Tasting Blackstone Reserve Wines with Winemaker Gary Sitton
Blackstone is known for its supermarket brand — the company sells over 16 million bottles of budget wines each year — but you may not know about its Reserve lineup, which comprises less than 10 percent of its sales.
Recently I tasted through the Reserve lineup with winemaker Gary Sitton, a veteran of Ravenswood and a devotee of Sonoma County, where Blackstone sources all of its fruit for the Reserve series.
All priced at $22 or less, these aren’t budget-breaking wines, but for the most part they’re perfectly drinkable. Comments on each of the five follow.
2008 Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Chardonnay – Not overly oaked, intriguing with the addition of 3% muscat, from which you can actually taste the citrusy/spicy character. B / $17
2007 Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Pinot Noir – Adds 7% syrah, a traditional Burgundy trick. Not too complicated, with good enough fruit and an earthiness that isn’t overdone. B / $19
2007 Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Merlot – Surprisingly tart, includes 7% cabernet sauvignon, 6% ruby cabernet, and 2% petit verdot. Cherry body isn’t terribly inspiring, but it’s easygoing. B- / $19
2007 Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Includes 7% cab franc, 4% petit verdot, and 2% malbec. Big and plummy, with minimal tannin. Young and fresh. B+ / $19
2007 Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Rubric – A big mutt of a wine: 55% cabernet sauvignon, 14% malbec, 8% cabernet franc, 8% petit verdot, 7% tannat, 5% merlot. Surprisingly, it’s pretty good, similar in structure to the cabernet but with more nuance and intrigue. A- / $22