For every dish, there is probably one perfect wine – but for most of us, life is too short to figure out what it is.” - quote from What to Drink with What You Eat
I was pouring wines for a distributor a few years ago at an outdoor event and women kept coming back to my table asking for “the elephant wine.” Of course, they were referring to Michael David’s Petite Petit. They liked the wine, that much was certain. But they were initially attracted to it by the label design. This is not something I guessed at. They told me so. They talked between themselves, and to me, saying “how cute the label is.” Michael David winery is indeed skillful at branding, using catchy names and label designs. They also produce, for example, 7 Deadly Zins, Lust Zinfandel, Comedylicious 2, and Freakshow Cab. Fairness requires I mention they produce many wines, most with more traditional labeling and all at budget-friendly prices: nine reds (as of this writing) and with an average price under $18 U.S.
O.K., so I’m a traditionalist: not a fan of new and trendy labels. I recall one wine (from a different winery) with a name that was such a gross double entendre that, although the wine itself was pretty good, I would never buy it on principle. As with some celebrity branded wines, I resent being played by people that have more confidence in the skill of their marketing than they do in the skill of their wine making.
That, however, is NOT the case with Michael David’s Petitt Petit. The label is not offensive, just “cute.” The name also makes perfect sense (85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot). And, as for the bottle’s content, I don’t think this wine has ever gotten a bad review. Nor is it new to me. I’ve been buying it for years and consider it a staple. It’s delicious by itself and it’s food friendly too. And if the “cute” label spurs sales, and sales keep the price down, maybe it’s time I become a little less stuffy.
From its start in the glass, this squid-ink, opaque, deep purple wine alerts your senses that you’re in for a serious experience. No, not the type of wine you agonize with in viticultural psychoanalysis; the type that requires years of study to describe so that other wine “snobs” will be impressed. No, this wine is simply and immediately pleasurable. Juicy black plum, sweet black cherry and violet entice the nose. The wine is rich, luscious and mouth filling. Threads of smoke attach to the black fruit on the palate. The finish develops some sweetness and heat (14.5% Alc.), building interest. Twelve months in French oak adds tertiary notes of vanilla, toast and chocolate but weaved into and not overpowering the juice. Tannins give the wine substance but are fine. Frankly, this wine over delivers. Consistently.
Most recently, I paired this wine with grilled loin chops of New Zealand lamb accompanied by roasted potatoes and eggplant roasted then cooked with skinned tomatoes. It was a perfect pairing. But I have enjoyed this wine several times with other dishes. I don’t remember the meals, but I do remember the wine.
Grapes are sourced from the Lodi AVA in Central California and the Michael David Winery produces 80,000 cases of Petitt Petit yearly. Given that the wine is 85% Petite Sirah, that’s a serious chunk of Lodi’s Petite Sirah fruit. It’s also a seriously tasty wine and seriously in demand by consumers who know value. (I paid $16). No doubt the number of units of production keep the cost per unit down (this from an Econ guy). But it’s the quality of each unit made vintage after vintage that drives consumer demand. Drink now through the next 5-7 years.
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Varietal: 85% Petite Sirah
Ratings: 92 Wine Enthusiast
90 Robert Parker
Michael David Winery
4580 West Hwy 12
Lodi CA 95242