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REVIEWS

Vintages: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003


2013 Vintages

2013 Arriviste

2013 Arriviste Napa Valley Rosé

  Wine Enthusiast

90 Points

Full Review Coming in July 2014.
Stay Tuned...

           

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2012 Vintages

2012 Arriviste

2012 Arriviste Napa Valley Rosé

  Purely Domestic Wine Report

90 Points

"Beautifully-made, carefree quaff. Lively strawberry, cherry and graphite. Quite dry, it is always something I look forward to."
— Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
November 2013

  Restaurant Wine

5/5 Stars - Exceptional

"Intensely fruity and lightly herbal in character, this is a dry, rich rosé with a smooth palate impression and a long. Full finish, tasting of raspberry, strawberry and herbs"
Restaurant Wine
June 2013

  Stephan Tanzer

89 Points

"Aromas of pomegranate, cherry, raspberry and spicy oak. Supple and pliant in the mouth, with a firm acid spine and a hint of minerality giving shape to the middle palate."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
June 2013

 

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2011 Vintages

2011 Arriviste

2011 Arriviste Napa Valley Rosé

  Tanzer

91 Points

"Offers a splendid combination of breadth and delicacy for California pink wine...This rich but very subtle rose should be particularly useful at the dinner table."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
May 2012

  SF Weekly

Wine of the Week

The Arriviste (is) the only California wine in the portfolio that hits our Wine of the Week $40 and below price target...The dinner Rosé...or a pairing for fresh oysters."
SF Weekly
May 2012

   
2011 Arise

2011 Arise

  Wine Enthusiast

91 Points

Displays the house style of accessible fruit, in the way of blackberries, cherries, currants and cocoa, wrapped in refined but firm tannins. Drink it now with Cabernet-friendly food, especially a great char-broiled steak.
Wine Enthusiast
September 2013

  Vinous Media

90 Points

"Wraps around the palate with juicy dark cherries, plums, mocha and sweet spices, all in a fairly soft, approachable style for the year. Soft floral notes wrap around the finish."
— Antonio Galloni's Vinous Media
November 2013

  Connoisseurs Guide

90 Points

"Complex blend of cherries, spices and cocoa with wisps of sweet spices and its supple, somewhat rounded yet decently balanced palatal impacts."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
November 2013

  Ken's Wine Guide

92 points (Very Good+)

"This wine is medium bodied, nicely balanced and very easy to drink. The flavor profile is a tasty black cherry with hints of boysenberry, gentle plum, and faint oak in the background. (This is a) very good wine."
Ken's Wine Guide
October 2013

2011 Illustration

2011 Illustration

  Tasting Panel

92 Points

Smooth and ripe with rich plum, spice and herbs; supple, lush and deep with balance, tangy fruit acidity and style; long and vibrant.
The Tasting Panel Magazine
Blue's Reviews Extra

December 2013

  Wine Enthusiast

93 Points

Rich, instantly likeable flavors of cherries, currants, cocoa, green olives and violets. The wine feels softly tannic in the mouth, and will be fabulous now with a great steak, but it also will develop over the next 10-12 years.
Wine Enthusiast
September 2013

  Vinous Media

91 Points

"2011 Illustration is a juicy and expressive red. Cloves, dark red cherries, plums, menthol and licorice all blossom in a textured, inviting wine that is all about depth and resonance. The soft contours of Merlot inform the generous finish."
— Antonio Galloni's Vinous Media
November 2013

  Connoisseurs Guide

93 Points

"Good deal of juicy, fully ripened, black cherry fruit at the fore of this one. Yet for all of its obvious richness, it has plenty of depth and a real sense of reserve that affords it fine potential for development."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
November 2013

Purely Domestic Wine Report

91 Points

"Has a distinct ripe and round nose of blackberry and herb. The palate is round and robust with plenty of well-integrated herb and black fruit."
— Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
November 2013

     
2011 Paramour

2011 Paramour

  Connoisseurs Guide

90 Points

"Commendable for having come from a difficult vintage. It smacks of ripe cherries... Agreeably-tame tannins provide just the right degree of structural grip."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
April 2014

  Tasting Panel

93 Points

Smooth and rich with plum, blackberry and chocolate; lush, juicy and showing bright, tangy acidity and lovely balance; deep and long.
The Tasting Panel Magazine
Blue's Reviews Extra

December 2013

  Wine Enthusiast

93 Points - Cellar Selection

Succulent and delicious as anything out there, soft and sensual, with intricate black cherry, cola, violet, cocoa and cedar flavors. Wonderful to drink now, it will age well for the next 12-15 years.
Wine Enthusiast
September 2013

