2014 Blacksmith Cellars Stag’s Leap District Merlot


Blacksmith Cellars is a 1,500 case winery that rests upon the vision, dedication and hard work of one man, Matt Smith. Passionate about both the science and art of wine, he approaches his craft in ways that seem simultaneously systematic and inspired. He makes his wines in a warehouse located on the grounds of the former Naval Air Station in Alameda - across the bay from San Francisco. Because he doesn’t own a patch of vineyard, he’ll make wine from whatever comes through his network of growers - or even the spot market. As a result, he’s sourced grapes from Mendocino, Alexander Valley, Oakville, Stags’ Leap, Lodi, and Monterey and has worked with a range of varieties - from the well-known (Cabernet, Chardonnay, Syrah, Grenache) to the underrated  (Barbera, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc) to the obscure (Torrontes, Malvasia Blanca, Verdelho). Originally from Virginia, Smith was studying Chemistry at Sonoma State University in the early 19990s when he was hit by the winemaking bug. A stint at Beaulieu Vineyards was followed by an enology degree at Fresno State and then being hired as assistant winemaker to Sam Dashe, a fellow “urban winemaker” who became an important mentor. Smith struck out on his own in 2004 with an Alexander Valley Cabernet. With that first wine, Sam established his method of doing all the jobs himself: tending the vines, picking, sorting, crushing, pressing, punching down, blending and bottling. From the start, Blacksmith Cellars has received critical accolades and plenty of fans, but the need to maintain control of his process and vision has restrained any temptation to grow the winery to beyond what Smith can do solo. Happily for us, he has also resisted the temptation to raise prices. From Blacksmith Cellars we can get an artisan product - delicious, well-made wine from top appellations at an affordable price.


From the Stags Leap District, Blacksmith Cellars delivers another great bargain. About this wine, the winery says, “The Merlot is blended with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon to add depth to the mid-pallet and extension to the finish.  Only 2% was used however so that the velvety rich texture of the Merlot would not be lost.  Symmetry and balance are the key characteristics of this wine which offers a fragrant bouquet of violet intermixed with lavender and black cherry.  Oak spice, black olive, and rich cassis fill out the pallet which extends into a beautifully balanced finish.”


Fermented in 0.5 t plastic bins and aged 19 months in French oak. 

Tasting notes

Complex aromas of ripe plum, blueberries, black cherries, mocha, cloves pepper, and licorice is followed by a soft palate of black olives and cassis, structured by firm tannins and refreshing acidity. 


Stags Leap District (Napa)


98% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon