The Freakshow Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon, along with a small amount of Petit Sirah, is sourced from a Michael & David Winery estate vineyard in Lodi AVA of California’s Central Valley. Michael and David are the Phillips brothers and their family has farmed in Lodi since the 1850s. Most of the West Coast grape-growing regions are located along the Pacific Coast, from Oregon to California, with Lodi being one of the few exceptions. Lodi is south and east of Napa, with the vineyards located in the river deltas that stem from the San Pablo Bay (the Northern portion of the San Francisco Bay). This unique geographic feature funnels cool air and morning fog into an area that under different conditions would not be suitable to grow wine grapes. That is not to say this is now a cool weather region, the tasting notes indicate it was a great growing vintage because the temperature only went over 100 degrees eight times. It can get hot during the summer if the nights are significantly cooler and the morning fog delays the days soaring temperatures.
This Cabernet Sauvignon was aged in 40% new French oak barrels and 60% neutral barrels for 12 months. A typical wine barrel can be used for 4 or 5 vintages before it no longer passes oak influence and flavors into the wine, at that point, it is considered neutral. It is often a complex math problem for the winemaker to achieve the desired amount of oak for a particular wine, 25% new, 30% one use, 40% 3rd use, and 5% neutral is the sort of thing they do to dial in just the right amount. So, if neutral barrels don’t impart any flavor, why use them? A winemaker told me that when they age the wine in stainless steel tanks no air (oxygen) can get to the wine, but with an oak barrel a tiny amount of air can seep in and that small amount of air interacts with the wine. The wine aged in a barrel is slightly different than wine aged in stainless steel and with wine, small differences mean a lot. The alcohol content is 14.5%.
The Tasting Notes
The color is garnet red with black highlights. The nose is sweet blueberry, extracted blackberry, light baking spice, black cherry, dark chocolate, menthol, and vanilla. The Cabernet has a soft, but chewy mouthfeel, the rounded flavors are upfront and the tart flavors on the mid-palate. It starts with blackberry, black pepper, licorice, tart cherry, chocolate powder, and plum. The mid-palate adds cranberry, spice (with a little bite), creamy blueberry, orange zest, and cinnamon. The tannins are smooth and the acidity allows all the flavors (and there is a lot of flavors) to unfold. The finish is surprisingly mild and subtle but does last.
- Yes, Lodi is primarily known for Zinfandel, but I think it provides great value for drink-it-now Cabernet Sauvignon. Yes, it is riper than Napa, Sonoma, and Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, but Lodi Cabs sure do taste good.
- The Freakshow Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon is a delicious estate-grown Cab at a value price. I found it for $15 on sale and that is a bargain for estate fruit, French oak, and a top-quality winery.