The 100 Mile Red Blend Lodi 2016 is a $7.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive. Normally, when TJ’s has a wine made for them they try to hide which winery produced it, in their Fearless Flyer they left clues hiding in plain sight. It’s a Lodi winery, the oldest winery still operating, founded in 1934, which makes that Oak Ridge Winery, owned by the Maggio and Reynolds family since 2002. Oak Ridge makes some really nice wines, the OZV Zinfandel is a personal favorite. Prohibition ended December of 1933, so they started up as soon as wine was legal again. The 100 Mile in the name refers to Lodi’s location a hundred miles from the San Francisco Bay (Lodi is south and east of Napa). Most of the California’s grape growing regions are located close to the Pacific Coast, where the ocean moderates the typical California warm temperatures. Most of Lodi’s vineyards are located in the Delta region which is a series of river valleys that funnel in cool ocean breezes at night and in the mornings. That gives the grapes the intense growing period during the day, then the cooling off and resting during the night and morning that wine grapes need to fully develop. Trader Joe’s does not say what grapes are used in this blend, Oak Ridge is known for Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Merlot, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find these grapes were used, but Lodi also grows grape varietals from Italy, southern France, and Spain, so there could be surprises in my glass. The alcohol content is a subdued for Lodi, 13%.
The color is cranberry red with blue-black highlights. The nose is bright and lively, fresh ripe red berries, a touch of cinnamon, blueberry, vanilla, with a light dash of spice. This is a medium-bodied, sleek red wine, fruit-forward, but especially balanced. It tastes of a mix of blackberry and blueberry, French vanilla, black pepper, and plum. The mid-palate adds exotic spice, strawberry, and a late hit of pomegranate. The tannins are hanging around, but don’t get in the way. The acidity is well-balanced by the body of the wine, this is a sipping wine, but would work well with burgers, BBQ, Nashville Chicken, or steak burritos. The finish is soft and lingers for a while.
The 100 Mile Red Blend Lodi 2016 is a very solid 8 buck red blend, tasty, well-made, balanced. Sometimes red blends in the lower price range for wine tend to be over-extracted, bold and jammy wines, which is fine when done right, but often is used to cover-up less than great quality grapes. But, not with the 100 Mile, here the grapes are allowed to shine thru. This is an understated Red blend, maybe more in the European style of wine than typical value priced California Red. This is an unexpected but happily received, very tasty, Lodi red blend.