So I think it's time to get back to some wines that won't "break the bank."
Accordingly, I ran across a recent review of a wine from famed winemaker, Charles Smith. Sort of a maverick in the wine business, he is responsible for some great labels and wines that go with them. The most famous is K Vintners. His first wine was called K Syrah. An obvious ploy off of Que Sera Sera.
Over the years since beginning in 2001 in the Pacific Northwest, Charles Smith has continued his award-winning winery, expanding to other wineries such as Sixto, Casasmith, ViNO and then Substance. He was also responsible for iconic wines like Kung Fu Girl, Chateau Smith, Boom Boom Syrah and Velvet Devil Merlot, all of which he later sold off due to the continuing demand for those labels.
The wine I ran across comes from the aforementioned Substance Winery. A 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Columbia Valley in Washington that is whole berry fermented in 50% New French Oak barrels for 12 months. What brought me to this wine was an email I received telling me of a 93 Point Review from Wine Advocate. That along with a sub $15 price tag peaked my interest.
Since I like to think that I believe in and practice truth in advertising, I will point out that the actual review from Wine Advocate shows a rating of (90 - 93). Why the parentheses? Most of the time when you see parentheses it is telling you that the wine was sampled directly from a barrel before being bottled. It is a way that the reviewer can hedge their bet a little for the possible variance before the wine getting into that bottle.
I also did some checking with non-professional reviews. Those were not as, shall we say, friendly as Wine Advocate. None exceeding 89 Points. I like a challenge and I love Washington wines which I mentioned in my "Meet the Winemaker" about Sparkman Cellars. So I swooped to pick some up and give it a try.
Upon opening, I was greeted by a lovely aroma of blueberry and spice. That led to the first sip. Again, lovely dark rich fruit and good tannins leading to a lovely finish of slight earthiness and spice notes and a full-bodied mouthfeel. So why the disparity? Just like I've mentioned that the right environment can enhance an experience with wine, I think some people can be negatively influenced knowing the wine is of a potentially lower quality due to price.
Would I rate this wine 93 Points? Close. A solid 92, but who's quibbling? It is a wine that can be enjoyed, especially if you like a little more fruit versus earthiness to your wines. At $15 or under, I can recommend this as a great everyday wine to be enjoyed with a wide array of foods.
Kudos to Charles Smith and his gang for creating this wine. While I haven't had all of his offerings, I know that from those wines I've tried, they focus on quality at all levels. Keep on the lookout for his wines and give them a try. Click here for a tech sheet on the wine. Click here to order direct from the winery.