When we think about aging wines and holding some of our better bottles aside, most of us probably think only in the realm of red wines. But did you know some white wines age beautifully, too? They do!
We humans have known for a long time—as far back as ancient Greece and Rome—that wine can improve with age. It’s even mentioned in the Book of Luke in the New Testament that old wines are valued over new wines. But over the millennia, we’ve refined our knowledge to knowing not *all* wines age well. Some, say a Beaujolais Nouveau, are best consumed very young. But well-crafted wines—yes, even white wines!—with good acidity and medium to full body can change and improve over the years they spend in the bottle.
Let’s talk about esters.
“Esters are the aromatic, fruity compounds in wine, formed during fermentation, malolactic fermentation (MLF) and ageing. There are many factors that influence the types and quantities of esters present and although all of them are not positive contributors, as a group, they are a major constituent of wine.” (WineLand Media-will include hyperlink in blog)
Esters vary from fruit to fruit—a green apple, for example, is loaded with naturally occurring or endemic esters. But wine grapes have far fewer natural esters. So where do all those complex wine aromas come from? WineLand explains:
“Research has identified 11 different esters in grape juice, but wine can have up to 83; this affects the wine’s flavour and complexity in proportion to their presence. Esters are formed when an acid reacts with alcohol, eliminating a water molecule in the process.”
Acquiesce’s wines never go through MLF, so the esters in our wines happen via fermentation, and (if you have the willpower to cellar them for a few years) AGING!
You Say You Want an Evolution?
And this is where wine gets VERY interesting. While a young bottle of white wine, say our 2018 Viognier, has very up-front fruit flavors and aromas, its sibling that’s a few years older will have grown up. Instead of the intense leading notes and flavors of fruit, you may find those aromas and flavors more complex and layered. The strong fruity esters of youth may give way to esters that hint at honeycomb or a subtle almond flavor. Compare the tasting notes of our 2018 Viognier with its 2015 sibling, which we recently poured for guests at our Acquiesce En Blanc dinner:
“Fields” of lavender, ultra-intense and fragrant, with faint suggestions of peach and exotic/spiced flower notes; firm, medium full body, yet light and airy in the feel. Reminiscent of honeyed tangerine and peach, this wine is crisp and dry, yet round on the palate. Aroma of violets, followed by a long, dry finish.” -2018 Acquiesce Viognier
And after a few years of bottling aging?
“Aromatic suggestions of slate, minerality, stone fruit and dried tea rose petals enhance the delicate mid-palate of Chinese herbs, fennel, and lemongrass, creating a lingering finish.” -2015 Acquiesce Viognier
Granted, these are different wines of different vintages, so the flavor and aroma makeup of the wine can and will vary somewhat from year to year. But our style and approach at Acquiesce has been consistent from the beginning, so while the wines may differ a bit with each vintage, they are still reliably similar. Those extra years in the bottle, however, create greater layers in complexity with the aromas and flavor profile, introducing new tertiary flavors that come on with age (the minerality, the herbiness, the more subtle fruit).
What to Expect With an Aged White Wine.
The first thing you’ll probably notice from a white wine with some bottle age is a change in color. The pale, bright straw color of the new white wine will grow into a slightly deeper gold color. The aromas may change slightly, and there may even be off-aromas initially; don’t be surprised by this, but also don’t let it concern you too much. This is where decanting comes in. Yes, you should consider decanting older white wines, just as you would with a red wine! Those types of aromas should “blow off” (or mostly evaporate) once it’s had a chance to open up a bit. Think of the wine as stretching its legs after being in a cramped position for a long time.
Then comes the fun part; once decanted, you get to discover how that fruity youngster has developed. Where there was bright tangerine before, you may detect hints of honeycomb or candied citron. Where the acids practically danced in the glass in a newly made wine, you may find the acid making its presence known in more subtle ways, along with hints of wet slate or a slight brininess. Take your time with these wines and let them reveal themselves as you sip and savor.
