Blackbird Vineyards Napa Valley California
Blackbird Vineyards Napa Valley – In 2003 Michael Polenske bought the 10 acre (4 ha) Blackbird Vineyard from Mia Klein of SELENE Winery and immediately set about installing Aaron Pott (ex Quintessa, but cut his teeth at Châteaux TROPLONG-MONDOT and Latour Figeac in St. Émilion for five years) as winemaker. Whilst the majority of the vineyard’s fruit was already contracted to other top wineries in the Napa Valley (SHAFER and VIADER among them), a small amount was held back for Pott to produce a 100% Merlot that continued the fine reputation that the Blackbird label had already achieved under Mia Klein.
Five wines are currently produced in minute quantities. The entry level rosé, aptly named ‘Arriviste’, is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and is akin to an Anjou rosé but with less obvious sugar. ‘Arise’ is mainly Merlot, with both Cabernets and has a neatness about it with a good deal of charm. ‘Illustration’ is their main wine, a blend of more than 75% Merlot with the balance Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon producing a rich wine with soft tannins and the feel of polished leather. ‘Paramour’ is spicy and concentrated, big structured although the alcohol is less than in ‘Illustration’.
Made with just under 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest divided between Merlot and Cabernet Franc, it reminds one of Saint Émilion as opposed to the Pomerol style of the former. Finally ‘Contrarian’ which is a blend of the three main grape varietals has big fruit on the nose – close knit, with stylish nuances of dark bitter chocolate on the palate. All the reds spend just over 20 months in French oak with ‘Arise’ having the least amount of new oak (about half ) as opposed to the others with around 75% new. This is possibly why it impressed the most. The wines don’t quite have the persistence of the very best. (NB)
To find out more about Benessere Vineyards and their wines, and to see how we reviewed and rated their wines you can check out the Wine Guide Napa and Caneros..
Or indeed you can check out the new extensively updated 9th edition Wine Behind the Label Wine Guide that is 2250 pages, it reviews around 4000 vineyards and over 30,000 wines. (DM)