Kungfu Girl and Eve: Two Charles Smith Washington State Beauties to Welcome Spring

Winery: Renowned, self-taught pioneer winemaker Charles Smith is the founder and winemaker behind Charles Smith Family wines. His “kick ass attitude and bold packaging has earned him the moniker ‘rock star’ of Washington State Syrah”. With his many diverse brands [K Vintners, Wines of Substance, Sixto, Charles & Charles, Secco and Vino] he is able to offer a wide variety of wines varying in cost from budget friendly to highly rated, single vineyard Syrahs in the $100 range. Within all of his labels, Smith strives to craft sustainably farmed wines that “are full of flavor, balanced, and true to place of origin”.

Created in 2006, the Charles Smith Wines label was themed as “The Modernist Project”. Focusing on how people tend to drink wine today, which is immediately, the goal is to create approachable wines “to be enjoyed now, but with true typicity of both the varietal and the vineyard”. A fantastic concept; a Riesling that tastes like a Riesling from Washington State! Modern with a sassy edge, Charles Smith labels are renowned for their clean black and white artwork created by Charles Smith and artist Rikke Korffsure. Super eye catching and easily recognizable, the style has become synonymous with K Vintners and Charles Smith.

Philosophy: “It’s just wine, drink it.”

Winemaking: Both Riesling and Chardonnay grapes were sourced from the ‘Evergreen’ Vineyard. Planted in 1998, the vineyard stretches across steep cliffs above the Columbia River, within Washington’s newest AVA, Ancient Lakes. The soil is composed of fragmented volcanic rock, gravel, limestone and silt, and is known for producing “fruit with sublime mineral character and great acidity”. Kungfu Girl Riesling was aged on the lees for 2 months in barrels. Eve Chardonnay was fermented with partially native yeasts. Aged on the lees for 5 months in barrels [no new oak].

Charles Smith ‘Kungfu Girl’ Riesling Washington State 2015
Pale gold in colour with invigorating aromas of grass, apple, earth and petrol. Peach, green apple, pear and minerals are glazed with a touch of honey. Perfectly balanced, with an energizing play between acidity and subtle sweetness carrying thru to the clean, zippy finish. Super refreshing and easy drinking, the moderate alcohol contributes to what I would call “fantastically gluggable”.

Pairing Suggestion from the Winery: Thai or Chinese food, five spice pork or duck, fresh seafood.

100% Riesling
12% Alcohol
$12 [average price]

Charles Smith ‘Eve’ Chardonnay Washington State 2014
Gold in colour with aromas of lemon balm, orange blossom, anise and a trace of butter. Silky layers of lemon, apple, pear and a streak of minerality culminate in a delectable creamy finish. Sunny and cheerful, fantastic on its own or with a wide variety of dishes. [It was perfect with goat gouda grilled cheese with arugula.]

Pairing Suggestion from the Winery: Golden squash with sautéed Shrimp.

100% Chardonnay
13.5% Alcohol
$12 [average price]


Samples submitted for review purpose.

Between the Lines Winery

Located in Niagara on the Lake in Ontario, Canada, Between the Lines Winery is run by brothers Greg and Yannick Wertsch. They grew up in Germany working their grandfather’s vineyards, when the family came to Canada their father purchased land in order to carry on the family’s winemaking traditions. The name of the winery is a reflection of the roads in the area, which are labeled north/south as Line 1 Rd, Line 2 Rd, etc. [If they had used their surname, the pronunciation would have resulted in it sounding like “Worst Winery”]

Greg studied Wine Economics at Geisenheim University in Germany. He is the more public face of the winery and manages the marketing and day-to-day operations. Yannick studied winemaking and viticulture at Niagara College, and then continued at Weinbauschule University in Weinsberg, Germany. He is known as “the quiet one” and focuses on winemaking, “allowing the region to speak for itself instead of influencing it through aging or other winemaking processes”. Their red wines are only briefly barrel aged in order to maintain the terroir and preserve the fruit character.


