Today’s Story: Blankiet Estate
Blankiet’s roots start with Claude and Katherine Blankiet, a couple who spent years searching for land conducive to grape growing on the western foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains. Finally, in early 1996, an agent working with the Blankiet family showed them an undeveloped property above the famous Napanook vineyard (and Dominus Estate) and the Blankiets purchased the land on site. From the onset of their search, Claude and Katherine desired to create world-class, high-quality, small production Bordeaux style wines and now, with ownership of the land, set right to work.
During development of the vineyards, the Blankiets brought in famed viticulturist David Abreu and winemaker Helen Turley for their expertise. The terroir of Blankiet consists of three volcanic knolls with alluvial deposits between them thanks to water flowing down from the mountains. The vineyards are broken into four sections, each with a unique subsoil and microclimate, and they used root stocks from First Growth Bordeaux estates to get the ball rolling. I encourage you to explore their website https://www.blankiet.com/ for more, as I’d like to talk about my visit to the winery for the remainder of this post.
I was fortunate to visit the winery this past September, and we arrived slowly by way of a long, winding gravel road up into the hills to the Blankiet gate. Once inside, our host Patrick greeted us and walked us through the vineyards where we had an opportunity to taste grapes off the vine. Fortunately, workers were sorting grapes while we were there so we got to see them using dual optical sorters in addition to the classic hand sorting many of us picture. Before walking into the caves, Patrick shared some juice that was beginning its fermentation process from one of the tanks.
Once in the caves, Patrick showed us the barrels they use and discussed the process of fighting evaporation as the wine ages. Unlike many wineries, Blankiet does not fill evaporation in their barrels with sulfur dioxide but rather refills the barrel with more wine. This practice fits well with their goal of crafting wine that is true to form and of superior quality.
After the cave tour, we drove further uphill to the Blankiet family home to do what we came for: taste wine. Patrick guided us through a tasting of five wines accompanied by cheese, charcuterie, and crackers while also giving us a sneak peek tasting of two wines yet to be released. Keep an eye out for these two upcoming wines, as they were quite delicious and while I’m keeping them secret now I think you will know exactly what I’m talking about when they launch.
Today’s Wine: 2014 Blankiet Estate Paradise Hills Vineyard
85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc; 14% ABV
I had an opportunity to taste several Blankiet wines during my visit this past September (including two special wines not yet released), but figured it prudent to open a bottle now to review for my site. This wine is medium purple/ruby in color and surprisingly transparent. The nose showcases aromas of blackberry, blueberry, redcurrant, raspberry, gravel, mild tobacco, and oak. The nose is rather tight due to its youth and either needs a ton of air or 5-7 more years of bottle age. On the palate we get notes of black cherry, cranberry, jammy strawberry, crushed stone almost chalky in nature, blood, and ground cooking herbs. Full-bodied with mouthwatering high acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long black fruit compote finish. This is already a wonderfully elegant wine but needs time to bring out some of the complexities. 840 cases produced.
Price: $200. This is not your everyday bottle, though it is a fantastic bottle of wine for a celebratory occasion. After visiting the winery and seeing how much care, precision, and hard work goes into each bottle I can comfortably recommend the wine. Pair this with beef or lamb.