  Vinous Media

92 Points

"Dark plums, espresso, grilled herbs, tar and licorice meld together in the 2011. Intense and brooding. The firm tannins need another year or two to soften, but the wine's balance is outstanding."
— Antonio Galloni's Vinous Media
November 2013

Purely Domestic Wine Report

93 Points

"Fine definition to the currant, berry java, herb and cherry aromas. The palate is beautifully focused... chewiness in the mid palate..."
— Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
November 2013

     
2011 Contrarian

2011 Contrarian

  Connoisseurs Guide

91 Points

"It is surprisingly accessible, refined and wonderfully well-polished even while being solid and sturdy..."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
April 2014

  Wine Enthusiast

92 Points

Sweet cherry, red licorice, violet, cocoa and new oak flavors make this wine drinkable now. Cab Franc taking the starring role, and Merlot also a strong component of the blend. The window of drinkability extends at least through 2019.
Wine Enthusiast
September 2013

  Vinous Media

92 Points

"The most vibrant and powerful of reds from Blackbird. Violets, cloves, menthol, tar and licorice burst from the glass in a firm Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine loaded with personality and class. Here, too, the wine's balance is impeccable."
— Antonio Galloni's Vinous Media
November 2013

  Purely Domestic Wine Report

94 Points

"A vibrant currant, berry and herbal-licorice nose. Beautifully polished palate entry, with firm, dark berries and espresso."
— Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
November 2013

Top

2010 Vintages

2010 Arriviste

2010 Arriviste Napa Valley Rosé

  Wine Spectator

Recommended

Rosés from Around the World
(100 rosés on the list with only 3 recommended from Napa Valley)
Wine Spectator
July 2011

  Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Recommended

Stephen Tanzer's Annual Report on Pink Wines
(The only rosé recommended from Napa Valley)
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
July 2011

  Ken's Wine Guide

89 Points (Very good)

"This truly Rose colored wine opens with a fragrant strawberry bouquet. On the palate, this wine is medium bodied, well balanced, and very smooth. The flavor profile of this wine is a mild mineral infused gentle strawberry with a touch of pomegranate and black cherry. The finish is very dry and rather refreshing."
Ken's Wine Guide
May 2011

  Gary Vaynerchuk

"Just had the best Rosé I have had from California... Maybe ever... Like find it... Wow!"
Gary Vaynerchuk via Twitter
February 2011

2010 Arise

2010 Arise

  The Wine Advocate

91 Points

"Delicious, round, opulent and decadently fruity and forward, this crowd-pleasing, head-turning 2010 possesses lots of character. It should drink well for a decade."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
October 2013

  Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

90+ Points

"Sexy aromas of black raspberry and flowers. Densely packed with kirsch and licorice flavors with herb notes. Finishes with terrific energy and sneaky length."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
May 2013

  Restaurant Wine

4 stars- Excellent

"Complex in flavor and full bodied, this is an excellent blend. It is medium rich, balanced, long, mildly tannic, and oaky on the finish. It tastes of cassis, toast, tobacco, herbs, and spicy oak."
Restaurant Wine
January 2013

  Wine Enthusiast

90 Points

"This is one of the richer, finer wines out of Napa meant for drinking now. With smooth tannins and a soft mouth-feel, it shows sweet-tasting cherry jam, cassis and toasty oak flavors."
Wine Enthusiast
February 2013

Ken's Wine Guide

91 Points

"On the palate, this wine is medium bodied, balanced, smooth, and has a very nice mouthfeel...this wine would pair well with short ribs or beef stew."
Ken's Wine Guide
November 2012

  Purely Domestic Wine Report

92 Points

"(The wine) delivers a very structured palate impression of earth and black cherry and nice grip to the tannins. It gets pretty exotic on the finish. Drink 2012-2018."
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
November 2012

  Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine

91 Points

"Blackbird's blended Merlot comes through again, and like its predecessors, it offers a potent combination of depth, richness and spot-on claret focus..."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
March 2013

 
2010 Illustration

2010 Illustration

  The Wine Advocate

91 Points

"Fleshy and pure as well as loaded with fruit and character, this is another beautifully balanced, seamless effort that should drink beautifully for 10-15 years - if you can resist it for that long."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
October 2013

  Wine Spectator

91 Points

"Tightly focused and well-built, with aromas of cherry, blueberry and black olive, offering firm flavors of loamy mineral, cedar and currant that finish with firm tannins."
Wine Spectator
November 2013

  Restaurant Wine

5/5 Stars - Exceptional

"Fleshy and complex, this is a luscious, full-bodied blend with excellent jam, mint and spicy oak."
Restaurant Wine
June 2013

  Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

93 Points

"Lush on entry, then a wave of black cherry, raspberry and truffle washes over the palate and echoes on the long finish. Very seductive wine. Pomerol lookalike."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
May 2013

