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I never take meeting a winemaker or winery owner for granted. Getting to meet these people and learning about wine and their personal story is my favorite part of wine writing.
Unfortunately, most wine drinkers don’t get these opportunities unless they go to high-ticket wine dinners or have a networking connection in wine country.
Michael Phillips with his signature Seven Deadly Zins
Michael Phillips, of Michael David Winery, is visiting Indiana this week and his PR firm offered me the chance to taste some wines and talk with Michael. I jumped at the chance because my schedule allowed it to work.
While you may not have heard of Michael David Winery, it’s a safe bet you’ve seen its flagship wine if you frequent wine shops. The winery produces around 300,000 cases of wine each year with the bulk of that being Seven Deadly Zins. And if you’re more than a casual wine drinker you may be familiar with the Earthquake label as well.
Michael, and his brother David, are family winemakers living off land farmed by their family since the 1860s. I’m going to transcribe my chat with Michael for a future newspaper column but wanted to share the experience here through the blog as well.
Michael David Winery is a big success story in recent years of plenty of bust. They make great value, big-flavored wines for under $20.
The family farm is in California’s Lodi region which most people know as Zinfandel country but the area produces lots of different wines.
Phillips filled in plenty of the backstories of his wines, family history, and winemaking approach. He personally gave up the winemaking a few years ago but still sits in on the final blending processes.
I’ll comment on the wines I tasted in the newspaper column but I’ve always been a fan of the two mentioned above. Monday evening I tasted their Incognito red and while Rhone-style blends. I loved the white and thought the red was okay. The very reasonably priced 6th Sense Syrah is one of the best value wines at $15 I’ve tasted in ages.
I also was treated to Michael’s personal project and favorite, Rapture Cabernet. This is a beautiful Bordeaux style $65 cab that would stand up to anything out of Napa at the same price point. It was a double gold medal winner at the 2012 S.F. Chronicle wine competition. It was gorgeous Cabernet.

 Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com

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