"$70 Every wine tells a story. Michael Polenske's Blackbird Vineyard tells a story you've probably heard before. The grapes grown on the property have been sold to Behrens & Hitchcock, Lail, Shafer, Pride and Robert Foley Vineyards in the past, as well as to Mia Klein's private label, Selene, with a Blackbird Vineyard designated label. Sarah Gott shines as Polenske's winemaker of choice. She left Joseph Phelps and Quintessa to make a splash in a few smaller ponds. (She also makes the following wine). It is with wines like this that we never question why we are in this business."
AROMA dark cherry, slate, mineral, licorice 14
"Heady aromas of dark cherry, a slate/lead minerality and a hint of anise introduce this brooding monster. Medium-bodied, the palate exhibits a great texture of medium tannins, with notes of red licorice, fennel and red cherry. Definitely not a cocktail wine, this Merlot blossomed with food, revealing its complexity and richness. While the wine opened up in the glass, five to ten years in the cellar will reward you with an exemplary drink."
"There's rare, and then there's really rare... The stunning debut of Blackbird Vineyards"
"Beginning in 1999, Mia Klein, owner and winemaker of Selene Winery introduced a vineyard designate Merlot from Blackbird Vineyards, south of Yountville. This bottling quickly gained wide acclaim among the trade and I noted the 1999 vintage (95 points) as my recommendation over the much heralded 2001 Paloma Merlot (Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year in 2003). I very quietly sold dozens of cases of Selene's Blackbird to my clients who wanted to know what I was so excited about. It wasn't long until the mere mention of Blackbird stopped people in their tracks. It was the best Merlot nobody had ever heard of.
In 2003, the vineyard changed hands. While most of the fruit that year went to Shafer, Behrens & Hitchcock, Viader, and Lail, new owner Michael Polenske and winemaker Sarah Gott carved out a miniscule amount of fruit to begin his legacy. This wine not only follows in the footsteps of the string of the superb Blackbird Vineyards Merlot made by Klein, it sets a new standard unsurprisingly from the same source. An important note here is that as great as the Selene Blackbird was, it only contained 55% of Blackbird fruit. The 2003 is sourced 100% from the vineyard.
Michael and I tasted his 2003 Blackbird last Friday at my office in St. Helena, and I was left with an extremely solid impression of 94 + points. When finished with our meeting, I put the cork back in the bottle and left it on my desk to revisit Monday. The evolution left me speechless..."