Wine Enthusiast

94 Points - Cellar Selection

"There's something enormously satisfying about this Merlot-based blend. It hits the Napa-Bordeaux sweet spot, with concentrated blackberry and cherry fruit, jacketed in sweet, smoky oak. Great to experience now, and should be one for the long haul"
Wine Enthusiast
August 2013

  Purely Domestic Wine Report

93 Points

"A beautiful nose of blackberry and currant. Once again, the palate shows solid structure with a precise impression of black currant, licorice and fine tannins."
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
November 2012

   
2010 Paramour

2010 Paramour

  The Wine Advocate

90+ Points

"Slightly more restrained aromatically, displaying blueberry, blackberry and cassis fruit, a full-bodied, fleshy, voluptuous character, and plenty of richness."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
October 2013

  Wine Spectator

92 Points

"Subtle black cherry, black licorice and floral scents extend onto the palate. This is an elegant, graceful, deftly balanced young wine that retains focus and persistence. Drink now through 2024."
Wine Spectator
June 2013

  Restaurant Wine

5/5 Stars - Exceptional

"Superb Cabernet Franc blend! Beautifully balanced, medium rich, complex in character and very long on the palate."
Restaurant Wine
June 2013

  Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

92+ Points

"Brooding aromas of black fruits, dark chocolate, with a hint of violet...This very rich wine opened beautifully in the glass...The broad, serious tannins saturate the entire palate."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
May 2013

Wine Enthusiast

94 Points - Cellar Selection

"The soft voluptuousness of this Cabernet Franc-based Bordeaux blend is its most evident feature. [Tannins are] as finely woven as a silk tapestry, while the flavors are dazzling, suggesting black cherries, red currants and hints of dark chocolate and anise. Kudos to winemaker Aaron Pott for this remarkable blend from all around the valley."
Wine Enthusiast
August 2013

  Connoisseurs Guide

91 Points

"More than just complex, this dramatic wine runs from the darker influences of concentrated black cherries and toasty tobacco leaf..."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
May 2013

  Purely Domestic Wine Report

93 Points

"Beguilingly supple, with open, briary black fruit elements in the nose. The palate delivers an intense black currant, tannin and berry profile with a nice bit of licorice on the finish."
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
November 2012

 
2010 Contrarian

2010 Contrarian

  The Wine Advocate

93 Points

"A beauty of purity, symmetry, harmony and pure Napa fruit. Abundant notes of blue and black fruits, sweet tannin, and enough acidity for delineation and freshness result in a stunningly impressive wine to drink over the next 10-12 years."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
October 2013

  Wine Spectator

90 Points

"A graceful, elegant mix of black cherry, plum, mineral and loamy earth, ending with a subtle but persistent finish and lingering flavors. Drink now through 2022."
Wine Spectator
June 2013

  Restaurant Wine

4+/5 Stars - Excellent

"A fine blend: supple in texture, ripely flavored, and well balanced; a wine with rich, complex character, and a long, lightly tannic finish"
Restaurant Wine
June 2013

  Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

93+ Points

"Notes of black cherry and cassis. A youthfully medicinal quality harmonious acidity. Intensely flavored and very long, finishing with serious fine-grained tannins and outstanding grip."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
May 2013

Wine Enthusiast

94 Points - Cellar Selection

"So soft and dense in richness, this is easy to enjoy now. But you really want to restrain that impulse and give it some time in the cellar. Blended from roughly equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, it's dry and tannic, but with a molten core of blackberries, cherries, blueberries, anise and sweet new oak. Very fine, very elaborate and complex. This wine could still be unfolding in 2020."
Wine Enthusiast
August 2013

  Connoisseurs Guide

92 Points - "Best of 2013"

"Deep, dense and impressively concentrated, this generously filled wine shows layer upon layer of rich, well-ripened dark fruit. [It] will age famously for ten years or more."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
April 2013

  Purely Domestic Wine Report

93 Points

"Shows off ripe and smooth black fruit in the nose with an impression of focused tannins. The texture and tannins are well-formed and should give this wine a long life."
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
November 2012

 

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2009 Vintages

2009 Arise

2009 Arise

  Restaurant Wine

4 stars

"Round and full-bodied, this is a stylish, medium-rich blend that is well balanced. Excellent."
Restaurant Wine
June 2012

  Tanzer

90 Points

"Bright, chewy and dry on the palate...This wine shows a lovely restrained sweetness and finishes with good shape and length."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
May 2012

    Tasting Panel

91 Points

"Smooth, sweet toasted oak and lovely, lush texture; generous and balanced with depth and good length."
The Tasting Panel Magazine - Blue's Reviews Extra
January 2012

