A Fun, Dashing Trio of Washington State Reds from Rock Star Winemaker Charles Smith

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 Syrah that tastes like a Syrah 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.”

Charles Smith Wines ‘The Velvet Devil’ Merlot Washington State 2014

“Truth in a name: Velvet.”

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from the following sustainably farmed vineyards: Sundance, Art Den Hoed, Goose Ridge, Weyns, Hawk, Oasis and Purple Sage. Whole berry fermentation with partial native yeasts. Aged for 10 months on the lees in 30% new French oak barrels.

Tasting Notes: Bright garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, warm summer woods and crushed black peppercorn. A spicy edge to the ripe, plush fruit [think blackberry, cherry, wild strawberry]. Appropriately named, velvety tannins fuse with summer woods and spice on the lengthy, plush finish. Fantastic on its own, versatile at the table.

94% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc
13.6% Alcohol
$12 [average price]

Charles Smith Wines ‘Boom Boom!’ Syrah Washington State 2014

“I can tell you this. It is the best Boom Boom! thus far.”

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from the following sustainably farmed vineyards: Art Den Hoed, Pheasant, Weyns, Arete and Gamache. 30% whole cluster fermentation together with the Viognier. Aged on the lees in old oak barrels.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of wild berry jam, vanilla and crushed pink peppercorn. Exuding fruit & spice, with cherry, black cherry, blueberry, plum, vanilla and a trace of roasted herbs wrapped around a pepper spice backbone. Silky tannins compliment dark chocolate dusted fruit on the woodsy finish. An elegant edge to the well balanced fruit and spice, each glass will disappear rather swiftly.

97% Syrah, 3% Viognier
13.5% Alcohol
$17 [average price]

Charles Smith Wines ‘Chateau Smith’ Cabernet Sauvignon Washington State 2014

“If you like Cabernet dark and rich, this is your sexy beast.”

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from the following sustainably farmed vineyards: Art Den Hood, Hawk, Roza Hills, Wahluke Slope, Don Talcott and Clifton Bluff. Whole berry fermentation with native yeasts. Aged on the lees for 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with inviting aromas of roasted jalapenos, cherry, fresh herbs, vanilla and toasted oak. Plump cherry, blackberry and red currant fruits are balanced by a bright acidity. Velvety tannins underscore earth, tobacco and pink peppercorn. The rich fruit follows thru to the plush, lengthy finish, joining vanilla and subtle toasted oak. Well structured, with a robust character, an engaging companion to a wide variety of dishes.

96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot
13.5% Alcohol
$19 [average price]

 

Samples submitted for review purpose.

Domaine Font-Mars ‘Clémence’ Rosé Pays d’Oc 2015

Processed with Snapseed.

Estate: Jean-Baptiste de Clock preserves and continues on with his family’s winemaking traditions that began all the way back in 1679. Domaine Font-Mars is located in the Languedoc region of southern France. The limestone clay soils of the vineyards are known for their fossilized dinosaur eggs: “The dinosaurs, did not set on their eggs, but hid them in river-banks, and incubated them in heaps of fermenting vegetation, which gave off the required heat. It is in respect to this touching past, that we name property of FONT-MARS, the soil of dinosaurs.”

Winemaking: The 55 hectares of vineyards are sustainably farmed. The Syrah grapes are grown in vineyards with clay and chalk soils.

Tasting Notes: Super pale coral in colour with aromas of pink grapefruit and chalky minerals. Straightforward and pure with tart, wild raspberry and chalky minerals melding into a cleansing grapefruit finish. An edgy, tart gal that makes your mouth pucker.

100% Syrah
Pays d’Oc IGP
France
Bottled by GFA Font-Mars
12.5% Alcohol
$11
Enjoy now thru 2017

Montes Trio Tasting: Three Diverse Wines to Enjoy All Summer

montestrio

Estate: Montes was established in the late 1980’s by four wine professionals with the goal of crafting “Chilean wines a quantum-leap higher in quality than the standards” that were currently in practice. Founder and winemaker Aurelio Montes professes “80% of good wine comes from the vineyards and only 20% from the cellar”. With that in mind, the estate not only employs sustainable viticulture, they also aim at conserving the environment. Currently they have conserved 400 hectares of indigenous forest in the Maule region, along with protecting biological corridors that enable the natural development of both plant and animal life. Preservation of the environment has resulted in the estate [including both farming and winemaking activities] to be Carbon Neutral as the forest absorbs all of the CO2 produced from both agricultural and winemaking activities. [Certified Sustainable, Carbon Neutral and Fair for Life]

Philosophy: “To make wines of the highest quality while caring for the environment and our people and developing a sustainable culture in every phase of production.”

The following 3 wines are wonderful companions to summer activities, from patio sipping to barbecues to quiet dinners.

