Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Deep ruby color; dark fruits on the nose; black cherry, plum, some blackcurrant tang, blueberry on the palate.

Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Dry; decadently savory deep, dark fruits abound and flirt with jammy; fine tannins; 96% cabernet sauvignon, 4% merlot. The juice spend 10 months on the lees in 40% new French oak, but the monster fruit from a hot vintage just rolls past the oak almost without breaking stride, leaving mocha and a faint taste of vanilla in the fruit-storm wake.

Medium-full body, adequate acidity given all the power present here. Impressively, Smith holds the alcohol to 13.5%, which is reason this all works. Fruit flavors do not get burned away by the alcohol.

Winemaker Charles Smith is a self-taught wine wunderkind. He started K vintners to make Charles Smith Wines in 2006 with the goal of creating wines that would be enjoyed now, soon after release, and also were true to the varietal grape and the vineyard, and particularly targeted to millennials in its marketing and flavor profiles.

Wine & Spirits named Smith’s K Vintners “Best New Wineries of the Last Ten Years” in 2008 and as “Winery of the Year.” Food & Wine named Smith “Winemaker of the Year” in 2009. Seattle Magazine named Smith “Winemaker of the Year” in 2010. Wine Enthusiast named Smith “Winemaker of the Year” in 2014. Whew. That is a lot of big-time baubles early and quickly in a career. In late 2016, Smith cashed in by selling his brands to Constellation Brands, world’s largest winemaker, for $120 million. Smith remains as a consultant to the brand and retained ownership of K Vintners.

In addition to Charles Smith Wines, other Smith-founded brands include Sixto, Charles & Charles, Vino, Wines of Substance, Secco Italian Bubbles, and Casasmith. Google K Vintners for link to a neat opening video with Charles Smith laying out his mission.

Three tasting rooms demonstrate Smith’s Washington embrace: Charles Smith Wines Jet City is located next to main runway of Boeing Field in Seattle, Downtown Walla Walla is located in converted auto-repair warehouse and invites sidewalk seating in Walla Walla, K Vintners Tasting Room is located at the base of the Blue Mountains on historic farmland homesteaded in 1853 and adjacent to a farmhouse built in 1872.

Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is how Washington State can make monster reds with massive fruits—but delightfully holds back the oak monster and alcohol assault. Like most such big reds, benefits from decanting. While it will pair with red meats, its true métier is as a solo sipper with friends, maybe there’s a cheese tray and some wine crackers. No reason to mess up all this cascade of delicious super-ripe fruit and well-behaved tannin with food, especially since the wine likely will overwhelm the dish. Heck, this wine is so big and deliciously fruity, it is a meal all in itself. $20

Charles Smith website

Winemaker Charles Smith

Charles Smith Wines winery