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.
There always is an adventure waiting when it comes to trying new wines.
While the adventure occasionally proves to be one you’d just as soon miss next time it’s offered, most of the time it’s an adventure worth repeating.
Although I’m not sure it’s considered an adventure the second time around.
Maybe it’s more like falling in love for the second (or third or 20th) time, when it’s the promise of something new and exciting that keeps you on track.
This latest adventure began last winter, arriving in an eight-sided box containing the first of several selections from Octavin’s new Home Wine Bar system of boxed wines.
So far, and six wines into the adventure, it’s been an enjoyable and tasty ride.
Octavin wines (the wine is in a heavy plastic bag, which is inside the eight-sided cardboard box) is produced by Underdog Wine Merchants of Livermore, Cal., who, according to their Web site, are dedicated to offering “unique, esoteric wines that are distinctly characteristic of their origins and variety.”
There’s been a lot written about Underdog and their Octavin wines (check out the media section on the Octavin Web site) in the last six months or so as they’ve become better known and better distributed.
A month or so ago I received the Octavin Silver Birch (N.Z.) 2009 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and then a few days ago, the nice FedEx lady dropped off a box of the Boho Vineyards 2008 California Old Vine Zinfandel.
I opened the Sauvignon Blanc almost immediately, had a couple of glasses, and then kept the wine in the ‘fridge for about 5 weeks. Honest, I didn’t forget it, I was benignly testing the wine’s shelf life, something most boxed wines love to brag about.
Next to the Octavin box was an opened (and re-corked) bottle of SB from another producer, and when I tasted them side by side last week, the bottle was flatter than my 401(k) while the Octavin plastic-sealed wine was fresh and sparkly and wonderfully refreshing on a 98-degree afternoon.
As we all know, light and oxygen are the two greatest enemies of wine, and Octavin’s plastic liner and heavy cardboard box protected the precious liquid inside from both.
Even though I ignored the wine for most of a month, the wine forgave me, retaining its pear and green apple flavors balanced by the minerality (a neat wine-type word that really means something) and crisp acidity associated with the SBs from the cool regions of Marlborough.
The latest newcomer to my wine-storage area in the basement is the Boho Vineyards 2008 California Old Vine Zinfandel. I punched open the box last night and poured a glass, pleased with the big plum and jam fruit flavors and the easy-to-manage tannins that winemaker David Georges coaxed from the grapes.
Another plus is the typical (at least what I think are typical) alcohol levels (13.7-percent, in this case) that make American zinfandels not only food-friendly but also drinker-friendly.
Both wines are priced at $24 for the three-liter box (the equivalent of four .750-liter bottles), which makes this adventure affordable, as well.