Monday, October 21, 2013

Michel-Schlumberger - A Small Vertical

Having spent way too many years reading about wine one subject always fascinated me - a vertical tasting.  A vertical is simply tasting a number of vintages of the same wine at one sitting.  It has always been on my bucket list of life.

We did that Saturday evening with a group of friends when we grilled some steaks and opened five vintages of Michel-Schlumberger Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley.  The vintages ranged from 2004 through 2008, not a huge selection but certainly enough to get an idea of the similarities and differences in a closely related group of wines.  All of these wines came direct from the winery over the course of several years and had been resting in my cellar.

We opened the wines and tasted small samples while the steaks were on the grill.  They were tasted in a youngest to oldest order. There were differences but the similarities far outweighed them.  All the elements were there, dark cherry and red cherry flavors, leather, earth, tannin, and spices, but the proportions were different.  There were definite opinions formed before dinner, but when food became involved some of the opinions changed.

In the end, with six people expressing an opinion five people named the 2007 vintage as their favorite while one opted for the 2005 vintage.  The choice for least favorite was unanimous for the 2008.

Educational and fascinating......

Read more by clicking on "Read more" below
The complete order of preference was 2007, 2005, 2004, 2006 and 2008.

The 2007 wine had the darkest and deepest flavors.  There were some hints of red cherries, but this wine was all about the dark side.  There was ample tannin and acid to support the flavors and it had the longest finish.  No way this wine is at its peak, and fortunately it is the only one of which I have a second bottle. 

The 2005 had a similar flavor profile but there was a bit of leather mixed in and perhaps a little tobacco.  This wine showed more of the brighter red cherry flavor but still was on the darker side.  It was drinking beautifully and was my choice for the best wine before the food, though I wound up preferring the 2007 with the food and overall.

The 2004 was showing a little age.  It was the second darkest of the wines in its flavor profile.  The acid seemed a little lower and that gave the wine a mellow edge.  Good length of flavor and it did get two votes for second favorite.

The 2008 wine was the outlier.   This wine was definitely on the red cherry end of the flavor spectrum.  The acid was most pronounced here and it lacked depth of flavor.  There was a bit of the darker flavors but this was a medium weight wine.  It was a wine I liked but this was perhaps a cabernet sauvignon for a lighter dish than a hearty steak.   

The 2006 seemed to split the difference between the 2008 and the 2007.  The initial flavors were dark, but the lighter red cherries kept floating into the mix.  No question this wine had the most earth and tannin.  This was one of two wines where there was enough left to try the day after and I found it much more balanced as the tannins seemed to ease a little.

All of the wines were between 14.4 and 14.7% alcohol the prices were $35 to $45. 

No comments: