Constant readers know how much we admire the quirky boldness of growers and winemakers in California's Lodi region. One of its producers, Michael David Winery, is best known for its 7 Deadly Zins and 6th Sense Syrah, both of which we like a good bit. The 2009 vintage should bring similar recognition to its Incognito Red Wine Blend (about $17 at big box stores).
True to Lodi's rep for irreverence, this nicely balanced red blends syrah (40 percent) and cinsault (25 percent) with judicious splashes of carignan, mourvedre, petite syrah, grenache and tannat. Two of the grapes in this blend are pretty obscure. Lots of cinsault is planted in France, but it rarely appears in a bottle on its own here, serving almost exclusively as a blending grape. Tannat, a variety that likely originated in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, stands on its own more often than cinsault but still is not particularly well-known in this country.
The result of this blend is a table wine with a robust burst of raspberry on the nose, plus a hint of anise for spice. Juicy raspberry also stands out on the tongue, where it is joined harmoniously by dark chocolate and edgy bramble. A whiff of wood smoke appears right at the tail end of a medium long and satisfying finish.
Incognito will pair with red meats, of course, especially something with zing like barbecued pork ribs, but it also would be darling with a hearty four-cheese pizza.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.