Our first commercial vintage was 2011, so we are only just now able to explore bottle age in Acquiesce wines ourselves, and we’re loving what we’re tasting so far. We are confident that with proper storage (keep away from light and heat), our wines will continue to age beautifully in bottle up to 10 years (and perhaps beyond!).
As difficult as it may be to hold back a few bottles of our bright, lovely wines for aging, we think you’ll love the result as much as we do.
Did you know we have a professional sommelier/wine educator on staff here at Acquiesce? Meet the next team member in our series of staff profiles, Norma Poole!
Poole is one of the more recent additions to our staff, joining us in March of this past year.
“A first time wine tasting trip to Lodi led me to Acquiesce as a recommendation from my first stop which was another winery in Lodi. That was a life changing visit in more ways than one!”
Before joining Acquiesce earlier this year, Poole lived in nearby Napa Valley for 17 years where she made her career in the wine industry there.
“Ten of those years was spent teaching at the Napa Valley College, instructing wine tasting classes which included Sensory Evaluation of Wine, Wines of the World, Wines of California and Food and Wine Pairing. I worked at Cakebread Cellars, Cardinale/Lokoya and Cuvaison as a tasting room manager and sales over the course of those years.”
So just how did she end up in the wine industry in the first place?
“Just about 30 years ago I read a book called A Year in Provence on a plane from my hometown in upstate New York, to my new place of residence in California. The book, by Peter Mayle, was written with such humor and enthusiasm about the French love affair with food and wine, that it hooked me completely! I wanted to immerse myself into the food and wine culture! I became a serious follower of Julia Child and Alice Waters, avidly reading the weekly food and wine columns in the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle, scrapbooking recipes, which I still have and frequently refer to. At the same time, I began visiting wineries in Amador, Sonoma and Napa, tasting, examining and learning about how wine was made. My dear friends from New York moved to Sacramento and we made wine out of their garage, and then spent our time trying out new recipes and pairing with wines we had either made or purchased from local wineries.”
Norma notes that the turning point in her career, which at the time was in sales, occurred after meeting her husband at a restaurant in Sacramento known for their excellent gourmet French-inspired food and French wine list.
“I wanted to learn as much as I could about great food and wine pairings! Shortly after, we decided to move to the Napa Valley, where he began working as a captain and sommelier at the French Laundry and I became a student of wine, taking the exams for the advanced level of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), and studying at Napa Valley College in the Viticulture and Winery Technology School where I became an instructor for over 10 years. In the meantime, I had passed the Certificate Level for the Master Sommelier, studying under the direction of great Master Sommeliers and falling in love with French wine! Hence, my food and wine journey has ultimately and happily led me to Acquiesce, where I can fulfill my life’s love and dream, sharing the greatest hand crafted white Rhȏne wines, with which we serve our guests exquisite little food pairings.”
Poole moved to Lodi with her husband earlier this year. “We love the sense of community and the farming lifestyle. And I suppose I should mention, most importantly, that Acquiesce brought us here!”
And which Acquiesce wine is Norma’s favorite?
“Every single wine that Sue Tipton crafts is ultimately exquisite! My current love is Ingénue, a brilliant blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Bourboulenc, and Picpoul Blanc, showing multiple delicate layers of stone fruits, Asian spices and nuances of Amaretto liquor.”
So what are the benefits of having a sommelier on staff at Acquiesce? Not only can Poole tailor and guide a tasting for your group, she’s also a gold mine of wine knowledge and is happy to share that to improve your experience in the tasting room.
“Over the years teaching classes on how to pair food and wine, I have found that there is a great deal of anxiety and frustration associated with choosing the right wines to serve with food, especially during the holidays. Food and wine pairing is an examination of the individual components of the food as well as the wine of which I can assist our customers at Acquiesce with. I can help them learn the meaning of cause and effect of the acid, tannin, alcohol, sugar and salt in foods that can affect the overall wine that they choose. Our customers are welcome to bring their menus to the tasting room where I can sit with them and go over each item. I can then make suggestions as to which Acquiesce wine to serve with each course. I recommend an appointment to ensure the quality time that I can spend with our customers at Acquiesce, working the appointments into my regular schedule at the Acquiesce tasting room, if necessary.”
