Everything about Blackbird Vineyards Napa Valley, California, Cabernet Sauvignon wine producer profile, wine tasting notes, wine and food pairing tips, best vintages, history of the property, information on their wine making techniques, terroir and soil. You can also read about the Grapes used for California wine and learn about the extensive History of Napa Valley, California Wines
Blackbird History, Overview
Founded by Michael Polenske, Blackbird Vineyards released its first wine with the 2003 vintage. Prior to this, the vineyards were a part of the large Trefethen vineyard. The inspiration for Blackbird is in part, due to the owners love of Pomerol, the seductive, Merlot based wines from Bordeaux. Before making wine, Michael Polenske had a successful career in the technology rich region of Silicone Valley, which is located not far from Napa Valley.
To get things started, Blackbird brought in Sarah Gott as their wine maker. Sarah Gott earned her experience with previous jobs at Joseph Phelps and Quintessa. Following Sarah Gott, Aaron Pott was brought in as the wine maker in 2006. The initial vineyard purchase by Michael Polenske, which became the start for Blackbird Vineyards, was planted to almost 100% Merlot. There was about 1% Cabernet Sauvignon in the vineyard as well.
Blackbird Vineyards, Terroir, Grapes, Wines, Winemaking
Blackbird Vineyards now owns 10 acres of vines in the Oak Knoll District, which is in the southern portion of the Napa Valley. The majority of their soils are gravel, with some sand and clay. Blackbird Vineyards also produces wine from purchased grapes planted in various appellations including: Atlas Peak, Carneros, Hudson Vineyards and Pritchard Hill.
When Blackbird Vineyards released Paramour, their first wine in 2003, they had no idea that they would soon be producing a plethora of wines. For general sale, Blackbird Vineyards produces:
Blackbird Vineyards Arise is made from a blend of 55% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged in 50% new, French oak barrels for 21 months before bottling.
Blackbird Vineyards Illustration is blended from 64% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are aged in an average of 75% new, French oak barrels for up to 21 months
Blackbird Vineyards Paramour is produced from a blend of 53% Cabernet Franc, 44% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are aged in an average of 75% new, French oak barrels for up to 21 months before bottling.
Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian is made from a blend of 54% Cabernet Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot. The wine is aged in 50% new, French oak barrels for 21 months before bottling.
Blackbird Vineyards also produces several small batch wines that are intended to be sold to their mailing list customers: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Denary Cuvee, which is made from a blend of 54% Cabernet Franc, 28% Merlot and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged in an average of 75% new, French oak barrels.
Serving and Decanting Blackbird wines with Wine, Food, Pairing Tips
Blackbird Vineyards wines are best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. Young vintages of their red wine can be decanted for 1-3 hours, depending on the character of the vintage. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment.
The red wine of Blackbird is best served with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, ribs, hamburgers, barbecue, roasted, braised, grilled dishes and stews. Blackbird is also good with Asian dishes, hearty fish courses like tuna, salmon, mushrooms and pasta.
In addition, Michael Polenske also formed a second winery, Ma(i)sonry, that produces wines from purchased grapes that are not related to their main brand, which focuses on making wines from Right Bank Bordeaux grape varieties.
Blackbird Vineyards Wine Tasting Notes
12 Vintages 39,408 Views Sort by Vintage-Rating
|2012||Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian (Oak Knoll)|
This Right Bank Bordeaux blend is round, plush, polished, medium/full bodied with a big kiss of oak, licorice and sweet black cherries in a forward style. 91 Points.
3,203 Views Tasted Jan 25, 2016
|2011||Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian (Oak Knoll)|
Soft, forward, open, ready to drink wine, with a strong herbal accent that will not please some tasters. 88 Points.
3,254 Views Tasted Nov 12, 2014
|2011||Blackbird Vineyards Arise (Oak Knoll)|
Blending From 61% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, this Right Bank Bordeaux blend is on the lighter side of the style range with a vanilla tinged black raspberry profile. Already open, drink this on the young side. 88 Points.
2,444 Views Tasted Aug 25, 2013
|2010||Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian (Oak Knoll)|
Smoky, coffee bean, brown sugar and blackberry notes create the aromatics. Polished, soft and packed with sweet, ripe black plums, this should be better with a few years of age. 92 Points.
4,595 Views Tasted Aug 25, 2013
|2010||Blackbird Vineyards Illustration (Oak Knoll)|
Soft, and polished, the tannins are ripe and silky. The wine delivers sweet, black cherries in its open, round finish. 91 Points.
3,860 Views Tasted Aug 25, 2013
|2010||Blackbird Vineyards Paramour (Oak Knoll)|
Jammy black and red fruits, earth and dark chocolate aromas create the perfume. On the palate, the wine is led by blackberries and cocoa, with a polished feel to the texture. Already forward and approachable. 91 Points.
2,332 Views Tasted Aug 25, 2013
|2009||Blackbird Vineyards Illustration (Oak Knoll)|
From a blend of 81% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, that would be at home in the Right Bank of Bordeaux, the wine offers scents of coffee, smoke, blackberry, blueberry and dark cherry, lush textures and a long, sweet, ripe, fruit filled finish. This is already drinking well. 92 Points.
1,977 Views Tasted Mar 2, 2012
|2009||Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian (Oak Knoll)|
Coffee bean, earthy jammy cherries, forest floor and spice box notes lead to a silky, soft, plush and polished expression of California Cabernet Sauvignon that ends with a sweet, fresh, forward red and black fruit filled finish. 91 Points.
3,730 Views Tasted Dec 25, 2012
Coffee, licorice, black, red and blue fruits with smoke aromas open to a soft, plush, forward, oaky, blackberry filled finish. The wine was made from a blend of 41% Cabernet Franc, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot and aged in 75% new oak for 21 months. 91 Points.
2,096 Views Tasted Mar 1, 2012
|2009||Blackbird Vineyards Paramour (Oak Knoll)|
Coffee bean, cassis and ripe black cherry notes open to a fresh, ripe, round, forward styled wine. 91 Points.
2,209 Views Tasted Dec 18, 2012
|2009||Blackbird Vineyards Arise (Oak Knoll)|
From a Bordeaux styled blend of 53% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is packed with licorice, black cherries, coffee and wet earth scents. Medium/full bodied, the wine ends with ripe, fresh, blackberries and plums. Give it a few years for the tannin to soften. 90 Points.
3,025 Views Tasted Mar 1, 2012
|2008||Blackbird Vineyards Illustration (Oak Knoll)|
From a blend of 75% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, Blackbird has fashioned a cassis, chocolate, licorice and herb filled with that ends with coffee, chocolate and blackberry sensations. 90 Pts
2,895 Views Tasted Mar 1, 2011
|2007||Blackbird Vineyards Illustration (Oak Knoll)|
70% merlot, 20% cabernet franc, 5% malbec and 5% cabernet sauvignon make up the blend for this Bordeaux blend look alike. Chocolate covered blackberries, espresso, fennel and dark cherry aromas lead into a plush style of wine finishing with a mouthful of sweet, chocolate, coffee and blackberry flavors. 91 Pts
3,788 Views Tasted Mar 1, 2011