Greg explaining his innovative ‘Origin’, sparkling Vidal single serving cans. At the time of my visit it was unreleased. It is now taking the market by storm and receiving fantastic reviews.

During our visit*, I had the immense pleasure of a private tasting with Greg. Knowing your soil is one of the foundations of winemaking and Greg provided in-depth detail about the distinctive terroir of their 40 acres of vineyards. Pockets of glacial deposits cut across the land, so the soil can dramatically change every couple of feet. The main soil is mixed, sandy loam, whilst the glacial deposits are heavy clay. They take advantage of these contrasting characteristics to suit different varietals needs. Cabernet Franc is planted in the lighter soils, as it receives more heat, whilst Chardonnay is grown in the clay deposits, as clay remains cooler in the heat.


Between the Lines Riesling 2014
Their Riesling is the result of years of listening to what their customers are looking for and experimenting with different fermentation approaches. People were not interested in a dry Riesling, so they use maolactic fermentation on half the volume of the wine. Malic acid confers granny smith and buttery notes and removes some of the acidity and dryness.
Fresh and fruity with citrus, apples and minerals. Light, clean and crisp, this is perfect for summer sipping.
$15 [Canadian Dollars]

Between the Lines Gewurztraminer 2014
Well balanced, with a fantastic play of sweetness and acidity. Loaded with fresh fruit [peach, apricot traces of mango] along with hints of buttery fruit tart, culminating in a fruity finish.
11.5% Alcohol
$15 [Canadian Dollars]


Between the Lines Pinot Noir 2013
The 2013 harvest saw the Pinot Noir grapes coming in with high alcohol; they did open fermentation in order to reduce the level. Aged for 3 months in French oak barrels, the wine was very aromatic with aromas of cherry and sun warmed bricks. Soft cherry and black cherry flavours are backed by a food friendly acidity, finishing with hints of earth and dried cherry. [The brothers are honored that this has been selected as the official Red Wine served and sold at Ontario’s Legislative Assembly for 2016. In fact, during our visit, they were in the process of removing the original label and replacing it with one chosen by the Assembly.]
13% Alcohol
$16 [Canadian Dollars]


Between the Lines Meritage Reserve 2013
Aged for 18 months in oak, Cabernet Franc is the star of this blend. Bright tart fruit harmonizes with a streak of almost smoky minerality. Fantastic with hearty dishes.
12.5% Alcohol
$28 [Canadian Dollars]


Between the Lines Vidal Icewine 2013
Decidedly different from many Icewines, this is wonderfully balanced with a vibrant acidity to break up the sugar. Gorgeous, rich pear, peach, and honey flavours are never overwhelming. This is fantastic with both sweet and savory dishes.
11% Alcohol

*During our visit to NOTL [Niagara on the Lake] in Ontario, my husband and I booked an all day, private winery tour with Niagara Vintage Tours. Check out their fantastic array of tours and packages here. Our driver Chris, was incredibly engaging and all around fantastic. He took the time to learn what we were most interested in, and focused the tour around those aspects.

Old York Cellars Sweet Riesling & Merlot


Estate: Old York Cellars is located in the Ringoes section of Hunterdon County and contains some of the oldest vineyards in New Jersey. Owner David Wolin currently has 12 acres of vineyards, cultivating a diverse selection including Barbera, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Syrah and Riesling. In addition to award winning wines and a lovely tasting room, they also hold special events such as art exhibits, yoga classes and Master Chef Dinners. Check out their website Old York Cellars for current special offers and to purchase the tasty wines below.

