We are huge fans of Charles Smith Wines here at Whitmore & White. This former rock band manager turned wine maker is as innovative and interesting as he is funky and cool and his wines are a welcome expression of his personality.
Charles started Charles Smith Wines in 2006 but his love of wine started much earlier. He grew up in Sacramento California and craved the chance to travel the world from a young age. So when an opportunity to move to Denmark came along he grabbed it with both hands. Whilst in Scandinavia, Charles became manager of a few rock bands and the wining and dining aspect of travelling with the bands fuelled an increasing passion for wine, which led to the career he has today.
Charles’ first foray into the world of actual winemaking came in 1999 when he moved back to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Settling outside Seattle, he opened a wine shop and on a road trip soon after he passed through the small town of Walla Walla where he met a young French winemaker. Realising they both had a passion for great Syrah, Charles was convinced to move to Walla Walla and make his own wine.
Two years later in 2001 just 330 cases of the K Syrah 1999 vintage was released. Five years later and Charles Smith Wines was born. It was themed as “The Modernist Project” which focuses on wines which show varietal typicity and vineyard site character, but most of all can be consumed and enjoyed now, which is certainly the modern way for modern wine drinkers.
The labels for Charles Smith Wines are big and bold and certainly reflect Charles’ character. So let’s take a look at some of his wines.
100% Riesling from Washington State. This is a mouthwatering citrus bomb of a wine. Lemon sherbet, lime zest and stone fruit lead to a good mineral core on the rounded palate. Great with Chinese or Thai dishes or seafood.
100% Chardonnay from the Ancient Lakes region of Washington State. This is not like those wines further down the west coast in California. Instead of those oak monsters this is much more refined, relying on the actual fruit characteristics of the Chardonnay grape rather than the (sometimes) over-use of oak. Golden-green in colour with notes of pear, peach, tangerine and guava the palate is as fresh as a daisy with balanced acidity to the fruit notes and a swathe of minerality running through the wine. Try this with carbonara
This wine is almost 100% Merlot, with just a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc (about 6%) added for balance of flavours. All of the fruit comes from Columbia Valley in Washington State. This is truly a velvety smooth wine but it is also full bodied and bursting with ripe blackberry, cherry and redcurrant. Truly an iron fist in a velvet glove and perfect with roast lamb.
Syrah with a touch of Viognier added for good measure from Washington Estate. Very much French in style, so think Northern Rhone, but with a touch more ripe fruit notes. So we are looking at blackberry, mulberry and blueberry with a savoury, dried meat edge and white pepper on the finish. Perfect with a peppered steak.
With a dash of Merlot added for balance, like the Boom Boom Syrah this wine is very much in the French style, so think damn fine red Bordeaux. Perfect for all of the claret lovers out there. Notes of tobacco leaf, earth, mocha and blackcurrant abound. Perfect with a deep beef casserole.
That's it from me this time - until next time, drink well!