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Michel-Schlumberger Benchland Wine Estate

Michel-Schlumberger Benchland Wine Estate The estate was founded in 1979 and named Domaine Michel by Jean-Jacques Michel. A native of Switzerland, Michel formed a special attachment to Sonoma County. After a two-year search, he planted his roots in Dry Creek Valley because of its cooler microclimates and its abundance of well-defined benchlands (his model was as much the uplifted benches of the Médoc Peninsula as Napa's Rutherford Bench). He found a series of benchland soils in the Valley's Wine Creek Canyon with excellent exposures that were especially well contoured for growing grapes. With his partner Ridgely Bullock, Michel planted fifty acres of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and chardonnay-uncommon varieties for Dry Creek Valley, then and now. From 1979 to 1993, Jean-Jacques Michel served as Chairman of Domaine Michel. In 1991 Jacques Schlumberger joined Michel and Bullock as a minority partner and in 1993 he took the reins as majority partner and president. He put together a new marketing team, redesigned the label, and cleared the decks for the emerging Benchland Wine Estate of Michel-Schlumberger.

Take route 101 north to Dry Creek Rd exit. Turn left going west on Dry Creek Rd for 3.5 miles. Turn left on Lambert Bridge Rd at Dry Creek General Store. Cross bridge and turn right on West Dry Creek Rd. Go short distance. Turn left on Wine Creek Rd. Winery is located 1/2 mile on Wine Creek Rd.

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4155 Wine Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA, US, 95448 Email:
Phone: 800-447-3060 Web:
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  Cabernet Sauvignon
Heritage clones, and varieties that have become so ancient they are novel again, ground this Cabernet in the tradition that identified the red blends from Bordeaux as truly great wines. Cabernet Sauvignon is an old variety that has developed many variations over the years. Keeping with tradition, we have blended a number of these selections with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmen to make a wine with enveloping depth and intriguing subtle flavors, more than the sum of its components. Each variety has outstanding attributes, but the blend is a complete wine, seamless and balanced.
By 2003, the closely-spaced plantings of Dijon clones growing on the hillsides of our estate vineyards no longer deserve to be called new. That is evident in the unusually rich mid-palate and classic flavors of this vintage. It suggests sweetness where there is no sugar. Sure, it’s showing the subtle aromas of citrus, guava and mango in addition to those of dried flowers and minerals that have distinguished our previous Chardonnays. However, it is the paradox of a delicate aroma in a big wine that identifies the grape as a noble variety. Extract like this is an immediately appealing characteristic available only in the finest Chardonnays. If you buy enough to age some for six to eight years, you will be rewarded with a toasty hazelnut aroma along with increased minerality and even more weight on the palate. Tasting it now suggests pairing with a fresh halibut steak lightly sauced with freshly made ponzu or a reduced wine based drizzle. Or try chicken with pasta and lemon sauce or olive oil, or even vegetables grilled with a little smoked duck. The imagination is the only limit. The wine is quite versatile.
  La Brume Chardonnay
Vintage 2004 favored the dried flower, tarragon, quince and dried apricot side of the complex Chardonnay aromas. It expresses the minerality found in other wines from our vineyard, as well as freshness from the cool marine night air much like our Pinot Blanc. This is a Californian that will compliment fish in any style. The delicate aroma will stand up to lighter herbed dishes. If you are looking for butter and wood aromas, you’ll have to reach for the wood oven baked bread and a pat of nice butter. Those elements are not outstanding in the aromas of this wine.
  Maison Rouge
Maison Rouge, our "house red," is layered with bright fruit flavors of cherry, red raspberry and the earthy terroir that distinguish our fine varietal wines. This smooth, satisfying blend is made from several Rhone grape varieties along with others known for making full, fruity wines. It’s a collection designed to be versatile at the table. The color of this wine is deep and inviting. The fruit aromas are full and grapey with friendly cherry and blackberry qualities. The flavors are freely compatible with just about anything that happens to be in the refrigerator. It's slightly smoky and has an edge of aromatic herbs that can make a simple meal quite special. The finish is full and soft. All things considered, it's the perfect house red.
Toasty chocolate, violets and aromatics of leather and cedar make the jam-like berry and cherry fruit more interesting and longer lasting. A little Malbec with its unique spice and expansive fruit make it even more exotic. It’s an easy-to-like Merlot with unique expression of terroir that even Miles might like.
  Pinot Blanc
Our Pinot Blancs are always refreshing wines with racy fruit, quite showy but not over-the-top. There is elegance in its finesse. Pinot Blanc thrives in a cool site like our hillsides near the ocean, where all varieties ripen slowly, bringing ripe flavors without excessive sugar. We slowly ferment the Pinot Blanc to feature the minerally citrus aroma. It is crisp with an aroma suggesting peach and citrus blossoms, Crenshaw melon, grapefruit and tangerine. Since the wine is made without barrels, those floral and fruit elements remain prominent. In fact, this is the only wine of ours that I recommend well chilled. It is a natural choice to serve with oysters or Thai food.
  Pinot Noir
Our 2003 Pinot Noir has a little grip and will age for several years. However, it will soften rapidly in the next few months. Within minutes of first opening, the wine in the glass will express its vibrant Bing cherry, blackberry and raspberry fruit impression. A subtle earthy-mineral aroma adds some classic highlights to the background and aftertaste. A high-tone floral, rose-like perfume fills the glass and trails off into the room. Open it, explore the intriguing aromas while enjoying it with some full-flavored fish, perhaps the fresh salmon that has just come in season. Let a little wine remain in the bottle to taste the next day and discover the broad flavors and silky texture that will dominate in a few months.
  Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Northern California’s vintage 2000 Cabernets are wines of finesse rather than power. Our 2000 Reserve is a good example of classic expression of cabernet. Our winery’s benchland vineyard expresses fruit in a very individual manner with complementing spicy aromatics and pleasant earthy flavors. The best vineyards present the winemaker with many elements becoming parallel themes that can contribute to a very satisfying composition. The outstanding feature of our 2000 Reserve Cabernet is the quality of its composition. Coming from a classically styled vintage, broad aesthetic bandwidth defines this Reserve Cabernet. Its aromas focus on the classic ripe blackberry and cherry but the beauty of the underlying aromatic notes are almost distracting. Suggestions of bay, allspice and cedar can appear at any sip. At every tasting, I find something different to enjoy.
Harmony and balance distinguish this Syrah. Think of a bowl of berries and dark fruit. At one bite the impression of raspberries sticks with you. With another it may be Bing cherries, blueberries, cassis or blackberries. Ripe as it is, the aroma of white pepper, aromatic herbs and light smoke fill in behind the fruit. It has good texture on the palate where gentle tannic structure and acidity blend with the ample alcohol, to taste rich and full. The aftertaste is long and fruity.


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