Friday, March 5, 2021

"Wines of Substance 'CS"' Columbia Valley Cabernet

"Wines of Substance 'CS"' Washington Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

For easy every day drinking I picked up this label that Lyle and Terry introduced us to during our Virtual OTBN 2021 wine gathering the other night. Being an astute buyer with discriminating tastes and an eye for value, I followed Lyle's lead in picking up this new release. 

This is a high QPR overachieving Cabernet from producer Charles Smith who became known for his K Vintners portfolio of Washington State, Columbia Valley Syrahs. In 2017 he created the Wines of Substance brand to market and promote his Bordeaux varietal based wines, distinctive from the Syrah associated with K Vintners.

Charles Smith grew up outside of Sacramento, California, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, During nine years touring Europe managing rock bands and concert tours, living on the road wining and dining every night, he developed a passion for wine. 

Following his interest in wine, in 1999, he moved back to the US to the Pacific Northwest where he opened a wine shop on Bainbridge Island, just across Puget Sound from downtown Seattle. Traveling the Washington State wine country, he discovered the town of Walla Walla where he met a young Frenchman and winemaker who convinced him to focus on producing his own wines. Charles moved to Walla Walla and founded the K Syrah brand producing his inaugural release of 330 cases in 2001. 

Gaining a reputation for producing low priced good value wines, he sold the brand to Precept Brands in 2006 and pivoted to start his new namesake brand, Charles Smith Wines. He set out to produce varietal wines that represented their distinctive terroir but for drinking at early age upon release for instant gratification at good value. 

In 2008, the self-taught winemaker, and his K Vintners was recognized by Wine & Spirits magazine as one of the “Best New Wineries of the Last Ten Years, and as “Winery of the Year in their annual buying guide. In 2009 Food & Wine magazine awarded Charles “Winemaker of the Year and in 2010 Seattle Magazine recognized Charles as their “Winemaker of the Year.  

Charles Smith has grown his portfolio of wines across several brands and recently announced and launched 'House of Smith', as he has become the largest independent and winemaker-owned winery in Washington State. House of Smith includes the brands K Vintners, Substance, ViNO CasaSmith, SIXTO, B.Leighton, POPUP, and Golden West, offering wines of nearly every noble grape varietal. 

Like the approach and strategy of Jess Jackson that I chronicled recently about his Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay, Charles Smith and his brands, starting with his K Vintners wines, offer high volume yet terrific wines that more than over deliver at their price point, bringing quality affordable wine to a wide audience. 

Based in Walla Walla, House of Smith operates a tasting room downtown Walla Walla, one at K Vintners in a vintage farmhouse at the base of the Blue Mountains, and  Jet City Winery, an expansive, one-of-a-kind winery out of what was once a Dr. Pepper bottling plant in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle.

This relatively new brand offers low cost but quality wine of value for every day drinking including this (Wines of) Substance Cabernet Sauvignon. 

It was awarded 93 points by James Suckling, 91 points by Jeb Dunnuck and 90 points by Decanter.  It is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon with fruit sourced from five different Columbia Valley vineyards. 

Dark blackish garnet colored, medium full bodied, bold dark black berry and black currant fruits with notes of olive tapenade, cigar box, cedar, black tea and graphite pencil lead with hints of dark mocha chocolate. 

RM 88 points.