What I’m Drinking Now: Blackstone Sonoma Reserve

blackstoneI had the pleasure of meeting and tasting with Gary Sitton a few weeks ago.  Gary is the winemaker for Blackstone Winery.  Yes, that Winemakers Select Merlot that we all drank before Sideways, back when Merlot became a hit.  I have to admit, I haven’t had a bottle of the Winemaker Select in a while, but I thoroughly enjoyed Gary’s new project, the Blackstone Sonoma Reserve. 

More on that to come, but a little about Gary.  He joined Blackstone just a short while ago, and this year’s Sonoma Reserve is really the first that he has been directly involved with fr0m start to end.  Trained under Joel Peterson at Ravenswood, Gary is a winemaker that understands that you have to have the wine that will appeal to the masses; but additionally you can make that special wine , with great structure, balance and depth that represents place, and individual style.  And, that Sonoma, and California is one of the best places to create great wine in.  If you read about my meeting with Joel, philosophies sound similar. 

With a Masters from UC Davis, one of the best wine schools in the country, and training under one of the original greats in California with Joel, Gary has a solid understanding of what it takes to make good wine.  What he has done with the Sonoma Reserve proves he can take it to the next level.

Sonoma Reserve Chardonnay : I would put this Chardonnay up next to many notable, and more expensive, California Chards.  Clean, crisp and vibrant, while being complex, this $15-$20 Chardonnay is well balanced and structured, while still a little green and maintaining an easy drinking style.  I am always looking for a tasty white that I can start a night with, that isn’t a “throw away.”  Though it may not be the feature wine of the night, I love to start an evening with a white, and would take a Sonoma Reserve Chardonnay any day.

The Sonoma Reserve Rubric is that featured wine.  I love a blend, and this again, is a great representation for the value.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah and Tannat (good for the heart) produce ripe fruit flavors, with elevated dried cherry, currant and plum with rich spice and a solid profile makes this $20ish wine a deeply enjoyable wine.

The Sonoma Reserve Pinot Noir, from these Pinot friendly Sonoma vines, proves to be easily comparable to others from the Sonoma region.  Cherry, Strawberry and raspberry fruit forward, while maintaining all that we love about Pinot – deep berry, bright cherry and slight earthy notes.

Happily, the Sonoma Reserve is an excellent, high valued option wine from Blackstone.  I am a bit of a broken record about this wine with my friends.  Let’s hope future releases prove to be as tasty!

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