Montes Spring Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards with granite and clay soils located in the Leyda Valley. The Sauvignon Blanc is unique in that it is harvested 21 days earlier then normal. Similar to Beaujolais Nouveau, it is the very first Chilean Sauvignon Blanc to hit the shelves each year.
100% Sauvignon Blanc
12% Alcohol
$16 [average price]

Tasting Notes: Pale straw in colour with sunny aromas of lemon, white flowers and grass. Bright and crisp, with fresh tropical fruit [pineapple, kiwi] gliding over an herbaceous, lemon drenched backbone complimented by a food friendly acidity. Lemon and lime notes linger on the zippy finish. A perfect pairing with salty foods, it was fantastic with buttery popcorn.

Pairing suggestion from the Winery: Sushi, ceaser salad, ceviche, shellfish, veggie pastas, lemon chicken.

montessaub

Montes Spring Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2016

The Montes ‘Alpha’ line was the first premium Chilean wine. The line is also noted for its sustainable dry farming method developed by Aurelio Montes, where “nature waters the vines. If rainfall is insufficient for vine growth and development, the winery supplements with minimal irrigation to compensate for the difference. The result: 65% less water usage, and lush, elegant wines.” Grapes for both the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are sourced from the Colchagua Valley vineyards, specifically from the Finca Apalta and Marchigüe properties.

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Winemaking: 55% of the wine was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.
90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot
14.3% Alcohol
$16 [average price]

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with tempting aromas of wild berry jam black pepper and hints of vanilla. Silky layers of fresh blackberry, raspberry, nutmeg and vanilla laced oak evolve into a dry, baking spice and crushed white peppercorn finish. Well balanced and silky smooth, this is a fantastically versatile Cab that can be paired with just about any dish, or lovely sipping on its own. [I paired with a super dense, creamy alfredo pasta topped with peppery grilled tempeh.]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Dishes with red sauce and mushroom sauce, all red meats.

montescab

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Montes Alpha Syrah 2013
Winemaking: 55% of the wine was aged for 12 months in first and second use French oak barrels.
90% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Viognier
14.5% Alcohol
$16 [average price]

Tasting Notes: Inky red-violet in colour with aromas of blackberry, blueberry, vanilla and spiced oak. Dark berry jam flavours saturate the core of caramel laced peppery spice and velvety tannins. Jammy fruit and spice notes carry thru and are joined by toasted oak on the lengthy finish. Concentrated and velvety, this is a plush Syrah that can make the transition from dinner to dessert. [I paired with cheese manicotti dinner and then followed with a dark chocolate and hazelnut bar dessert.]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Chinese dishes, pasta, all meat, especially red meat.

montessyrah

Montes Alpha Syrah 2013

 

 

 

Samples submitted for review purpose.

Wild Oats Central Ranges Shiraz 2011

wildoats

Big and bold with velvety fruit wrapped around a spicy, earthy core.

Winery: Wild Oats wines are a label of Robert Oatley Vineyards, founded over 40 years ago by accomplished businessman and passionate sailor Robert [Bob] Oakley. Today the winery is still headed by Bob Oatley, along with his eldest son Sandy. Combining Bob’s lifelong passion for both winemaking and sailing, Wild Oats is named in honor of his successful series of yachts. Grapes for the Wild Oates brand are sourced from vineyards located in the Central Ranges district just over the Blue Mountains, northwest of Sydney.

Philosophy: “To craft wines that have varietal clarity, focus and which reflect their provenance – in a very modern fashion”. Wild Oats wines are intended to be “approachable – modern classics – crafted for immediate enjoyment and drinking”. Wines of character and integrity.”

Winemaking: The Oatley family is committed to protecting the environment; sustainable methods are practiced in both the vineyards and other winemaking production areas. Although not certified, the vineyards are farmed organically, and wines are made with as little intervention as possible.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of brambly wild berries and black pepper. Layers of wild berry jam and spicy black pepper wrap around an earthy core and finish with velvety black cherry along with traces of chocolate and smoky oak.

100% Shiraz
Central Ranges
Australia
Produced and Bottled by Robert Oatley Vineyards
13.5% Alcohol
$13
Enjoy now

Pasos de la Capula Syrah 2012

thpnsyrah

A good value at only $9, easy drinking and a pleasant companion to hearty dishes. [Photobomb by Rocky]

Winery: Bodegas Abanico is a project created by Rafael De Haan and Nuria Altes with the mission of searching out the best wines from all of the regions in Spain [and now also South America]. They work closely with winemakers to present wines of “regional authenticity, varietal character, as well as great value”. They spotlight clean expression of the fruit, and aim to produce everyday wines “that are enjoyable to drink with good balance and control of both tannins and alcohol”.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of grape jam, autumn woods and black pepper. Black cherry and slightly tart blackberry flavours harmonise with silky tannins, dried black fruits and pink peppercorn on the plush finish.

Syrah [I could not verify varietal percentage]
Castilla la Mancha
Spain
Bottled for Bodegas Abanico, S.L. by R.E. No. CLM 386/CU
13% Alcohol
$9
Enjoy now thru 2015