12 August 2011

Michael David Winery

I recently had lunch at the charming Flight with fellow wineblogger Fredric and Mike Phillips, CEO of Michael David Winery. (His brother, David, is the president and completes the winery name.) The logo for the winery is a reference to Mike's extensive corkscrew collection, and I like the simple, elegant design. What's even more interesting is that out of the many wines produced by the winery, there's no standard theme. Each bottle has its own unique and appropriate layout. For a change, all of the images in this post come from the company website as opposed to my own photography. For some tastings, it's not convenient to clear the table and find good lighting.

The Phillips family has been farming in Lodi since the Civil War, and after the establishment of the winery the following generations have continued to work the land. Talking to Mike was interesting, because it's often convenient to forget that with wine, we're talking about an agricultural product. Speaking with him was more like talking to my great uncles and other relatives that grow cotton and corn rather than discussing the end product with a PR rep. Mike grew up on the farm and picked fruit and drove tractors. If you want to talk about terroir, at some point it comes down to muddy boots.

2010 Seven Heavenly Chards
$14, 14.5% abv.
This is a counterpart to the popular Seven Deadly Zins, both of which involve taking grapes from seven different vineyards and making a well balanced wine from them. There's a little butter on toast aroma. The taste is creamy with a touch of peach. Just enough oak to get the point across (30% oak, 70% stainless steel).

2008 Incognito Rouge
$18, 14.5% abv.
21% Syrah, 18% Carignan, 18% Cinsault, 13% Tannat, 11% Souzão, 10% Cab Franc, 6% Mouvedre, 3% Petite Sirah
Tannat and Souzão! The winery is not afraid to experiment with various grapes, and this is a blend that would get you shot in France. I found that this red had a nice cherry and plum aroma. Smooth, medium tannins and a long finish. This would be so wonderful with properly cooked venison.

2009 6th Sense Syrah
$16, 15.5% abv.
Mostly Syrah with a bit of Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot
On the surface this is a classic Syrah: black cherry, black pepper, good dark fruit, long spicy finish. A solid, reliable wine. At times I prefer a more subtle Syrah, but this one would be great at a BBQ or for pizza night or for another casual dinner. It's always fun when you find someone in California that's really into the Rhône style, and folks in the South of France know the joy of a grill and a solid red as well as those of us in the South of... the South.

2008 Petite Petit
85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot
$18, 15% abv.
I'm biased here, because I adore this wine and have loved it every time I've sipped it. Two of my favorite grapes dancing elegantly. Delightful dark fruit, dark berries, not jammy, touch of smoke. Interesting note on this label: when I reviewed this wine last year, the label artist commented on my post.

2006 Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon
Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Petite Sirah
$26, 15% abv.
Here in Memphis we're always wondering about the next big earthquake. We sit on the New Madrid fault, source of the violent quakes of 1811-1812 that were powerful enough to make the Mississippi River run backwards and screwed up the state borders. This wine is a far more quiet and pleasant experience. It is light with a mild body of cherry and licorice. Tannins were bit strong at first, but after an hour this had mellowed out considerably. I think this one will be much better after an additional three or four years in the bottle.

Note: These wines were received as samples.


fredric koeppel said...

That was a good lunch and a nice way to taste wines and talk with you and Mike. Thnx for the mention. The wines tend to be a bit over the top in alcohol and ripeness, yet they always manage to remain true to the essence of the grapes and an idea of the product. I was surprised, for example, that the chardonnay turned out to be well-balanced. P/P is always a favorite.

Randy Fuller said...

Good to see Michael-David getting some Memphis love! I'm a big fan of Lodi in general, and Michael-David in particular. Love the Earthquakes (the wines, not the natural disaters.)

Benito said...


With such a wide range of products, there's bound to be something that meets every palate. I'm looking forward to tasting more of them in the future.


Glad to hear it, and I hope you get to meet Mike some day if you haven't already. Great guy.

We're a little leery of earthquakes out here, sitting on the powerful New Madrid fault. There are tiny quakes all the time, but we're all waiting for The Big One like back in 1811 that made the Mississippi River run backwards and changed borders, created lakes, and all kinds of other things in a very short period of time.