2016 Vice Meets Virtue

This is essentially the first Moscato-style wine reviewed in Notes, so base any next steps accordingly…I am researching the muscat grape as we go along here so thanks for accompanying me on this journey. Long-time readers know I’d normally drift more toward a red for a Saturday night, yet it’s great to have an open mind and to celebrate someone else’s taste…particularly because my favorite wine is usually “any wine that’s shared”.

Okay, with that said, Vice Meets Virtue is a semi-sweet spritzer with a little nod toward Chardonnay and carries notes of citrus and pear. By contrast to a high-tannin red, it is crazy light and crisp. It’s not quite a Prosecco but within hailing distance if that makes sense. One of the reasons we’re drinking Vice is because they proudly tout “no sugar added” and in part because the brand name is…well…spot on. Vice and virtue? Nodding. Sounds perfect.

2016 Vice Meets Virtue, Bon Affair, Lodi, California, USA.

2016 Vice Meets Virtue, Bon Affair, Lodi, California, USA.

This muscat reminds me of a Riesling…while it is far less sweet than that grape, both wines are summer-facing in my humble opinion. The word muscat is the Italian name for Muscat Blanc, a grape that extends out into sparkling, still, pink, red (aka “black muscat”), and muscat dessert wines. The Vice Meets Virtue I’d classify in the sparking category and has only about 50% of the calories of a red, and low alcohol (5.5% vs. 13% ABV in a regular wine) content for sure. Worried about a hangover after a day of poolside drinking? This might be a way you stack the deck in your favor…

My local wine store had Vice Meets Virtue in limited quantities, so I’m not sure how easy it will be for you to put your hands on one. More important? Focus less on the specific wine and more on having an open mind for new things and celebrating shared experiences.

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2016 6th Sense Syrah, Michael David Winery

All things Michael David turn my head. That goes for their Petite Petit (which I’ve been drinking since the ’11 vintage) and Freakshow (yes the red and Cab) in particular, and even my favorite cellar defender–the market-leading 7 Deadly Zins. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the 6th Sense makes an appearance on Notes.

2016 6th Sense Syrah, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

2016 6th Sense Syrah, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

It’s an affordable Syrah bottle, capturing grapes sourced from the Phillips family vineyard that is just a stone’s throw from the Michael David winery. The wine is aged 14 months in French oak, and the ’16 vintage was originally bottled in December of 2017. It has not had that long to set up but makes a good impact on your evening. You get the usual red berry richness of a Michael David, that fruit-forward ‘pow’, as well as the spicy underpinnings and earthiness that you’re seeking in a Syrah. I’ve sampled probably 50 or more (some 40+ are currently posted here on Notes) Syrahs since starting on this vino adventure, and this holds up pretty well to bottles with heavier price tags. Like other Michael David wines, it does forgo nuance for a sledgehammer of fruit flavor, but at this price tag you’ll appreciate it.

Tasting notes from the winery claim, “…the 2016 Syrah shows stunning depth and balance in its youth and will continue to evolve in comings years.” And I’m sure that, while sort of general wine-speak, it’s an accurate call. Most people will opt to uncork and go right at the 6th Sense (as I did) rather than store it but an interesting thought nevertheless. I had my bottle with a well-appointed garden salad (inclusive of mushroom, yellow onion, green olive, and fresh ground black pepper) and chicken breasts and it was an easy sipping wine. I’ll surely do it again and am interested in your thoughts, fans, as always.

2014 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery

The Petite Petit is a fruit bomb, as Notes readers have seen previously, and this reviewer asserts that it stacks up favorably to some of California’s best-recognized red blends–Caymus being one such example. This is a 2014 Petite Petit, and was used to counterpunch an earthy meal that will be detailed below.

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

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

The Petite Petit is 85% Petite Sirah / 15% Petit Verdot–and red, juicy goodness. Michael David Winery produces this blend as well as the Freakshow and 7 Deadly Zins that you can see on your grocery wine shelves or your favorite wine store. All three are welcome in this house any time and should be for you too. Whenever you see the big red 7 or circus stuff on a label just grab it, put it in your cart, and thank me later.

Why pull the Petite tonight? Simple – this delic dish called for a “lush and fruity” red and I can think of few better options for that prescription. The 2014 is no longer available if you’re ordering direct from the winery, but I’m sure the 15 mashes together red berries and peppery accents just like this vintage. This bottle accompanied a big bowl of French green lentils, sautéed spinach, and diced tomatoes and cucumbers. Throw in a chopped shallot, a few garlic cloves, red wine vinegar, and some Dijon mustard and you have a dish that is both filling and refreshing.

So is the wine. It’s aged 13 months in French oak and hails from the Lodi appellation, a dark red gem that tumbles fragrant and fruity in your glass. Always a treat and hope you find time to enjoy one today.

2014 Freakshow Red Wine, Michael David Winery

It is no secret that I am a fan of the Michael David WineryNotes has featured the Petite Petit with regularity over the years, and I recently tasted their best-selling zinfandel too with much enjoyment. When my father mentioned having sampled their Freakshow I knew it had to be part of my next wine tasting experience, and here we are.

2014 Freakshow, Michael David Winery, California, USA.

2014 Freakshow Red Wine, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

You’re going to love this wine. It has elements common the Petite, particularly its mash-up of different tastes and flavors, but this one is less jammy and has a bit more heft to it. A little more spice and chew. The 2014 Freakshow has more dark fruits, black berry and black cherry, with some dark chocolate underpinnings. In that way it sort of reminded me of the Apothic Dark that I sampled in Chicago many moons ago, but at a higher level of execution. I was not sure what grapes comprised this red blend, but surely it has some Syrah (yes) involved and a quick bit of research shows there is some Petite Sirah as well. I have no idea what the Souzao grape is, but some of that’s in the mix too. Incredibly rich and unmistakably Michael Davis in all ways.

Here is the winemaker’s explanation of what’s going on in the 2014 Freakshow Red Wine: “Aromas of blackberry cobbler, toasted walnuts, espresso bean, and hints of brandy. The wine is weighty with a velvet-like texture boasting flavors of ripe brambleberry jam, toffee, and dark chocolate mousse followed by wisps of pipe tobacco and mesquite.

They do have a way with words–and wines. This 2014 was aged both in French oak barrels (15 months) and American oak (18 months), and I’d like another already.

2013 Freakshow Cabernet, Michael David Winery, California, USA.

2013 Freakshow Cabernet, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

My first shot at the Freakshow actually dates back to September, when I pulled the cork on their 2014 Freakshow Cabernet. This too hails from the Lodi-based winemaker and it is similarly excellent. Lots of cherry in this solid Cabernet, but my notes from that time are less specific other than to say it was a great value and accompanied a delicious grilled steak and asparagus side. Have to get another one of these soon too! This winery always stands tall and will definitely go on the “must visit” list for the next time life winds me through California wine country.

 

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!