Van Ruiten Cab-Shiraz with Giuseppe's pizza.
Van Ruiten Cab-Shiraz with Giuseppe’s pizza.

O ne of the great things about tasting and reviewing wines is that there is always something new coming on the market. The wine doesn’t even have to be new, but as a television network said about its reruns a few years ago, “If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you.”

Nearly a year ago I discovered Van Ruiten wines at a big trade show in Atlanta. The wines actually had been around since 1999, but I had never seen or tasted them. What a treat it was to find them because every one I have tried from this Lodi winery has been terrific.

My latest “discovery” is the Cab-Shiraz. What a beauty!

Teri and I had had a tough day hacking away at a large Bradford pear tree that had fallen in our back yard. All the rain had soaked the ground so much, the tree just tipped over when the roots wouldn’t hold in the muck.

I had some scrapes and bruises and sore muscles so I didn’t feel like cooking and we agreed on a pizza from my favorite spot, Giuseppe’s. We needed a comfort wine to go with the comfort food so I reached for something from Van Ruiten and came up with the Cab-Shiraz.

Van Ruiten Cab-Shiraz.
Van Ruiten Cab-Shiraz.

This was as good time to drink a Van Ruiten because The Vineyard Wine Market in Columbia County will have a Van Ruiten tasting Thursday night at 7 p.m. I told Roger Strohl at the Vineyard about the wine, and he’s finally bringing it in. As he says, “Darn tootin’, we’re having Van Ruiten.”

I wish I could be there, but I had already committed to dinner with some friends. But I would recommend the tasting, which will feature 7 wines, all under $20: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Old Vine Red Zinfandel, Cab-Shiraz Red Blend and Cabernet Sauvignon. For reservations call 706-922-9463.

The Cab-Shiraz is a wonderful, rich, full wine that is loaded with fruit, but is not overextracted. Drinking it is like chewing a mouthful of cherries, blackberries and plums. It is a full bodied wine with a medium finish. The blend is 50-50. There is just enough oak to give the wine some backbone. Teri and I both loved it.

The wine was perfect with the pizza, having enough acidity and tannins to stand up to the spicy sausage and the perfect fruit to blend with the tomato sauce.

The Cab-Shiraz was one of the original wines made by Van Ruiten in 1999, and it has been so popular they have kept making it. It’s an unusual wine in Lodi, which is known for great Zinfandels. This may be the only Cab-Shiraz in Lodi. I know I have never seen another Lodi blend like this.

Cab-Shiraz and pizza, a true feast.
Cab-Shiraz and pizza, a true feast.

After the pizza the wine was still great sipping while we binge-watched several episodes of the Netflix series, “Hemlock Grove.” It’s a good supernatural thriller.

From: Lodi
Winery: John Van Ruiten arrived in the United States from his native Holland shortly after World War II with a dream to own his own winery. After a few years of hard work he bought property in Lodi planted with old Zinfandel vines. He planted more vines and soon was selling grapes to wineries.

For more than 50 years the grapes grown in the Van Ruiten vineyards were sold to other wineries before the family decided to try their hand at winemaking in 1999. They opened Van Ruiten Family Vineyards with state of the art equipment and a beautiful tasting room in Lodi. Three generations of Van Ruitens work the 2,000 acres they now own.

The early successes, which are still popular today, are the Cab-Shiraz blend, an Old Vine Zinfandel and a Lodi grown Chardonnay.

Zinfandel has become the winery’s signature grape. A few years ago the Wall Street Journal called their Lodi Zin the best Zinfandel in America. As Lodi has grown, it has become a world-class wine district, with large wineries and tasting rooms sprouting up all over the region.

The vineyards are located midway between the Sierra Foothills and San Francisco Bay Delta at the northern end of the Central Valley.

The winery has a second label, Glory Days, which bottles good wine at even lower prices.
Cost: $19
Year: 2010

Write A Comment

Pin It