91 Insider Points
Delicious Fruit on the nose, with lovely spice notes and a minor oak influence. Stewed plum, baking spice, clove and vanilla on the palate. Generally ripe profile with supple tannins, good texture, and a balanced acidity. Drink now or in the next 2 years. - DZ
INSIDE FACT: Lodi has a long, proud history of producing some of the state’s finest Zinfandel grapes. Vineyards survived prohibition by being packed and shipped east for home winemakers, later surviving the planting booms of the ‘70s and ‘80s by filling the tremendous demand growth for white Zinfandel.
After Members grabbed our allocation of Axis Pinot Noir by the armful a few years ago, and the Cab later saw a similar fate, we determined that something about the producer’s fusion of Italian elegance and California appeal was really striking a chord. Here, they add another red to their arsenal: a new vintage of Zinfandel from the capital of the grape’s famously gnarly, old vines that shocks with its flavors, at once ripe and restrained, as much as its price—a measly $10 for Lodi Zin like this?
• Epicenter of Zin QPR. Influenced by the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, Lodi is known for Zinfandel with a killer quality-price ratio dating back to the late 1800s. It’s home to thousands of acres planted to Zin (about 40% of the state’s total), some of which contribute the majority of the fruit for this wine.
• Natural Expression. Lodi’s mild Mediterranean climate and deep, sandy loam soils drain all the bitterness and astringency associated with high-octane, big-tannin wines. The resulting wine is characteristically intense without smacking you upside the head.
• Crowd-Pleasing Profile. Axis has its origins in the rich tapestry of California microclimates and eco-friendly production, specializing in wines with a hugely drinkable draw. No wonder it’s long been a Member favorite.
• Subtle New Vintage. A dark, deep, and more balanced and restrained rendition of New World Zin than our Panel initially expected, this wine is full of ripe blackberries and red fruit, its edges lifted by nice acids.
An expressive nose of blackberry, blueberry, black pepper, and oak transitions into flavors of blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, and a lovely, spicy toastiness.
Axis is a collaborative effort between Gruppo Mezzacorona and Sonoma Wine Company, a producer of distinctive wines that has long-standing relationships with the region’s premier grape growers. The relationship between Sonoma Wine Company and Gruppo Mezzacorona developed through the professional friendship between their respective winemakers. These two companies have further strengthened their relationship by combining their Old World and New World knowledge to create the Axis brand, a brand that will give shape to this collective knowledge well into the future.
Each bottle conveys the dedication to the central principals of winemaking, core principles that bring together Italy and California in their appreciation of the inherent personality of each varietal and each appellation. Whether varietal selection or packaging decisions, all of the day-to-day activities of Axis revolve around this fundamental focus.
Axis has its origins in the rich diversity of microclimates, each with its own signature characteristics. As a result, Axis takes advantage of the microclimates by selecting varietals only from the regions in which they thrive. Axis hopes wine consumers will taste the distinctive attention given to each varietal and the flavors of the unique appellation. At the heart of Axis is a dedication to protecting the environment through eco-friendly production practices. Axis production facilities are continually reducing their carbon footprint through improved energy efficiency and better water management. In addition, the production facilities are honoring a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Read more here.
Enjoy this wine with grilled steaks, smoked ribs, hearty pasta dishes (think lasagna, cannelloni, and spaghetti). Italian sausage, beef stew, and brisket will also be delicious—don’t forget the barbecue sauce.