Wine Enthusiast

94 Points

"Editors' Choice - A glorious wine. Based on Merlot, with nearly equal parts of the two Cabernets, it's softly smooth and delicious right now. Totally bone dry, yet rich and sweet in cherries, berries, chocolate and cedar, it satisfies on every level..."
Wine Enthusiast
Best of Year Buying Guide, 2011

  Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine

93 Points

"Very much reminiscent of fine claret in structure but charged with lots of well-ripened Napa Valley fruit...it will age without risk for as long as a decade or more."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
November 2011

  Ken's Wine Guide

Very Good+ - 91 Points

"This opaque and very dark ruby colored blend opens with a fragrant blackberry bouquet with a hint of black raspberry. On the palate, this wine is full bodied, balanced, dense and juicy. It does develop nicely with some aeration. The flavor profile is plum and black currant blend with notes of blueberry and oak..."
Ken's Wine Guide
November 2011

2009 Illustration

2009 Illustration

  Restaurant Wine

4 stars

"Full bodied and intensely flavored, this is a supple, concentrated wine...Can be aged. Excellent."
Restaurant Wine
June 2012

  Wine Enthusiast

92 Points

"This is a big, rich, vibrant wine, fruity enough to drink now...deliciously forward in cherry, currant, herb and new oak flavors. The wine shows a brisk acidity that makes it elegant and refined."
Wine Enthusiast
June 2012

  Tanzer

93 Points

"Sexy, vibrant aromas of black cherry, dark raspberry, cassis, chocolate and licorice...Blackbird, whose wines are made by the talented Aaron Pott, describes itself as 'an artisanal producer of Pomerol-inspired wines' and this beauty could be exhibit A."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
May 2012

  Ken's Wine Guide

94 Points (Excellent)

"This opaque and pitch black colored finesse wine will certainly be a crowd pleaser. This is a very food friendly wine that would pair well with steak."
Ken's Wine Guide
May 2012

Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

92 Points

"Blueberry and black currant in the nose, it shows a somewhat youthfully angular palate with polished black fruits in the core."
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
February 2012

  Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine

92 Points

"Delivers a wealth of very deep, perfectly focused black cherry fruit with lovely oak as a backup...a solid, extremely well-balanced, impressively layered and eminently age-worthy wine..."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
November 2011

   
2009 Paramour

2009 Paramour

  Restaurant Wine

5 stars

"Paramour is luscious and complex; an exceptional wine, with intense fruitiness, layers of oak complexity, and a firm, long finish. Delicious."
Restaurant Wine
June, 2012

  Wine Enthusiast

92 Points

"...Very polished and complex...Marked by black cherry, red currant and cedar flavors, and finishes totally dry."
Wine Enthusiast
June 2012

  Tanzer

92+ Points

"Smooth and fine-grained but youthfully backward...with flavors of black cherry, coffee, and spices. Perhaps the longest of the set of 2009s...This very well balanced wine blossomed beautifully in the glass..."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
May 2012

  Ken's Wine Guide

95 Points (Excellent)

"I just loved this wine! It will not be around too long. Everyone will want a second glass."
Ken's Wine Guide
April 2012

Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

92 Points

"Elderberry, currant and lavender in the nose with ripe, mouth-coating chocolate, black fruits and solid tannins, it shows beautiful structure."
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
February 2012

   
2009 Contrarian

2009 Contrarian

  Restaurant Wine

4+ stars

"Rich and complex in style; a firm, well balanced wine with evident oak character and blackberry-cassis fruitiness."
Restaurant Wine
June 2012

  Wine Enthusiast

93 Points

"Just beautiful to drink now...the wine's flavors are simply delicious, offering waves of cherries, blueberries, plums and currants. Plenty of new oak adds toasty vanilla. (Pair) this wine with rich foods, such as lamb."
Wine Enthusiast
June 2012

  Tanzer

92+ Points

"Crushed blackberry, licorice and violet on the nose and palate. This very rich, long wine comes across as much more vibrant...Impressive potential here."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
May 2012

  Ken's Wine Guide

93 Points (Very good +)

"The flavor profile is a tasty black currant and boysenberry blend with notes of oak and anise. I also detected hints of blueberry and espresso. The finish is dry and its moderate fine tannins are sticky and linger for quite some time."
Ken's Wine Guide
March 26 2012

Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

93 Points

"Shows a dark, brooding nose of black fruits, chocolate and coffee leading to a palate of intensely extracted black fruit lavished in fine-grained tannins."
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
February 2012

     

Top

2008 Vintages

2008 Arriviste

2008 Arriviste

Ken's Wine Guide

Very Good - 89 Points

"This truly Rose colored wine opens with a fragrant strawberry bouquet. On the palate, this wine is medium bodied, well balanced, and very smooth. The flavor profile of this wine is a mild mineral infused gentle strawberry with a touch of pomegranate and black cherry. The finish is very dry and rather refreshing."
Ken's Wine Guide
May 2011

