Why do we buy soft things? Well, simply because we like to feel good, and few other bottles hit that feel-good factor better than the Blackbird Illustration. Brimming with berry opulence, epicurean savoriness, and decadent tannic plenty, this songbird is patiently waiting for its satisfying moment in your glass.
Using the Right Bank masterpieces of St. Émilion as the inspirational model, Blackbird proprietor Michael Polenske has assembled the two critical components that make things click in the glass: superlative vineyards and winemaking talent. Having first acquired the property made famous by Selene Merlot (a critical favorite), he turned his attention to fruit contracts from other established sources like Stagecoach and Crocker & Starr. Then came the winemaking team of Aaron Pott and Sarah Gott. Between them, they can count Château Troplong Mondot, Château La Tour Figeac, Joseph Phelps “Insignia” and Quintessa as wines they’ve produced. Not a bad lineup. Throw in endorsements from everyone from Wine Spectator to Robb Report to Men’s Journal, and it’s clear that these Blackbirds will not stay on the ground for very long.
The Merlot-dominated 2016 Illustration Proprietary Red Wine (there's 21% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon) is also impressive, with a smoky, black cherry, blackberry, leafy herb, and earthy style in its medium to full-bodied, layered, structured personality. I love its purity, and like the Contrarian, it has a firm, focused style that's going to benefit from short-term cellaring. Nevertheless, it's a seriously good Merlot!