The Ones That Got Away – Fall 2016

2013 Judge & Jury Red Blend, Kunde Family Estate, Sonoma County, California, USA; 2011 Lamole Gran Selezione Chianti, Italy; 2014 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA; 2014 Toasted Head Chardonnay, California, USA.

2013 Judge & Jury Red Blend, Kunde Family Estate, Sonoma County, California, USA; 2011 Lamole Gran Selezione Chianti, Italy; 2014 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA; 2014 Toasted Head Chardonnay, California, USA.

2014 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery

Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in a blind taste test for the 2014 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, a great experience on multiple levels. One of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was the tasty reminder of how enjoyable the Michael David Petite Petit is. For those of you interested in Caymus’ big fruit explosion but not the accompanying price tag, look no further than the 2014 Petite Petit.

2014 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

2014 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

Those reading Notes for an extended period know that the 2014 Petite Petit is almost a vertical for me, as I have sampled too the 2013 and 2011 vintages. Each has been great, a surplus of red berry, currant, and cherry flavors that unfold on the tongue. It pours almost a red-black syrup, fragrant (is that pepper?) and inviting. If you like rich, full reds without heavy tannins this could ring every bell for you.

This evening the Petite Petit (15% Verdot) accompanied grilled chicken strips, side salad with fresh ground pepper and home-grown basil, steamed broccoli, and white rice. Interesting contrast of flavors, this mix of the fruity red and the salted starch, and one I’d gladly repeat.

How is it that you may know Michael David Winery already? In February of this year, Michael David was named the 2015 Winery of the Year at the 2016 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. This Lodi-based operation produces over 600,000 cases of wine annually, including its 7 Deadly Zins flagship Zinfandel. This was the #1-selling Zinfandel of 2015, but I have yet to sample. Looking forward to that, though…

Thanks, Michael and David Phillips for some bottled magic. I enjoy this one each year!


2012 The Aristocrat, Buena Vista

The Aristocrat is one of the finest wines I’ve ever enjoyed, and it’s going right onto Notes‘ Top Five Reds list. It’s really special. This 2012 is the inaugural vintage, and it’s already sold out at Buena Vista so coming by this gem will not be easy–yet a worthwhile pursuit if you’re even remotely inclined toward great wine.

2012 The Aristocrat, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2012 The Aristocrat, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

The 2012 Aristocrat is more cherry and blueberry in its flavor. It is crazy smooth, packed full of fruit, and has a spectacular, even finish. There is not even a hint of sharpness, of tannins, of the need for time the way you often get with a Bordeaux or similarly styled red blend. It has great legs, and a jammy color that you’ll find–like its bouquet–extremely enticing.

My wife and I enjoyed this 2012 from a mountainside cabin in western NC, along with a rack of ribs (that’s a dry rub you see in the photo) and a salad featuring some vegetables we picked up fresh at a roadside farm stand.

The team at Buena Vista did not assemble this winner haphazardly–it is filled with purpose and intention. It features Valdiguie (a first for me?), Petit Verdot, and Charbono grapes, each harvested from vineyards in Napa Valley’s Calistoga AVA.  Believe it or not, the vines of the Valdiguie, located at the base of the Vaca Mountains, date back before Prohibition. Poking through the Buena Vista website, I also relay to you that the Charbono is grown on one of Napa’s last remaining Charbono vineyards. This amazing wine is aged (in separate lots) in 100% French oak for 16 to 18 months before being blended.

Special thanks to my mother for presenting us with this amazing housewarming gift. We are thrilled at the reason you selected the 2012 Aristocrat, and thrilled too at the occasion to enjoy it. Hope we brought just a little bit of that back to you in the recap and the photos!

Notes’ Top 5 Wine Surprises of 2014

Notes Of Note shared feedback on all kinds of wine in 2014. Some, like any Buena Vista offering or the Laurent-Perrier, are great grapes and would class up any occasion or event. This is not a “best of” list, though, but instead a quick thumbnail of several beverages that exceeded expectations or earned a raised eyebrow upon consuming. Put any of these on your “to do” lists and enjoy the year ahead:

  • 2011 Boom Boom! Syrah. Packed full of spices and reminds me of great summer fun with friends at Lake Gaston.
  • 2012 Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s name feels gimmicky, but the wine holds its own against much pricier boutique bottles from California.
  • 2012 Mumm Napa Cuvee, M Sparkling Wine. The champagne approach is executed well and, interestingly, the celebratory beverage of the 2014 World Series champs.
  • 2011 Petite Petit. Best recommendation I received all year (thanks Winestore) and so much crazy fruit flavor in one fun-labeled bottle. Bet you go back for more after you have your first…
  • 2010 Summation Red Wine Blend. Kendall-Jackson is no small, secret “back room” operation but this blend was a gem that I’d never heard of before and knocked my socks off.

Thanks to everyone who shared bottles and good times over our glasses in 2014. Hoping your own celebrations tonight include good grapes and cheers to you all for a happy, healthy 2015.

2011 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery

As part of a (long overdue!) Lake Gaston weekend with lifelong friends, I planned to swing out and pick up several wines that had earned recent accolades in our home. One of them was the 2011 Petite Petit from Michael David Winery, a veritable juice bomb hidden in these cheery elephant-decorated bottles. Thankfully I pulled this last bottle–and several other fun options–from the shelves at Winestore and couldn’t wait to share.

2011 Petite Petit Michael David Winery Lodi California USA.

2011 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

The weather was not cooperative by the dinner hour (as shown in this photo) but the 2011 Petite Petit was a burst of sun and flavor against the thundering skies and rain-spattered windows of our weekend rental. We poured a first glass, passed tastings around, and saw lots of nodding heads as each taster caught a whiff then a taste of all dark fruits of this Syrah/Verdot blend. Multiple glasses followed in swift succession. I’m not sure if everyone could taste the hint of charcoal that I described, but I’d enjoyed a bottle previously and sort of knew what to expect from this deep, rich red. I also knew we’d kill the bottle quickly, and indeed we did, our tanned faces smiling in enjoyment.

The Petite Petit was essentially gone before the dinner hour–grilled fare and delicious cold salads of pasta and potato–but it did give us ample opportunity to delve into other new favorites. Lots of new fans of the 2011 vintage after this evening!