     
2008 Arise

2008 Arise

  Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

92 Points

"Supple, intense and energetic, with lovely rose petal lift and restrained sweetness to its seamless red fruit flavors. This essentially gentle, Right-Bank-style wine finishes with suave tannins and noteworthy aromatic persistence. A sentimental favorite in my recent tastings."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
May/June 2011

  winereviewonline.com

93 Points

"This beautiful wine exudes dark-fruited aromas, with a leafy note no doubt from the Cab Franc, in a rich layered, supple wine that be drunk now with great satisfaction. Or set it aside for additional aging that will only enhance an already delicious brew."
winereviewonline.com
May 2011

  Ken's Wine Guide

Very Good - 93 Points

"This dark ruby colored red blend from Blackbird is quite the crowd pleaser. It opens with a plum like bouquet with hints of blackberry..."
Ken's Wine Guide
April 2011

  The Wine Advocate

91 Points

"The 2008 Arise reveals a sweeter, chocolate/cocoa scent intermixed with abundant notes of black currants, cherries and subtle herbs. With silky tannins and a fleshy, sexy, opulent personality, the wine lingers in the mouth."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
Issue #192, December 2010

Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine

92 Points

"The three varietals are beautifully fit in this deep and very complex presentation. Long on ripe cherries, cassis, sweet oak and briary spice, the wine is at once both big and quite well-proportioned..."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
November 2010

  The Wine Cult

95 Points

"The medium to full bodied palate shows layers of dark fruit, with elegant balance, velvety texture, and a nice generous finish."
The Wine Cult
September 2010

   
2008 Illustration

2008 Illustration

  Jamessuckling.com

90 Points

"I like the wet earth and fruit character on the nose and palate of this wine. It's full and supple with soft tannins and a long fresh finish..."
— Jamessuckling.com, 2008 California Cabernet Report
June 2011

  Wine Enthusiast

93 Points

Wine Enthusiast
"Lush, smooth and complex, this Merlot-based blend seems capable of a little developement in the cellar. It's pretty tannic, although the cherry fruit is sweet and bright..."

  Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

93 Points

"A beautiful wine in the mouth, precise and pure entry with sculpted, mouth-coating flavors of blackberry, dark cherry and a bit of bittersweet java..."
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
October 2011

  The Wine Advocate

90 Points

"Possesses a dark ruby/purple color as well as big, sweet aromas of mocha, coffee bean, black cherries and spice box..."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
December 2010

2008 Paramour

2008 Paramour

  Jamessuckling.com

92 Points

"Very ripe fruit on the nose, mostly cherries. Some mocha and spice undertones..."
— Jamessuckling.com, 2008 California Cabernet Report
June 2011

  Wine Enthusiast

91 Points

"Cellar Selection - Exuberantly rich in cherries and blackberries, with a huge, sweet and smoky coating of oak. The tannis are thick and dusty and flashy..."
Wine Enthusiast
Best of Year Buying Guide, 2011

  Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

92 Points

"Shows a seamless palate entry with well-defined black currant, pure red and blue plum..."
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
October 2011

  The Wine Advocate

91 Points

"The wine is impressively rich and sexy..."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
December 2010

2008 Contrarian

2008 Contrarian

  Jamessuckling.com

91 Points

"This is a little jammy on the nose with lots of currants. Spicy at the front of the palate with ripe fruit and chocolate undertones..."
— Jamessuckling.com, 2008 California Cabernet Report
June 2011

  Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

90 Points

"The nose is a soft chiffon of red cherry, blackberry that come together with excellent focus..."
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
October 2011

 

Top

2007 Vintages

2007 Arise

2007 Arise

 

90 Points

"Sweet and creamy but with a firm spine of acidity framing the redcurrant flavor and giving the middle palate a juicy character. Finishes with attractive building sweetness..."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Issue 150, May/June 2010

  Wine Enthusiast

93 Points

"This Bordeaux blend has terrific a structure, with a molten core of ripe, sweetly complex blackberries and black currents."
Wine Enthusiast
February 2010

 

92 Points

"The dense ruby/purple-tinged 2007 Arise (75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) exhibits a mossy, forest floor, Burgundian-like component, medium to full body, outstanding balance, purity, and texture..."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
December 2009

  Wine Spectator

91 Points

"Concentrated black currant and espresso aromas open to sleek yet complex blackberry, cedar and sage flavors that slowly build power and tannins on the finish."
Wine Spectator
December 2009 Insider Edition

