Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Merritt Olson Of CHARLES SMITH & K VINTNERS At Cleveland Park Wines/Tastes 7 " New " Wines Tues. Apr. 13th, '09 / My 1st Taste,

Merritt Olson of CHARLES SMITH wines and K VINTNERS ( charlessmithwines.com, www.kvintners.com Tel : 312 - 590- 3249 820 Mill Creek Road, Walla Walla, WA. 99362 ) came here with Arielle Monaco our Country Vintner rep. We tasted seven of these wines : three whites and four reds and I liked the stark black-and-white labels as well as a number of the wines. The Chardonnay CHARLES SMITH " Eve " was quite smooth and tasty all by itself and I enjoyed that it was un-oaked and quite smooth. I could sit outside on a nice day here in Cleveland Park and enjoy a couple of glasses no problem as life passed before and around me. It sells for $14.99 a bottle and that's quite reasonable.

I next tried the CHARLES SMITH Riesling 2008 " Kung Fu Girl ", $14.99 and found it to be a bit sweeter than I would have liked after the dry, bright, lighter Chardonnay. This is unfair , of course and I later suggested that I would have preferred to have tasted it at the end of the tasting : that it would have been better to try all the three whites after the four reds? It might have changed my whole impression of the wines. It was positive anyway.

The next wine poured for me was the 2007 K Columbia Valley dry white Viognier aged for awhile in neutral oak and again I was a bit put off by the dryness and the lack of fresh Viognier that I like. I must admit, too that I was helping customers during all of this and taking pictures and so a bit side-tracked. I did change my opinion later of the Viognier after retrying it after all the reds. I still wanted more freshness and brightness in it but I did like it better as it seemed to fill out more and show more richness and brightness of fruit and less wood or phenols as Merritt pointed out it was a
grape high in them.

The CHARLES SMITH Merlot " Velvet Devil ", $16.49 was next and is was very much like a fruit-forward velvet glove wrapped in the hands of a devil. I liked it : easy and pleasing to enjoy from the first sip with or without a meal. That's a really good thing for us as so many of our local customers here in Cleveland Park seem to like to enjoy a wine mostly on it's own as they relax and prepare the evening's meal.

The CHARLES SMITH " Chateau Smith " Cabernet Sauvignon ( also from the Columbia Valley ) 2006, $24.99 was a bit leaner and more restrained, less ready to drink and enjoy on it's own. Like a good French wine it needed to be lured out of it's lair and cajoled and spoken to nicely, softly, persuasively to get it to show more of itself. It definitely needed food : medium-to-light-bodied and with more acidity and spice. I , in fact liked it much more than the Merlot, but I would have to be drinking it with my meal to really sing it's full praises or really wax poetic over it.

The CHARLES SMITH " Boom Boom " Walla Walla Valley Syrah, 2006, $21.99 was perhaps my favorite wine I tasted here. I really liked it. It could have been a little cooler ( the temperature of the wine ) but otherwise I felt that it was a really well-balanced, focused example of a northern-Rhone style French Syrah made in Walla Walla. I liked it a whole lot and it shows me what some of the hoopla about Syrahs in Washington State is all about. I think it's an excellent food wine and I could see myself drinking a couple of glasses of it easily as I listened to music after dinner and let myself " zone-out " into other layers and states of thought/emotion and pure, raw, relaxed " being ".

Merritt Olson kept saying : " If you like the " Boom Boom " just wait until the last. The last being the K. VINTNERS " Cougar Hills " Syrah 2006, $59.99 a bottle. She poured me some and both she and Arielle watched me waiting for me to be bowled-over. I wasn't : sorry. It just was too big and too undefined : like a photo that is not completely focused , not yet quite the Kodak moment that I was waiting for. Oh well, that's okay. I liked it but found it rough and unformed as yet with too much warming alcohol. No, I could not taste the alcohol in an objectionable way exactly : it was not too hot this wine. However, the alcohol was masking some of the pureness of Syrah fruit there and waiting to show itself. Give the wine another 3-5 years and I bet I will be singing an entirely different tune. I can wait : I am willing to wait : I think all of us should wait longer for our wines to evolve at their own speed!

Going back and retrying the wines again after a pause was the best thing that I could have done. It cemented for me my impression that the wines will be fun to carry and sell at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 Tel : 202-363-4265 sales@clevelandparkwine.com www.clevelandparkwine.com ). People will like them pretty much as they are and not be nearly as critical and judgmental as I have been. They will also like the stories behind them as well as the black-and-white artwork. That's all good. We will be able to tell the story about Charles Smith and his love for music and women.

Arielle Monaco of Country Vintners will come in and do an in-store wine-tasting perhaps of only these wines. We will see. She will definitely include at least one red and one white. Stay-tuned for more on this.

Thanks Merritt and Arielle for such a fun, educational and interesting tasting. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Hope you both like the pictures. Cheers, TONY

Enjoy, TONY

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