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A brief sampling of Lodi wines

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The entertaining label from the Michael David 2010 Freakshow Cab hints that this isn’t your typical California cabernet sauvignon or typical winery, for that matter.

It’s getting late – not in the day but in the year – and I’m catching up with some of the bottles sitting empty around my place.

Winter came late for western Colorado. A couple of weeks ago it still was 50 degrees in mid-afternoon but that changed just in time for a white Christmas. As I write this, there is light snow and 11 degrees headed south to around  zero.

Which means I’m looking for something a bit stouter than pinot grigio to put in my class. Not that I have anything against pinot gris/grigio; it’s a great summer/fall wine.

But it’s obviously not summer.

I recently received a some samples from Michael David Winery, the Lodi, Cal. winery named after brothers Michael J. and David J. Phillips. The Phillips family farm dates to the 1860s according to the winery website, and while it mostly grew vegetables, the operation survived Prohibition by growing “15 different wine varietals that were shipped throughout the country during Prohibition with instructions on ‘how not to have the grapes turn into wine’.”

Michael started the winery in 1984 and now he and David are the fifth generation of Phillips to farm the land. Their aim, according to the website, is “to show the world of wine drinkers that wines made from Lodi grapes can compete against wines from anywhere in the world.”

Incognito 2010 Red Wine – A complex blend of seven varietals based on syrah (40 percent), this wine offers the cherry and dark berry flavors along with a hint of spice. Medium tannins, 14.5 alcohol. $18. There also is an Incognito white blend.

Sixth Sense 2010 Syrah – Syrah is a favorite varietal at Michael David and these vines date from 1982, making them some of the oldest syrah vines in the California. Sort of named after Michael’s son Kevin, now the sixth generation of Phillips growing grapes. Syrah with some “Petite Sirah blended in,” according to the press sheet.

Big, bold and intense with dark-red cherry and plum fruit, a bit of smoke, coffee but still a balance of acid and tannins. 15.5% alcohol.  88 points from Wine Spectator, July 2012. $16.

Freakshow 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – The only wine I can think of with a subtitle, in this case “A ‘Michael David Joint’.”

Michael David makes big wines and this is one of their biggest. Big-bodied but not overwhelming, with dark cherry, spice, blackberry, a hint of dried raisins and dark oak. Mellow tannins. Would have been great with barbecue last summer. Or next. 14.5% alc. $20.

7 Deadly Zins – The brothers Phillips call this their flagship zin and it’s lived up to that with steady consistency. It feels like a bit hotter alcohol than the 15% alcohol on the label but that’s just being picky. True to the varietal with plenty of berry fruits, pepper and spice. $16.

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