Poole believes there’s something special happening here at Acquiesce, and loves being a part of it.
“There is not enough space in this article to write all the reasons I like working at Acquiesce! To top the list: the privilege of representing the most exciting white wines on a daily basis and working for Sue Tipton. I have a deep admiration for her pioneering spirit, hard work and unfailing dedication to truly fulfill her promise to make world-class wines. Sue Tipton has created a wine tasting experience, by virtue of making unequaled white Rhȏne-style wines, that naturally makes for an amazing experience above and beyond anything that people normally get wine tasting anywhere.”
We couldn’t agree more, and think Norma is an important part of that experience. Say “hi” to her next time you stop by the tasting room, and don’t be shy about asking for her assistance and expertise!
Welcome to the first in a series of staff profiles for our team at Acquiesce! We couldn’t do what we do without them, and thought it would be fun for you to get to know them, too.
If you’ve been in the Acquiesce tasting room, and especially if you’re one of our wine club members, you’ve most likely met or spoken with our tasting room and wine club manager, Deanie Bridewell. Her gracious and gentle demeanor sets the tone in the tasting room, and she keeps things running smoothly on all fronts.
Deanie previously worked at the City of Lodi’s Hutchins Street Station, where she was the Manager and Event Coordinator.
What brought you to Acquiesce?
I met Sue (Tipton) while I was the Event Coordinator and Manager of Hutchins Street Square. My emphasis was supporting the Arts. We met planning the Artisan Masters, a fundraising collaboration between the Lodi Arts Commission, the Lodi Arts Foundation and local wineries.
What was your background prior to coming to Acquiesce?
I started working for HSS in 2004. During that time, I attended Sacramento State and received a Certificate in Event Planning. Lodi art events provided opportunities for me to meet local wine makers who were always generous in their support and donation of wine when asked to help. Although I worked with many winemakers, my knowledge of Lodi wines was limited.
How long have you been in the Lodi area, and what do you like about it?
I moved to Lodi from Sonoma County in 2004. Lodi offers a small town feel while providing great wine tasting, art events and recreational opportunities.
What’s your (current) favorite wine in the Acquiesce lineup?
Right now I’m loving the Grenache Blanc. The Grenache Rosé is always a consistent favorite. Having Belle Blanc back on the menu is a treat, and I’m waiting for a special moment to open my 2014 Roussanne. I can’t wait to try that!
What do you like about working at Acquiesce?
I feel blessed to work with Sue. I respect her philosophy and spirit to produce world class wines. I enjoy the delight customers find in her white wines, especially the staunch red wine only lover, once they take the chance. And I love working with the Acquiesce staff. They are the best and truly committed to their passion and support of Acquiesce and providing the very best experience for our guests.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
When not working, I love traveling—whether it is a trip to the ocean or abroad. This summer I had the opportunity to meet Sue and Rodney in Uzes, France. It turned out that in our small cooking class we were surprised by having two Acquiesce wine club members show up who were also enjoying a holiday. I also am Noni to five wonderful grandchildren who I can never get enough of.
Deanie provides such a positive guiding presence at Acquiesce. Sue Tipton notes “Deanie is the ultimate customer service professional; nothing makes her happier than greeting our guests or getting to know a new wine club member. She’s interested in pleasing our customers and being a mentor to our tasting room staff.”
Be sure to say “hi!” to Deanie next time you stop by!
We may be just a stone's throw from the city by the bay, but we (and our wines) are often overlooked by our bigger neighbors to the west. So we were extra-thrilled to find ourselves in a feature in The Press, the Chronicle's wine section. Former Sacramento Bee writer Mike Dunne has compiled an extensive guide to Lodi wine, and it includes a feature on Acquiesce!