Old York Cellars Sweet Riesling 2013
Gold in colour with radiant aromas of honeysuckle, lime and fresh herbaceous elements. Sweet red apple and honeysuckle flavours are balanced by hints of pleasantly bitter citrus zest. A versatile, sweeter Riesling that is great on its own or fantastic with a wide variety of dishes, from fruit, chocolate to cheddar cheese.
100% Riesling

Old York Cellars Merlot NV
An interesting example of the innovative spirit of the winemaker, this is a blend of the 2013 and 2014 vintages. 2013 was a huge, bold vintage, whilst 2014 saw young, light grapes. Winemaker Scott Gares excersised his artistic flair by blending the two together to create an well balanced wine.

Garnet in color with floral aromas highlighted by strawberry preserves and earth notes. Fruity and plush with cherry and strawberry flavours joined by hints of baking chocolate in the medium body, culminating in a big smoky earth finish. This pairs wonderfully with hearty dishes.
100% Merlot
13.3% Alcohol


samples submitted for review purpose

Wente Vineyards ‘Riverbank’ Riesling Arroyo Seco 2013

Estate: Located east of San Francisco in the California’s Livermore Valley, Wente Vineyards is the country’s oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery. Today 5th generation winemaker Karl D Wente heads the 3000 acre estate, blending family traditions and modern, innovative winemaking practices. The family is passionate about sustainable practices in both the vineyards and winery, and with over a century dedicated to preserving their lands, they have developed the Wente family’s “Farming for the Future program. Created with the health and well-being of its employees, the local community and the planet in mind”, the program “enhances the vitality of the soils, creates a balanced, sustainable ecology, minimizes water use and reduces non-organic wastes”. For more details on the program and Wente Vineyards impressive sustainability practices, please click here .

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from the Riverbank estate vineyard, located in the Arroyo Seco appellation. Fermented cold in stainless steel and aged in stainless steel tanks.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with ardent aromas of honeysuckle, apple and ginger. Lush apple and pineapple flavours are balanced by a fresh acidity, whilst spicy ginger, pink grapefruit and mineral traces comprise the crisp finish. A solid semi-sweet Riesling at this price point, wonderfully balanced and easy drinking.

Pairing Suggestion from the Winery: Delightful as an aperitif or served with fruits, cheeses and a variety of light entrees.

90% Riesling, 10% Gewürztraminer
Arroyo Seco / Monterey
Produced and Bottled by Wente Vineyards
12.5% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2018

Selbach ‘incline’ Mosel Riesling 2013


Referred to as “all that Mosel wine should be”, this is a fantastic, affordable approach into the exquisite, renowned world of Mosel Riesling.

Estate: The Selbach family has been making wine for 400 years, today Barbara and Johannes Selbach are at the helm, their children Hannah and Sebastian will be the next generation of Selbach winemakers. The 21 hectares of vineyards are located on steep slate slopes in the “golden mile” from Zeltingen, Wehlen, Graach to Bernkastel, in the heart of the Mosel region of Germany. Johannes’s winemaking skills are said to be “on fire” and improve with each vintage. Selbach-Oster is their premium range of wines; Selbach is the entry level label of the estate. Selbach ‘incline’ was produced by Johannes Selbach “to simply outshine all Mosel Rieslings at, or near, its price point”.

Philosophy: To “produce Riesling wines of top quality, grown in harmony with Nature”, along with allowing that “nature should take it’s course and the wine should be interfered with as little as possible”.

Winemaking: The name ‘incline’ refers to the incredibly steep slopes of the vineyards. All vineyard work is done by hand, from pruning to harvesting. Wild, indigenous yeasts are used during fermentation. Vinified in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with aromas of white flowers, pear and minerals. Clear and vibrant with pear and honeysuckle flavours skating atop a slate mineral backbone, a complimenting, bright acidity introduces the refreshing lemon finish.

[A Terry Theise Estate Selection. I am a huge fan of Terry Theise, and find his wines and writing inspirational. I’m a firm believer that his book Reading Between the Wines should be on everyone’s shelf.]

100% Riesling
Bottled and Shipped by J. & H. Selbach Weinkellerei
11.5% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2018

Rated 90 points by Wine Spectator