Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Blackstone Cabernet – 2007, has Blackstone lost that loving feeling?

After my recent discovery of Mark West wines and former Blackstone owner, Derek Benham, I thought maybe it was time to revisit my old friend Blackstone. Blackstone really was the wine that started my love affair with wine. I think previous to Blackstone my only wine experience had been with Boone’s Farm and some Rose…don’t judge me, I was young. It all started when I was invited to a friend’s home for a wine tasting. The night before I was at a bar and somehow started talking to a local wine distributor. I asked him to recommend some wines to take to the tasting. He told me hands down, purchase Blackstone and I did.

The night of the tasting, Blackstone not only hooked me but also several other people became followers and would buy cases to stock their wine cellar. Blackstone became one of those great comforting friends who would never let you down and you knew the taste would always be fabulous. The wine had a way of wrapping its arms around you like a velvet blanket. Then something changed, Blackstone had lost that loving’ feeling’ and I couldn’t figure out what had changed between the two of us. I finally learned, it wasn’t me, it was Blackstone. It seems once the brand changed hands, the love was gone.

So I muster up my courage and agree to face my old friend once again. Before I even open the bottle I can tell Blackstone is different, the cork is no longer a natural cork but synthetic. There’s nothing wrong with a synthetic cork, but the wine will never soften due to natural bottle aging. I take in the aromas of plums, oak and a slight pepper. When I taste the wine, I’m immediately disappointed, the wine feels flat and thin as it hits my palate making the wine very one dimensional. What happened to the fruit forward, complex wine that had so many followers in the early part of the decade? I think I actually had tears, I was really hoping we could mend our differences and pick up right where we left off.

I can’t help notice Cabernet profiled on the Blackstone website is a 2004. Well if I remember correctly, the 2004 vintage was still delightful. Derek Benham sold Blackstone in 2001; did the winemaker leave shortly after? The current Blackstone winemaker has been making wine for 10 years, but there’s no mention whether he got his start at Blackstone of if he came on board later. Does anyone know??? I’m actually thinking of calling the winery and asking them this very question.

Before I completely break up with Blackstone, I think I need to give the Merlot another chance. This is after all the wine that put Blackstone on the map. In listening to a podcast with Gary Sitton, Blackstone winemaker, he has piqued my interest enough to give the Merlot a chance. He talks the Blackstone concept of providing quality and wine drinker friendly wines at affordable prices. Maybe there’s hope for reconciliation after all. Stay tuned for the Merlot report.

I found Blackstone on sale at Publix for $8.99. It normally retails for $10.99-$12.99

Chickadee word of the day:
Winemaker – An expert at making wine, who’s usually in charge of all steps of the wine production at the winery.

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