In her piece "We've Gotten it All Wrong About Lodi Wine," Chronicle wine writer Esther Mobley notes in her introduction to Dunne's guide:
"Discovering the wines of Lodi has truly been one of the great pleasures of my job over the last few years . . . . As the longtime Sacramento Bee wine writer, Mike knows Lodi like his own backyard, and he does a wonderful job of conveying the region’s rich history. Perhaps more acutely than any other California wine region, Lodi is a place that was shaped by the Gold Rush and Prohibition. It is both the beneficiary of the modern wine boom’s appetite for zesty, higher-alcohol red wines, and the victim of it — as the region now has to show it can do more than jammy and overripe."
Our dry white wines are emblematic of that maverick spirit in Lodi, and we think Dunne captures it perfectly:
"The secret to the popularity of their unusual wines is a house style that stresses clarity, focus and zing. Unfamiliarity with this or that varietal wine hasn’t kept consumers from recognizing and embracing suggestions of apple, lime and revitalizing acidity in her Picpoul Blanc, the juicy complexity of her Grenache Blanc, and the tropical fruitiness, richness and persistence of her Clairette Blanche."
Be sure to check out Dunne's Lodi guide, and use it to plan your next trip to visit us!
We were delighted to learn this week that two of our Acquiesce wines received medals at this year's American Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition.
Founded in 1967, the American wine society is the largest and oldest organization of wine consumers in the country; its Commercial Wine Competiton was first held in 1986 and remains one of the more highly regarded wine competitions in the U.S.
This year, our Clairette Blanche--one of the two new varieties we recently planted on the Acquiesce estate--was awarded a Gold Medal. This is still an exceptionally rare Rhône variety for the U.S., and we think it performs beautifully in our Lodi AVA.
In addition, our perennially popular "lip-stinging" beauty, Picpoul Blanc, was awarded an AWS Double Gold Medal.
We are proud of the premium white wines we produce here at Acquiesce, and thrilled with this recognition from the American Wine Society. We still have both wines available for purchase online (just click on the "Wines" tab above) or in the tasting room.
Acquiesce’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape-inspired blend, Belle Blanc, is an homage to Sue Tipton’s origin story as a winemaker. She’s almost certainly told the tale too many times to count now, but the wine she tasted that started her on the journey that would become Acquiesce, with all its wines we know and love, was a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend. If you can get her talking about that wine, she still waxes rhapsodic in describing it.
We can certainly identify-we’re just as likely to wax rhapsodic about the Belle Blanc when you ask about it in the tasting room. It’s a perennial staff favorite (and customer favorite!), and the 2018 vintage is no exception.
All of our grapes are hand-picked and immediately pressed as whole clusters to capture their fresh, flavorful character. The grapes were harvested in the early morning to keep acidity at its highest, providing the vibrancy in the wine. The juice is then cool fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to highlight the pure fruit expressions.
Our estate fruit is in the Mokelumne River AVA of the Lodi Appellation, and our grape clones are Tablas Creek cuttings from the famous French Château de Beaucastel Winery in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region. Our climate is very similar to that of the Southern Rhône with cool nighttime breezes from the nearby Mokelumne River giving our grapes their ripe, fruity flavors with excellent balance.
This luscious white offers wonderful mouth feel and tropical flavors; the lovely aroma of pear, honeysuckle and gardenia give way to a long, dry finish. Each variety brings something special to the blend: the Grenache Blanc brings aromas of dried apricot, green apple, and stone fruit, the Roussanne provides an almond and floral note, and the Viognier adds a honeyed tangerine finish.
Belle Blanc is an exceptionally versatile blend, pairing well with summertime dishes like citrus salads, ceviche, oysters, crab, but also pairs beautifully with heartier fall and winter dishes such as chicken and pork; try it with a traditional cassoulet or the Pork Chops Gratinées featured in the Recipes section on this website. We call it our Thanksgiving wine because it pairs so beautifully with all the rich dishes on our holiday table, from the turkey on down (and we think it'd go great on your Thanksgiving table, too).
