

Mint-Smoked Tahoe Trout Tarts with Goat Cheese-Crème Fraiche & Chives

Acquiesce Winery 2013 Belle Blanc

 

San Joaquin Spring Lettuce and Tarragon Soup with Green Apple Chip

Acquiesce Winery 2013 Grenache Blanc

 

Cauliflower Salad with Honeyed Onions and North African Olive-Harissa Dressing

Acquiesce Winery 2013 Viognier

 

“Minnestrone” Pesto Pasta with McFarland Heirloom Beans, Fingerling Potatoes and Blistered Tomatoes

Macchia 2012 “Infamous” Barbera

 

Lucky Dog Ranch Braised Beef Short Ribs with Candy Carrots

Macchia 2012 “Serious” Zinfandel

 

Decadent Chocolate Fudge Brownie “Sundae” drizzled with Port

Macchia 2011 “Dangerous” Port