2014 Stellina Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi. 14.5% ABV, $32.

Looking for a Valentine’s Day wine? Oh, is THIS ever delicious.

Every year, Lodi hosts its Wine & Chocolate Weekend. This year, their 22nd, the event is happening this weekend, Feb 9-10. I can’t attend, but the hosts sent me a bottle of Old Vine Zinfandel that is just one of the myriad of wines available from the 50 Lodi wineries that will be open to tours during the event. It is delicious.

The wine has a beautiful, rich, deep yet bright color, and the nose is spectacular. It’s juicy and mouth-watering, despite the healthy but not overpowering tannin; full of flavors of berries and cherry, with overtones of cloves; and despite its richness, it feels politely fresh and medium-bodied despite its 14.5% alcohol content.

In searching for information about the winemakers, Bob and Ali Colarossi, I learned that they operate Estate Crush, where custom wines are made. It’s a great concept, enabling startup winemakers and others to make their own “high-end wine without the investment of building and staffing your own winemaking facility.” The Stellina Zin is available for purchase through Estate Crush.

This stellar (bad pun, sorry/not sorry) wine was sent to me along with a brick of BRIX Chocolate —  literally a brick — of 60% (medium dark) chocolate made by, appropriately, BRIX Chocolate for Wine. (“Brix” is the technical term for the percentage of sugar in the grapes prior to picking.)

Chocolate and wine often don’t play well together, despite the romantic idea. Often, chocolate’s sweetness alters the taste of the wine, creating the illusion that it’s bitter, and the combination can cause a frowny case of dry-mouth.

I was a little surprised, but the pairing of this Zin with this 60% chocolate works.

BRIX Chocolate was developed by Dr. Nick Proia, M.D., an Ohio pulmonologist and wine connoisseur who sought an alternative to wine and cheese pairings. He created four chocolates that pair well with a variety of wine styles — from milk chocolate (40%) to extra dark (80%). Cacao is sourced from Ghana and mixed with confectionery chocolate.

If you can make it to the Lodi Wine & Chocolate weekend, please go. I’ve been on Lodi vineyard trips twice and the appellation is marvelous. You will meet the winemakers and learn tons of stuff that you’ll never forget. And if you can’t attend, fortunately this wine is available from the winery.

As I poured the last glass from this bottle, I SWEAR I heard a musical note: F#. I’ve never experienced that before, so I’m noting it. I do know that F# is the third of the major D chord, and D, Solfeggio 528, is the frequency of love.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

LABEL: Stellina, “Little Star,” is from the Colarossi Family Vineyard in Lodi where the warm summer days and cool evening Delta breezes create the ideal grape growing climate. Our fines are head-trained and deficit irrigated to preserve the flavors of the fruit, and the wine is handcrafted with great attention to detail. Salute! —  Bob & Ali Colarossi

www.EstateCrush.com (Stellina)

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