Sunday, November 11, 2007

2004 Blackbird Vineyard Merlot

Oak Knoll is one of those newer AVAs — less than two years of history — that people feel fashionable talking about. Lofty comparisons have been made between Oak Knoll and Pomerol and we are just starting to see some Merlot’s out of the appellation that may be positioned to put Napa’s fourteenth AVA on the international wine map. It is no coincidence, then, that Blackbird Merlot is produced exclusively from grapes from the Oak Knoll district.

Blackbird Vineyards began as a source of fruit for some of Napa’s most renowned wines and winemakers, notably Mia Klein of Dalla Valle, who created a Blackbird designate for her own Selene label Merlot in 1999. In 2003, the vineyard was purchased by an entrepreneur named Michael Polenske and the inaugural vintage of the thusly named Blackbird Vineyards Merlot was introduced that same year.

A combination of the unmistakable quality of this new wine and the crack team assembled by Polenske to take charge of winemaking (winemaker Sarah Gott), and marketing and sales strategies (COO/CMO Paul Leary) makes the 2004 Blackbird Vineyards Merlot a real cult prospect.

Winemonkey and I tasted the 2004 Blackbird Merlot twice, once with Leary at the Napa Wine Co. in Oakville, California, and a second time three months later at the wines’ New York City unveiling at Soho House. This gave us good perspective on the wine as the first tasting was a just-bottled sample and the second a newly released wine. Although the first was a bit shy from bottle shock, we could sense the crushed berry fruit, lush layers and bright acidity in both bottles. The 2004 is a refined wine from start to finish — and the finish is endlessly persistent.

Blackbird Vineyards makes serious Merlot and with controlled quantities available to mailing list subscribers and a limited number of retailers selling the wine, it is surely on the fast track to cult status.

Wines Reviewed:

VintageWineryWine NameCountryRegionCurrent GradePeak GradePrice
2004 Blackbird Vineyards Merlot US California A A $80
2005 Blackbird Vineyards Merlot US California NR A N/A

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your comments and for your support! Please let us know when you are next in napa and please stop by the Vineyard.


    Michael Polenske