Belle Blanc was just awarded a Gold Medal at the prestigious Sunset Magazine International Wine Competition 2019. It’s available for purchase on the website and in our tasting room. $34/bottle.
2018 Ingénue (2 bottles)
A blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Bourboulenc and Picpoul Blanc, the Ingénue has a very high-toned, exuberant nose of primarily minerals and fresh fennel, with suggestions of lemon/citrus and spring/floral notes; medium-full body of moderate weight despite meaty, slightly dense, textured qualities, finishing with mineral and citrus notes in the mouth. We enjoy this wine with gruyere grilled cheese, tomato tart, pork belly, goat cheese and so much more. Best of Class & Double Gold in the 2019 International Women's Wine Competition plus Gold & Best of Class in the 2019 Sunset International Wine Competition.
2018 Bourboulenc (2 bottles)
We are the first winery in the U.S. to release this varietal that has been grown in France for hundreds of years. It’s got a great natural acidity, with citrus flavors of orange and key lime and with a honeyed beeswax finish. We find that it pairs well with fish (a natural with bouillabaisse!) and even shines with spicy foods. Gold Medal - 2019 International Women's Wine Competition.
2018 Roussanne (1 bottle)
This wine has the most diverse characteristics of all of our varietals. The mouth is juicy yet still restrained, with flavors of apricots and cream. The finish is mineral, with almond, pear, floral and even some honey notes. It stands up to rich shellfish, salmon, spicy foods and garlic stir-fries. A must with foie gras! Gold Medal - International Women's Wine Competition 2019.
2018 Grenache Rosé (1 bottle)
This Provençal style dedicated rosé has a delicate salmon color with aromas of watermelon, strawberry and lime. Our Grenache grape clones come from both the famous French Château de Beaucastel Winery in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region and from the renowned Alban Grenache clone; the cool nighttime breezes from the Mokelumne River nearby gives the grapes ripe, fruity flavors with excellent balance. This wine pairs well with any food but try it with Mediterranean cuisine or Spanish tapas for a special treat—or just enjoy it outside on a sunny day! Gold Medal - 2019 Sunset Magazine's International Wine Competition.
Join us for an Educational Harvest Vineyard and Winery Tour highlighting our estate vineyard and winemaking practices following the Lodi Rules Sustainable Farming Program on either Saturday, September 14th or Saturday, September 21st at 9:30 AM.
This is an ideal time of year to visit us for a vineyard tour, since you’ll get to experience the grapes themselves right out in the vineyard.
Participants will walk the vineyard with Rodney Tipton, gaining an understanding of trellising, pruning, tying, maintaining shade canopy and seeing how our irrigation program works, to name a few.
The vineyard tour will be followed by an overview of the winemaking process by winemaker Susan Tipton. Learn how to check grapes for ripeness and follow our grapes from the vineyard to the glass. Taste the grapes directly from the vine, and then try freshly pressed grape juice from the tank! Discover how our wines taste along multiple steps in their journey to the bottle and learn just how they got there.
Next up will be a tasting of our fall lineup of white wines each paired with small bites, and ending with a box lunch from the Lodi Airport Cafe on our patio.
Bring a hat or sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes (that don’t mind getting a little dusty).
Limited to 20 guests.
Cost for tour, tasting, and lunch:
$35 per person - $25 per person for Acquiesce Wine Club Members - SOLD OUT!
RSVP here to be added to the waitlist.
Our newest release from the vineyard is our 2018 Roussanne, a true Rhȏne grape that originated in the northern Rhȏne valley in France. This is our eighth vintage of the sometimes-temperamental variety, and we are excited about what we’re tasting so far. It’s already earned a gold medal at the 2019 International Women’s Wine Competition, and impresses with aromas of tea rose, white flowers and a hint of spice on the nose, and it unfolds on the palate with notes of pear, apricot and a rich mouthfeel. The finish lingers with flavors of almonds and honeycomb. A backbone of minerality and acidity keeps this wine gorgeously balanced and delicious alone or with pairings from seafood to foie gras. As with all our wines, it is produced in 100% stainless tanks and never goes through malolactic fermentation, allowing the pure fruit flavor of our unique Lodi-Mokelumne River AVA terroir to really shine through.
