California wine divides into two camps—the established commercial routes of Napa and Sonoma, and the wild west of everything else. As we broaden our wine-drinking horizons, we learn that low-key pioneers with bold, confident dreams are not just a memory of the early days of the gold rush.
And that just because you are a perfectionist with a track record making world-class wines doesn’t mean you should take yourself too seriously.
Enter the wine-soaked world of Michael David winery in Lodi, California, the reputed “Zinfandel capital of the world”. The winery produces a variety of expressive Zinfandels, Syrahs and Cabernets that thrive in that warm climate.
Brothers Michael and David are fifth-generation winegrowers who have built their Lodi facility into one of the fastest growing wineries in the US. Now celebrating their 26th year in business, the brothers have more than history to show off. Their wines regularly take top awards in wine competitions.
These are the guys responsible for bringing us the Seven Deadly Zins, their most popular Zinfandel—rich, luscious, and super food-friendly. It’s widely available in Boston for around $15. Maybe the fact that it spells out the seven sins in poem form on the back of the label adds to its appeal. (Michael’s son Ken Philips is responsible for all that cool poetry—and he does a fantastic job at that.)
Those funky, memorable names are the winery’s trademark. Seven Deadly Zins has a redemption cousin, a Chardonnay aptly nicknamed Seven Heavenly Chards. Then there’s Earthquake Cabernet. 6th Sense Syrah. Petit/Petit (an uncommon blend of Petit Sirah and Petit Verdot). In fact, all of their wines are blends, as Michael believes blending is the key to skillful winemaking. And the substantial number of over 3,000 wine club members seems to agree. These folks walk the talk.
Why Lodi, though? “In Lodi, we are blessed with the climate”, remarked Michael as I caught him and his wife Kristy for lunch last week on their visit Boston. “It’s pretty consistent.”
Consistent they are. All their wines, with unabashed expressions of big fruit and lavish flavors, remain true to the expression of Lodi terroir. They are not pretending to be from somewhere else—nor in alcohol nor in style nor in the intensity of fruit.
They take a stand. They accurately represent the American spirit with this assertive, take no-prisoners (but keep it casual) mentality. True Californians.