Michel-Schlumberger Dry Creek 'La Revolution' Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
By Jonathan H. Newman*
MICHEL SCHLUMBERGER ESTATE 'La Revolution' Dry Creek Valley 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
UNIT SIZE: 750.00ml
VARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon
GRAPE: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot
COUNTRY: United States
REGION: Dry Creek Valley
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 13.90%
This is winemaker Kerry Damskey's smallest production Reserve-level Estate Cabernet that he makes for Michel-Schlumberger. I sat down this summer to first sample this wine with Kerry and he explained that this is made from select barrels and several of his favorite vineyards owned by Schlumberger. There is much that is unique and distinctive about Michel-Schlumberger's Benchland Estate Cabernet. It is made primarily from the distinctive Jackson clone 6, which dates back to pre-Phylloxera and is now rarely found in Napa and Sonoma Valley. The clone is unique for its tiny berries with very intense and concentrated fruit. The wine is all organically farmed, from benchland and hillside vineyards, completely Estate grown and all from the Dry Creek Valley. It was aged for 2 years in 35% new oak before being bottled in November, 2013. An attractive dark red hue with garnet highlights. An elegant Cabernet nose with black raspberry, plum, and mocha with nice touches of toasty vanilla oak and red flowers. A nicely made Cab with expressive suave fruit on the palate including dark cherry liqueur, blackberry cream, dark raspberry and cassis with vanilla and floral notes. The wine was just bottled so give it a little time but it can be enjoyed early and for many years to come. Pair with Filet Mignon, Veal chops, Baby back ribs, grilled Portobello mushrooms in a wine reduction, and spaghetti Bolognese. Sampled in September 2013 out of barrel and in November, 2013 bottled with consistent tasting notes. 980 cases were produced.
2011 'La Révolution' Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley
81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Syrah, 5% Petit Verdot.
This 2011 La Révolution Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of the finest blocks of our mountain-top and benchland vineyards. Components of our estate Syrah and Petit Verdot complement the fruit, structure and depth of this wine.
A late frost resulted in a reduced grape yield. Moderate summer and fall temperatures made for a very long ripening season. The combination of small yields and long “hang time” generated exceptionally concentrated flavors at ripeness.
Oct 1st to Nov 2nd, 2011.
The grapes were crushed into small open top fermenters. After cold-soaking for three days to extract rich color, the must fermented with native yeast. After fermentation, the wine was gently pressed out, settled, and racked into barrels. 100% malolactic fermentation.
The wine was aged for 24 months in French and American oak barrels (35% new).
Color: Deep ruby
Aromas: Rich aromas of black currant, dark plum and spice.
Palate: Concentrated flavors of black currant and plum. Rich, long fruit finish.
Final Technical Info
TA: 0.60 g/100ml
Average Brix: 24.7
Bottling Date: October 29, 2013
Cases Produced: 980
[Information provided by J.H.N.]
The special growing conditions of Dry Creek Valley give its wines a character of elegance. The relatively cool growing season nourishes a distinctive balance in the Valley's grapes, ripening them slowly and evenly. The French would say point, or just right. Both red and white wine grapes retain a measure of acidity, lending themselves to making exuberant wines with lively flavors. The red wine grapes also typically have healthy levels of tannins. These are unabashed tannins, and the better Cabernets in particular wear them like a nicely tailored suit. Acidity provides freshness and lift; tannins provide immense flavor interest that bring a person back again and again. Both allow a wine to age handsomely. Notched into the western edge of Dry Creek Valley like a small amphitheater, Wine Creek Canyon nicely sets the stage for ripening point. The Canyon juts into the coastal range just at Dry Creek's temperate mid-section, piercing the Valley's western flank. Michel-Schlumberger's rolling benches buttress the Canyon's northern hillsides, and generally slope south, an exposure that gives them a full day's worth of sun. At the same time, vineyards on these benches are closer to the ocean than most-the Pacific is only seventeen miles away. Shortly after five o'clock the ocean air arrives, and during the ripening season Michel-Schlumberger's vineyards are among the first to cool down. At the end of a working day, if you were to walk along the forest at the western edge of our vineyards, you would experience this change of climate firsthand. It is the time of day when the sun has closed upon the horizon and shadows are cast long over the vines. Ahead, on the terraced uplands to the north, grow the treasured Jackson clones of cabernet. Most of those vines are still in sunlight, and should you step out into that light, you would feel the heat of a western day. But here in the shadows a distinctly cool and constant breeze has begun to flow out of the trees and into the vineyards. This breeze feels remarkably like air conditioning. Its noteworthy cooling power goes a long way toward explaining how grapes in this little pocket canyon can ripen fully, and succulently, without losing their composure.
*Jonathan Newman was Wine Enthusiasts’ Man of the Year. He also was Chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, and received national recognition in Marvin Shanken’s Market Watch Magazine and many other international wine publications. He was also awarded the Guild of Sommeliers highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Newman's reviews have been published and quoted extensively online and in print. He travels extensively to many of the major wine growing regions and evaluates many of the wines we source from smaller and boutique wineries. We interact closely with him and the result is his rejection rate of over 96% of the wines evaluated.