Hello friends. Last week’s announcement that Constellation Brands has agreed to purchase the “core five” Charles Smith Wines (Kung Fu Girl, Eve, Boom Boom, Velvet Devil, Chateau Smith) has sent shockwaves through our local trade. The sale price – $120 million – is simply staggering, and has to be seen as a vote of confidence in Washington’s winemaking future.
Of course, those core five wines are not the only value plays Charles has up his sleeve. He recently purchased Wines of Substance, a clever brand based on the periodic table of elements that had hit a rough patch. He and Brennon Leighton have set about to rehab the label, and the flagship wine is “Cs” Cabernet Sauvignon. They relaunched Wines of Substance with the 2013 vintage of Cs, and after it received matching 90pt reviews from Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate, the wine disappeared. Now the sophomore vintage has arrived, with an even better review attached:
Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “($17); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”
This is indeed 100% Cab, and the backbone comes from Goose Ridge Vineyard. Here is how Charles’ team describes the site: With a first harvest in 1999, Goose Ridge’s 2,200 acre vineyard receives less than 8 inches of rainfall annually. It is a gently sloped, south-facing site adjacent to Red Mountain. Long, warm summer days and cool nights produce grapes noted for their ripe, rich character. South to North row orientation for maximum solar exposure, drip irrigation, managed crop loads, and canopy adjustments consistently yield fruit of exceptional character and complexity.
This really gets the luxury treatment too, especially for the price point: all native yeast fermented, 42 days on skins, 50% new French oak for a year. It clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and begins with a nose of blueberry and blackberry fruit and a lovely thread of pencil-lead minerality. The palate possesses this wonderful sense of leafiness, an excellent counterpoint to the rich Cabernet fruit. Medium-grained, green-tea-flavored tannins define an attractively rustic finish, and the overall package offers charm and personality to spare.
This would be a great winter house wine or party/wedding wine, so let’s open it up: first come first served up to 120 bottles, and the wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.