Unfortunately, I don’t see many of the second label wines in stores often enough. But when I do, I buy what I see. And buy it again.
This vintage of the Michel-Schlumberger Maison Rouge has rich, ripe, red fruit and soft tannins, and it’s likely more zinfandel than anything else. But the wine isn’t over the top or too ripe, in the way of some cheap red blends and zinfandels. Plus, the finish is just tart enough so the wine isn’t cloying.
Highly recommended. This is fall barbecue wine, and you can even chill it a touch.
The Michel-Schlumberger sauvignon blanc is entry level white wine that shows what a top-notch producer can do for $10
Michel-Schulumberger is a top-notch California producer that still makes entry-level wines – a wonderfully old-fashioned approach that has gone out of style thanks to premiumization and California real estate prices. I’ve praised the $15 red blend, and the Michel-Schlumberger sauvignon blanc is just as well done.
The Michel-Schlumberger sauvignon blanc ($10, purchased, 13.5%) is varietally correct and well-made California sauvignon blanc. It doesn’t taste like it came from New Zealand or was tarted up with oak or sugar to get a higher score or to impress a focus group. It’s just what it should be for a wine at this price: Fresh and clean, with that tell-tale grassy aroma that earmarks California sauvignon blanc, some lime fruit in the middle, and a bit of minerality on the back.
How does the winery do it? This isn’t a $50 estate wine; rather, it’s a California appellation, where the grapes come from the less expensive parts of the state and the winery crafts something that’s worth buying and drinking for $10. Would that more producers still did this.
One of the Wine Curmudgeon’s regular laments is that it’s much too difficult to find well-priced and interesting California wine, and especially red California wine. Which made me so happy to stumble on the Michel-Schlumberger Maison Rouge — litterally, since it was buried on a bottom shelf and I had get down on my knees to pick it up.
What makes the Maison Rouge ($14, purchased, 13.9%) so interesting? For one thing, it’s wonderfully stinky, with that barnyard aroma that the French do so well in the Rhone. For another, it’s a seven-grape blend where none dominate, each adding a little something to the mix. Who’d have thought carmenere would feel at home in a California red blend? Look for red fruit (cherry? raspberry?), some much welcome earthiness, and pinpoint tannins. If you’re looking for a house wine, this would be an excellent choice — nice on its own, but also fine with most red meat, roast chicken, and even hearty vegetables.