Ken's Wine Guide

90 Points

"On the palate, this wine is medium bodied, balanced, and fruit forward. The flavor profile is a blend of juicy blackberry and dusty black cherry with notes of integrated old oak."
Ken's Wine Guide
October 2009

  Vinography

9/10 Points

"Dark garnet in the glass, this wine has a nose of dark black cherry, tobacco and wet earth aromas. In the mouth it is velvety and nicely balanced."
Vinography: A Wine Blog
October 2009

   
2007 Illustration

2007 Illustration

  Jamessuckling.com

91 Points

— Jamessuckling.com, 2007 California Cabernet Report
February 2011

  Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine

94 Points

"A deeper, more-layered and altogether richer look at Merlot than most, this compelling wine is long on sweet oak and rife with classic varietal black cherry fruit."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
November 2010

  Wine Enthusiast

97 Points

"A spectacular wine that gets better and better with every sip. It's dramatic from the get-go, with rich, fine tannins framing extraordinarily good flavors of blackberries, black currents, anise, dark chocolate and cedar."
Wine Enthusiast
February 2010

  The Wine Advocate

92 Points

"The 2007s ratchet up things. Composed of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2007 Illustration reveals sweeter fruit, more opulence and flamboyance, and plenty of spice, wood smoke, black currant, plum, and licorice notes."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
December 2009

Vinfolio

91 Points

"On the palate, it has a combination of tannins and grip which is elegantly balanced by dark berry fruit and cedar. This is certainly a wine that will be enjoyable for the next 15-20 years."
Vinfolio
November 2009

  Vinography

Between 9 and 9.5/10 Points

"Medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a nose of tobacco, black cherry, and wet wood, with an aspect over time that is almost dusty.. Cost: $90. Where to buy?"
Vinography: A Wine Blog
October 2009

  Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

92 Points

"Aromas: Subtle herb hints with cherry, graphite and salt
Palate: Violet, herb, chocolate and espresso"
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
October 2009

 
2007 Paramour

2007 Paramour

  Jamessuckling.com

93 Points

— Jamessuckling.com, 2007 California Cabernet Report
February 2011

  Wine & Spirits

91 Points

"Aaron Pott bases this blend on merlot grown at the Blackbird Vineyard (50 percent); the balance is cabernet franc (45) from the Crocker & Starr Vineyard in St. Helena and cabernet sauvignon."
Wine & Spirits
June 2010

  Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

91 Points

"Nose offers cherry and plum fruit aromas complicated by minerals and licorice and lifted by a floral nuance that shows evidence of the cab franc."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Issue 150, May/June 2010

  Wine Enthusiast

95 Points

"It's softly rich and polished in tannins, with accessible blackberry, cassis and oak flavors.."
Wine Enthusiast
February 2010

Wine Advocate

93+ Points

"A sensational effort, the 2007 Paramour reveals the most saturated purple color of any of these wines. A blend of 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, it possesses abundant notes of graphite, ink, spicy oak, creme de cassis, plums, and licorice."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
December 2009

  Vinfolio

93 Points

"Some of the best Merlot-based wines out of the Napa Valley for this fantastic vintage."

"There are explosive aromas of dark fruit on the nose including blueberry, loganberry, and cassis, along with undertones of dark chocolate and cedar."
Vinfolio
November 2009

  Ken's Wine Guide

93 Points

"This dark ruby red blend is fascinating. It opens with an attractive blueberry bouquet. On the palate, this wine is medium to full bodied very well balanced, super silky, and elegant."
Ken's Wine Guide
October 2009

  Vinography

Between 9 and 9.5/10 Points

"Medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a rich nose of cherry, black tea and light floral aromas. In the mouth it is smooth with lightly velvety tannins and joyous rich cherry and plum" fruit.
Vinography: A Wine Blog
October 2009

Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

90 Points

"Aromas: Lavender, cherry
Palate: firm, floral, cherry, graphite and toast"
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
October 2009

     
2007 Contrarian

2007 Contrarian

  Jamessuckling.com

93 Points

— Jamessuckling.com, 2007 California Cabernet Report
February 2011

 

91 Points

"Saturated, bright red-ruby. Wild aromas of plum, dark cherry, leather and meat; distinctly Old World in character..."
— Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Issue 150, May/June 2010

  Wine Enthusiast

93 Points

"Shows a molten core of blackberries, crème de cassis, cocoa and cider, with a mineral undertow."
Wine Enthusiast
February 2010

 

94 Points

"Another noteworthy offering is the 2007 Contrarian, a blend of 46% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. This dense 2007 offers loads of licorice, black currant liqueur, camphor, charcoal, plum sauce, and spicy yet subtle oak in a complete, voluminous, full-bodied style."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
December 2009

