Not Schlumming

This is a powerful, blisteringly-rich cabernet, and I can’t help but think how fun this would be to taste alongside Ridge ‘Estate’ cab–one of my favorite wines and an absolute BARGAIN compared to Monte Bello prices these days. Dense and dark–nearly impenetrable blood-ruby–glass-staining with pink legs flowing down every surface. Dirty, dusty nose, packed with gritty black cherry and the kind of spice in concentration a select few Napa or Sonoma’s are capable of. The earthy green briar just goes on and on, with blackberry, cassis, sun-baked volcanic, licorice, sarsaparilla and heady blood-orange rounding out the classic coastal mountain typicity. Decanted heavily.

Tasting it approaches mind-numbing levels: the entry cool and restrained, sweet and fruity, pausing momentarily before blasting every orifice with pure cab nuance. The cherry and berry have ridiculous grainy spirit, sharp and focused, packed with layers of flavor nearly impossible to break down in English. The middle goes bitter-hot: this is definitely a bit *hot*, but the heat is so well integrated with green, sharp vegetal and weedy tannin, the lines are blurred. Blurry also is your vision as the tannin takes grip on the mouth-feel. This thing is a MONSTER, but not in *Bigger is Better* or “I like bold cabs” ways: it’s eye-crossingly tannic, but the level of surf-sand minerality and savory high-elevation ire built into it merely accentuate the fruit.

Long a stalwart of bargain, sometimes strangely-named red-blends and well-made but inexpensive and un-invigorating Pinot, this is far-and-away the finest wine I have had from this label–and I’ve been a decent fan for 30 years. And I just saw the alcohol–HOLY SHIT–and am surprised but not shocked. The buttery roundness buried inside and heated texture don’t lie–though it pulls it off miraculously. You can’t TOUCH this wine for the price–no way, can’t do it–if you run into it buy as much as you can fit in the trunk of your Kia. This is a 15+ anomaly I will bet the bank on for 2 decades. It happens.

2018 MICHEL-SCHLUMBERGER ‘Benchland Gold Collection’ Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mtns. 15.4

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