Blackbird operates out of Napa Valley’s Yountville area, where it makes Merlot-heavy wines that are inspired by those of Pomerol, Bordeaux. We tasted through six new releases from the winery’s top-notch portfolio. Samples were via Tastingroom.com, from 50ml bottles.
2009 Blackbird Arriviste Napa Valley Rose – A very crisp and easy rose of Merlot (58%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), and Cabernet Franc (12%). Sounds burly, but it’s not — it’s crisp and full of berry notes, with not a hint of cloying perfume to be found. An excellent pre-dinner companion. A / $24
2008 Blackbird Arise Napa Valley – A blend of Merlot (75%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%), and Cabernet Franc (20%) — but this one’s red. Huge body here, with jammy plum, smoky oak, and licorice notes. A little overwhelming, to be honest, but with enough complexity to merit a second look. B+ / $50
2007 Blackbird Paramour Napa Valley – Paramour dramatically updates the Cab Franc quotient with this blend of Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%), and Cabernet Franc (45%), giving this wine a much lighter body than Arise. Pleasant, but the price is a dealbreaker. A-/ $90
2007 Blackbird Contrarian Napa Valley – Mostly Cab Franc (46%), with Merlot (34%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) bringing up the back. A lush and surprisingly well-balanced red, with herbal and fruit notes playing well together. Has a lot in common with Paramour. A- / $90
2007 Blackbird Illustration Napa Valley – Mostly Merlot (70%), with Cabernet Franc (20%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%), and a touch of Malbec (5%) to round it out. I like this blend a lot, smoothed out but there’s something irregular in the finish. A- / $90
2006 Blackbird Illustration Napa Valley – 2006’s Illustration has a significantly different composition: Merlot (86%), Cabernet Franc (11%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (3%), making this the most Merlot-heavy wine in the bunch. Slightly smoky, with a very tart core that hints at chocolate. A bit minty. Less of a fan than the ’07 blend. B+ / $90