It’s restrained, floral, and light of tannins. Intensely cherried, tobacco and chocolate-packed, with a base of ripe stewed tomatoes. You will notice very little oak, a hefty yogurt-covered raisin, sans the raisin, on the mid-palate, and pencil lead metallic all over the nose and palate.
Everything about this Cabernet is atypical—multidimensional and complex, but fleeting at the same time. Flashes of diverse aromas and flavors advance on the nose and tongue, but modify or fade quickly, so I find myself quickly digging memory banks in those ephemeral moments.
Charles Smith produces some of the most highly rated, small-lot, single vineyard Syrah in Washington state. 99 points and $140/bottle is commonplace for Charles multiple times in a given vintage.
Or, in the case of this wine, Chateau Smith, 90 points and $16.
There isn’t much middle ground in the Smith family of wines—artistic, entry-level, or meteoric cult sensations. Much like my favorite Australian winemaker, Chris Ringland. Enjoy a $20, 92-point Shiraz in a perfect expression of approachable, friendly, backyard barbecue Aussie winemaking, or set a 99-point toe-curler down in your cellar for the next 20 years if you have $350 and a week to track down a bottle.
While I truly appreciate this style of polar winemaking, I harbor quite an envy for the mailing list bunch. Not really; vino class warfare is not desirable or healthy. Besides, I believe Charles takes care in delivering wine, regardless of the price, that expresses the ground and climate it’s grown in—one that isn’t fogged by a heavy hand or scrubbed of character in favor of a banquet hall business model. A very solid splash.