"The intersection where great wines meet reasonable prices"



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Love and Meritage: Presents Blackstone 2007 Sonoma Reserve Rubric

Does anyone remember that song "Love and marriage" sung by Frank Sinatra, which introduced America to the concept of dysfunction in the form a of a sitcom in the late eighties called  Married... with Children.? While this wine has nothing to do with that show, it does have something in common with that theme kind of, because what is true in marriage is true in wine as well. The marriage of or the bringing together two different varietals to form a blend that in many cases rival the mono varietal based wines. See even wine is okay by itself as a single entity, but when correctly brought together with other varietals to form a single but multi-layered thing of beauty, let the quaffing begin.

The song goes, "Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage," but in this case it's love and Meritage, that could make for the operative phrase in your life, Married with Children. What do I mean my that, well the biological imperative could be absolutely enabled by a good Meritage type wine and this easy drinking wine could put you in the right frame of mind rather easily if you get my drift. "wink~wink"

According to good old Wikipedia: Um what the bleep is a rubric anyways? Survey says, "A rubric is a word or section of text which is traditionally written or printed in red ink to highlight it. The word derives from the Latin: rubrica, meaning red ochre or red chalk." Little did I know that the rubric method is one I've been using on my blog since I started writing over two years ago.

The Winery: Blackstone Winery has had some ubiquitous selections on store shelves for many years now. Their everyday priced offerings have [thankfully] recently been augmented with the addition of a Sonoma County "reserve" series of wines. This winery lays in the heart of Sonoma, I drove past it twice just a couple weeks ago but didn't go in as my travels had other destinations in mind. For nearly 20 years, they’ve cultivated close ties with grape growers and viticulturists throughout Sonoma County. Sonoma is their inspiration and their home, Sonoma remains the heart of Blackstone wines.

Danger, Will Robinson: Okay wine-rangers this is a warning, a shot across the bow if you will. Even though I loved, loved the Rubric, don't read into my review as a blanket endorsement for their other cellar dweller wines. Meaning the wines with the brown label selling for $7 just about everywhere are no where near the same quality as their Sonoma Reserve wines, you've been warned. Step up to just $9.99 [at TJ's] and you've hit pay dirt! I'm not like many wine-bloggers, I don't "gush" over every wine that comes across this desk, in fact there's mucho amounts of vino that will never see the light of day on this blog.

Composition: This red blend is Blackstone winemaker Gary Sitton's take on a Meritage-style Cabernet-based blend which leads the way at 55%. The winemaker really threw in the proverbial kitchen sink with this blend. So rounding out the blend the other varietals in the mix are Malbec; Cabernet Franc; Petit Verdot; Tannat; Merlot; and Petite Sirah.  The fruit was sourced from the following areas, Dry Creek Valley (59%), Sonoma County (20%), Sonoma Valley (15%), and Alexander Valley (6%).

Treatment and Case size: Oak [most likely 2nd use French] aging occurred over 20 months in combination of new and older barrels. 7,000 cases of this wine were produced. The reason I mention the case size is that while the case size is large the quality is also large and readily available.

What's a Meritage: Well according to the Meritage Alliance "red meritage wines historically have been among the world’s most highly rated wines." Very true, think about Bordeaux, which is the model for Meritage wines here in the states. And why are meritage wines so good? Because of "their smooth, silky texture and complex, robust structure coupled with the ability to age beautifully" — often for decades, while most are also very drinkable in their younger years. Like the Blackstone Winery Sonoma Reserve Rubric Sonoma County 2007 I will be reviewing today. Another word of advice, for god's sake don't pronounce it like a French word, folks will just roll their eyes and shake their heads in disbelief, it's Mer-it-tige! I really don't mind how you say it, as long as you find yourself of these wonderful wines.

Blend Rules: According to the Meritage Alliance, "a red meritage is a blend of two or more of the red “noble” Bordeaux varieties — Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and the rarer St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenère." The kicker, "If the blend includes any other grape variety, it is, by definition, not a Meritage!" Also, to qualify as a Meritage, no single grape variety can make up more than 90% of the blend. So technically this wine broke the rules and like Reggie Bush, will have to hand in its title or trophy status, sadly it's not a meritage. But it is darn close!

Full Disclosure: Hey FTC and anyone who may care, this wine was sent as a sample to Cuvée Corner Wine Blog for the review process over 4 weeks ago and has a SRP of $20.

Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 92 points on the Cuvée Corner 100 point scale. The QPR is off the charts, stupid good for the $9.99 price tag.

First Swirl: I did decant this wine, frankly it didn't really need it [contrary to what you've read on other blogs]. Sorry Gabe, you're just wrong. A bright shiny clean purple core, most likely the Malbec kicking in some blue tones and a pale cerise colored rim.

First Sniff: Bold dark and red fruits dominate the pronounced but wonderfully clean nose, while subtle well integrated notes of oak and vanilla dance delightfully together, while wafting gently from the glass. Isn't that a pretty scene?

First Slurp: Holding the goblet up to my mouth, I gave this wine a good [proper technique and all] swirl in that large cavity, sometimes called my mouth. This exercise confirmed the impressions I had upon putting my fat half Irish wine loving nose into the glass. This wine taste freaking fantastic, I was utterly amazed at its complexity and the overall flavor profile, dark red fruits, leather, mocha and trace minerality. The tannins were smooth as a babies ass [ohh, he said a bad word] and glided about nicely into a rather nice finish. Good Job, Blackstone!

Price and Where to Find: Okay Chula Vista this is your opportunity, I found a huge cache of this vino at my local Trader Joe's in East Lake and they are selling it for $9.99 each. You can also buy it from the Blackstone Winery website for a suggested retail price [SRP] of $22 each. C'mon this wine is just stupid good at the TJ price, so why would ya get it anywhere else?

My Recommendation: This wine is already sold out at a few TJ's around town, but you folks in the South Bay obviously need to put down that Two-buck upchuck and step up to something truly palatable for a few dollars more, your liver will thank you. I'm telling you once this review is posted it will not last long, I've called the over to this store and inquired about the status of this wine, they have something like twenty cases left and at this price you have my run don't walk recommendation. So hustle your buns down there now, buy a case or two and please tell them the Cuvee Corner Wine Blog sent ya.


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