Ken's Wine Guide

90 Points

"This dark ruby colored wine opens with a mild blackberry and black raspberry bouquet. On the palate, this wine is full bodied, balanced, and very smooth."
Ken's Wine Guide
November 2009

  Vinfolio

90 pts

"Tannins and structure abound, and while concentrated and powerful on the palate, this wine also contains bright and rich berry fruit..."
Vinfolio
November 2009

  Vinography

9.5/10 Points

"Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cocoa powder, cherry, and that light hint of green vegetable that suggests the Cabernet that plays a more dominant role in this wine."
Vinography: A Wine Blog
October 2009

  Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

91 Points

"Aromas: Earthy loam, clove, salt and leather
Palate: rich, smooth, evolved profile showing hints of lavender"
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
October 2009

Top

2006 Vintages

2006 Arise

2006 Arise

  The Wine Advocate

91 Points

"The 2006 Arise (100% Merlot) possesses the most chocolate, cocoa, and charcoal notes along with lots of berry fruit, silky tannins, a lovely, medium to full-bodied, lush texture, and irresistible charm and appeal. Enjoy it over the next decade."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
December 2009

  Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine

93 Points

"Perfectly ripe cherries and shows layers of rich oak, sweet loam and hints of cola throughout its considerable length. Its integral spine of fine-grained tannins guarantee that it will grow over four to six years..."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
September 2009

  Wine Spectator

91 Points

"Dense and racy, with blackberry and spicy espresso aromas that lead to complex, layered currant, mocha and toasty sage flavors. Tannins firm up the finish. Merlot. Drink now through 2013."
Wine Spectator Online
July 2009

 
2006 Illustration

2006 Illustration

  The Wine Advocate

91 Points

"The 2006 Illustration, a blend of 86% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, offers sweet, smoky, cola, black currant, coffee, new saddle leather, cocoa, spice box, and tobacco characteristics as well as a lush, round, heady mouthfeel."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
December 2009

  Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

93 Points

"Aromas: Black cherry, herb, graphite and quince
Palate: Firm tannic entry with huge fruit; blackberry, polished cherry, chocolate and herb"
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
October 2009

  Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine

90 Points

"Plenty of sweet black-cherry fruit and shows a nice flash of Merlot roundness..."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
September 2009

  Vinfolio

94 Points

"This luxurious red is a treat now but definitely something to enjoy for at least the next 10-15 years."
Vinfolio
March 2009

4/5 stars

"Supple and full in style, with evident richness, fine balance, and a very long finish..."
Restaurant Wine
Issue #129

 

9.5/10 Points

"In the mouth it is gorgeously smooth with bright cherry cola, chocolate, and juicy bing cherry flavors that dance on a lively bed of acidity. Velvety tannins sneak around the edges with a hint of sweetness and then pirouette slowly in the back of the throat for minutes. Fantastic."
Vinography, Alder Yarrrow Review
October 2008

   
2006 Paramour

2006 Paramour

  Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

93 Points

"Aromas: Forward cherry and nougat with hints of berry and graphite
Palate: Polished entry with licorice, cherry and toasted chocolate - full, polished black fruit"
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
October 2009

  Wine Spectator

90 Points

"Dense and complex, with a touch of velvet to smooth it out. Aromas of black currant and espresso lead to layered cherry, blueberry and cedar flavors."
Wine Spectator Online
August 2009

  Vinfolio

94 Points

"The 20 months in French oak, 83% of which are new, contribute in part to the beautiful structure and silky tannins that fill the mouth and that lingering hint of pepper in the finish leaves one always wanting a little bit more."
Vinfolio
March 2009

 

5/5 stars

"Exceptional, fleshy, full, and long; a generously flavored wine..."
Restaurant Wine
Issue #129

2006 Contrarian

2006 Contrarian

  The Wine Advocate

92 Points

"The brilliant 2006 Contrarian (38% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon) reveals plum, licorice, and black currant fruit intertwined with a mocha, coffee, berry character that recalls a fine Right Bank wine from Bordeaux."
— Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
December 2009

  Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

92 Points

"Aromas: Rich polished cherry and camphor
Palate: very pretty and full bodied, polished with excellent structure"


Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
October 2009

   
2006 Illustration

2006 Proprietary Red

  Wine Spectator

90 Points

"Shows lovely structure and finesse, offering currant and green olive aromas and appealing plum, sage and toasty vanilla notes that linger on the long finish. Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2014."
Wine Spectator Online
November 2008

     

Top

2005 Vintages

2005 Paramour

2005 Paramour

  Vintrust

98 Points

Aroma: Ruby Fruit, Cocoa, Black Plum - 15/15
Flavor: Black Coffee, Violet, Black Raspberry - 15/15
Structure: Integrated Tannins, Cleansing Acidity - 15/15
Length: Long Finish of Black Fruit and Mocha - 14/15
Balance: Bordeaux-like Structure, Subtleness - 38/40
Optimum Drinking - 2007-2020

"Paramour is the latest release from Blackbird Vineyards. The gravel and clay vineyard was purchased by proprietor Michael Polenske in 2003...Winemaker Sarah Gott is formerly of Joseph Phelps Vineyards."
Vintrust
November 2007

 
2006 Illustration

2005 Proprietary Red

  Wine Spectator

90 Points

"Aromas of plum and roasted sage lead to intense, youthful black cherry, cracked pepper and licorice flavors, finishing with rich, loamy tannins. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon."
— Wine Spectator
March 2008

  The Wine Advocate

Robert Parker Rating: 91 Points

"The 2005 Proprietary Red Wine is a blend of 96% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, all from the Oak Knoll sector of Napa. With terrific fruit, medium to full body, supple tannin, and well-integrated acidity and alcohol, it should be drunk over the next 8-10 years."
— The Wine Advocate
December 2007

  Vinfolio

Vinfolio Rating: 94 Points

"The wine shows a nose of vibrant cassis, orange skins, dark cherry, blueberry, lavender, chocolate, licorice and slate aromas. The palate breaks in with hints of meaty olive shading seductive kirsch and black plum flavors. Bold and smooth on the finish. Continues to evolve over 80 hours."
Vinfolio
September 2007

 

Top

2004 Vintages

2006 Illustration

2004 Proprietary Red

  Doug Wilder The Purely Domestic Wine Blog

92 Points

"Aromas: evolved nose, showing that it is entering maturity
Palate: polished delicate leather hints, cherry and blueberry"
Doug Wilder, purely domestic wine report
October 2009

 

Four Stars + (out of Five)

"Fleshy and full bodied, this is a fine Merlot, tasting of plum, black cherry, blueberry, and toast, with a smooth, long, lightly tannic finish. Pomerol-like, in the best sense. Unfined, unfiltered. 5% CS. 1,100 cases."
Restaurant Wine, By Ronn Weigand

  Vintrust

97 Points

Aroma: Dark Black Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Mocha - 14/15
Flavor: Brownies, Cherry Liqueur, Dark Currants - 15/15
Structure: Powerful, Extracted, Medium Tannins - 15/15
Length: Long Dark Fruit, Concentration, Extracted - 14/15
Balance: Impeccable balance of alcohol and fruit - 39/40
Optimum Drinking - 2007-2020

"The wine is a powerful, rich, massive and extracted version of plebian Merlot styles and it is truly destined to become a true cult classic."
— Vintrust
September 2007

winereviewonline.com

93 Points

Born to Fly...
"The vineyard called Blackbird Vineyards is a small, ten-acre property in the Oak Knoll District of southern Napa Valley that was planted to Merlot in 1997. Until 2003, grapes from this vineyard went into the wines of elite Napa Valley producers including Selene, where Mia Klein made an acclaimed vineyard-designated Merlot from this property. The property changed hands in 2003, and now respected winemaker Sarah Gott is custodian of the fruit.

The new owner of Blackbird Vineyards is Michael Polenske, who gave up an illustrious career in finance (for example, he was at one time President and Chief Executive Officer of Chase Manhattan Bank & Trust Co., N.A., heading up the private banking business in the Western U.S.) to pursue his dream of making wine. The winery brands itself an 'artisanal producer of Pomerol-inspired wines.

The 2004 Blackbird Vineyards wine is 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon but it is labeled as a proprietary wine rather than as a varietal Merlot. Although I consider the word 'elegant' to be over-used to the point of being almost meaningless, I must admit that this is a supremely elegant Merlot wine.

The 2004 Blackbird Vineyards wine has enough fruity character to be impressive if you drink it now, but its firm structure and its concentration suggest that it will evolve beautifully for many years, most likely becoming rounder as its tannins integrate completely. For collectors, it is a wine worth collecting."
— By Mary Ewing-Mulligan
April 2007

Top

2003 Vintages

2006 Illustration

2003 Merlot

 

"$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."
— Acme Fine Wines
October 2005

 

Sommscore: 95

AROMA dark cherry, slate, mineral, licorice 14
FLAVOR fleshy red cherry, fennel spice, earth 14
STRUCTURE medium-bodied, chewy tannins, bright acid 14
LENGTH persistent, hedonistic length 15
BALANCE well endowed with acids, tannins, fruit 38
Drinkability: 2010 - 2025

"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."
— Vintrust
Fall 2005

Vinfolio

98 Points

"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..."
— The Wilder Side of California
Doug Wilder, Issue 20
St. Helena, CA - October 2005

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