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.