Blacksmith

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.

 
Wine Maker

Matt Smith

Country

USA

Region

California


Wines from this Winery


NV Blacksmith Alameda Seaport White Dessert Wine Bourbon Barrel Aged (375ml)

This late harvest white was made from 100% Semillon sourced from a cool vineyard in Southern Mendocino. The vines are about 20 years old and, uniquely, planted on their own roots. The bourbon casks used for aging added a slight hint of bourbon whiskey to the rich aromas of citrus fruits soaked in honey. Grapes were picked at harvest time with sugar of 36 brix; the wine has 8% residual sugar, meaning that it’s similar to a late-harvest German riesling but not as sweet as a Sauternes. Production was miniscule - just 50 cases. 

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¥2,860 (incl. tax)
2017 Blacksmith Carneros Reserve Chardonnay

Another high value effort from Blacksmith! But here we have a fine Chardonnay produced from a small vineyard on the Sonoma side of Carneros. The cool climate of the district endowed this wine with pure fruit, verve, structure and fresh acidity. Matt Smith’s low-impact, craft approach to winemaking produced a wine that is plump and rich, complex and well-balanced. A peer among the great Carneros Chardonnays, but so affordable it’s in a class of its own. 

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¥4,290 (incl. tax)
2018 Blacksmith Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Think “Dry Creek Valley,” and rolling hills of gnarled, old, head-pruned Zinfandel vines may spring to mind. But it’s not a secret that the region produces standout, if under-appreciated, Cabernet Sauvignon, too. Because the Dry Creek Valley is cooler than the Alexander Valley, but less foggy than the Russian River Valley, the Cabernet wines tend toward a refined and elegant style, with Bordeaux-like structure, body and savory complexity. This blend of 90% Cabernet and 10% Merlot was sourced from a single vineyard planted on the east side of Dry Creek Valley, where rocky hillsides with thin soils contribute to small berry size and great fruit concentration. A lively nose of high-toned blackberry, violets and lavender opens up to generous flavors of red and blue fruits, olives, crème de cassis and cocoa. Try this juicy wine with grilled meats or veggies, pork tenderloin, or aged cheeses. 

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¥4,400 (incl. tax)
2018 Blacksmith Teldeschi Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel

With roots in a small Tuscan village, the Teldeschi family has been growing grapes and making wine in the Dry Creek Valley for over 100 years. They purchased their eponymous vineyard on the rolling benchlands on the eastern side of the valley in the 1940s. However, it had been planted in the 1920s, with some of the oldest blocks going back as far as the 1880s. For decades, they sold their grapes to local large producers, such as the Frei Brothers (later, Gallo of Sonoma), as well as to Italian home winemakers in the Bay Area. In the 1980s, a new generation of Zinfandel producers convinced the family that the fruit of the old, head-pruned vines was too special for jug wine, and Teldeschi Vineyard bottlings by the likes of Ravenswood and Ridge Vineyards introduced California wine lovers to the unique character of Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley. As for this Blacksmith Teldeschi Vineyard Zin, see it as one more example of Matt Smith’s talent for procuring grapes from an excellent vineyard in a top appellation and making a wine that punches way above its price point. 

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¥4,840 (incl. tax)
2017 Blacksmith

When “value” is applied to plonk that tastes okay, Blacksmith Cellar’s C.L.R.T. raises the bar on that term - and them some! How else to describe a Bordeaux blend – aka claret – assembled from great Napa Valley vineyards but sold at a price less than half what you’d expect? Cabernet Sauvignon with a hefty portion of Merlot and a dollop of Cabernet Franc, C.L.R.T. is a seductive wine with everything you expect from a Napa Cab: deep black cherry, blackberry cassis, dark chocolate and vanilla notes, cinnamon and spice. Enjoy this wine that delivers pleasure now and will for a decade or more. 

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¥4,950 (incl. tax)
2018 Blacksmith Stag’s Leap District Merlot

With the prices of Napa Valley wine trending ever higher, it’s up to small craft producers like Matt Smith (who happens to have great relationships with growers in the best places) to deliver a Stags Leap Merlot that the rest of us can afford. In 2018, Stags Leap as well as the greater Napa Valley enjoyed an ideal growing season, followed by a long, slow-paced harvest. The wine is velvety rich with fragrances of violets, lavender and black cherry. 5% Cabernet Sauvignon was added to add depth and extend the finish. 

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¥5,390 (incl. tax)
2017 Blacksmith Oakville Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Oakville produces some of Napa Valley’s most illustrious (and expensive!) wines. Blacksmith Cellars’ Oakville Reserve is a wine with a pedigree but a reasonable price. About this wine, the winery says, “We have always sought to obtain absolute perfection in our Cabernet Sauvignon and this Oakville fruit represents the best of what we ferment.  The fragrant bouquet offers up voluptuous black cherries and currents woven together with layers of rich French oak extract. The structure is massive and densely packed.  The concentrated, full-bodied flavors of crème de cassis, vanilla, and espresso persist through the long power packed finish.  The Oakville Reserve will pair beautifully with a wide variety of rich foods and will age easily for the next 10-15 years.”

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¥7,150 (incl. tax)