While Roussanne is perhaps the most ageable of Rhȏne white varieties—and is often referred to as the white wine for red wine drinkers thanks to that ageability and all-around richness--it does have a bit of a reputation.
“Roussanne is a spindly plant, susceptible to wind, to rot, mildew, and oidium. Uneven ripeness, as well as botrytis, is common, and multiple passes are frequently required for a proper harvest. In the vineyard it is so fickle, in fact, that a grower at Novovine, a Sonoma nurseryman, gave it the nickname ‘the Princess.’”
-Patrick Comiskey, American Rhȏne
In the next breath, however, those who bemoan Roussanne’s finickiness will become downright poetic in describing the beautiful wines this grape produces. Is the princess worth all the trouble? The answer is YES.
It can certainly be a bit of a problem child in our vineyard, but we also have a slightly more hospitable environment for Roussanne here in Lodi, where we have a longer growing season and no troublesome winds like southern France’s Mistral.
One of the keys to growing Roussanne with best results is to keep yields low (which in turn keeps Roussanne’s acid levels in check), which we do with all our fruit at Acquiesce. At harvest, all the fruit is hand-picked and whole-cluster pressed.
Our 2018 Roussanne has just been released, and you can purchase it from our website or in our tasting room where we’ve just added it to our tasting flight.
307 cases produced, 100% estate grown
We are pleased to announce the release of our 2018 Bourboulenc!
Harvest date – September 21, 2018 (last varietal harvested)
Brix at Harvest – 23 – Absolutely beautiful fruit!
Date of Bottling - January 18, 2019
Cases Produced – 386 cases
Alcohol – 13.5%
In a year notable for its lack of extremes—no heat spikes, no flooding, and no extended drought conditions—the 2018 vintage was a stellar one for the Lodi region, and it really shows in our second-ever bottling of the rare Rhȏne variety Bourboulenc, grown on our estate in the Mokelumne River AVA. Acquiesce was the first U.S. winery to release a single-variety Bourboulenc, and we think our sophomore effort is even better. It’s a high-yielding, hardy grape that thrives on heat and sunshine—something we have plenty of in Lodi!
How did we make this vintage? For starters, all our estate fruit is certified under the Lodi Rules for sustainable winemaking. How we grow the grapes for our wine is as important as how we make the wine itself, because without quality fruit you cannot have great wine.
The fruit was hand-picked in early morning and whole cluster-pressed; as with all our wines, the grapes were cold-fermented in stainless steel tanks to allow maximum expression of the fruit flavors and has no residual sugar, which means this wine is crisp and dry. It does not undergo malolactic fermentation.
While this variety has been prized in Southern Rhône, Provence and Languedoc for centuries for its balanced acidity and citrus flavors, it really shines in our Lodi terroir: aromas of white flowers and spice lead to bright citrus flavors in the glass, with hints of fresh herbs, a supporting minerality, and a lingering honeyed finish. Bourboulenc is a primary component of several blends in southern France (Bandol Blanc, anyone?), and it’s a key variety in our own new Ingénue blend, but it’s a real standout as a varietal bottling. Rarely, if ever can it be found bottled as a single varietal. While this wine is delicious all by itself, it’s also a food-friendly wine that pairs well with seafood, pastas and risottos with a cream sauce, and even with spicy food. As we worked on this writeup we decided to pair it with a leek risotto and seared scallops, and it was a winning (and delicious!) combination.
Like all the wines Acquiesce makes, it is exceptionally well-suited in general for the lighter California (and West Coast) cuisine. Our Bourboulenc recently won a gold medal at the 2019 International Women’s Wine Competition, earning its place alongside all our other gold medal winners.
It’s available to wine club members and in our tasting room beginning August 15, with a $28 retail price. It joins our tasting room lineup on the 15th as well, so stop by and discover this exciting new wine for yourself!