Charles Smith Wines Jet City

Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room, Jet City

I cannot believe it’s been almost a year since my husband and I visited Charles Smith Wines Jet City. The winery and tasting room, formerly a Dr. Pepper bottling plant, is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle with views of Boeing Field’s main runways and Mount Rainier.

Pulling up to the massive, black building with windows nearly two stories high was quite impressive. Even more impressive was the monstrosity of a front door that mirrored the colossal height of the windows. This state-of-the-art facility is the largest urban winery on the West Coast and a very cool place to do some wine tasting.

Human is 5’10″…Door is Ginormous

A little background…Charles Smith opened his first winery in 1999 in Walla Walla. With his convivial, avant-garde style, Charles continues to be a positive force in the wine industry. In Washington, Charles Smith is the largest independent producer, the largest winemaker-owned winery and third largest winery overall. Charles Smith has won numerous accolades, including “Best New Wineries of the Last Ten Years,” “Winery of the Year,” and “Winemaker of the Year” three times, most recently in 2014 by Wine Enthusiast.

Now back to Jet City…I tasted wines from the K Vintners and Sixto labels. K Vintners is the name of Charles Smith’s first winery, which had its inaugural release in 2001 with K Syrah. All of the wines under this label are picked by hand, foot-stomped, fermented using naturally occurring yeasts and basket pressed. The Sixto label is a chardonnay only label from Charles Smith and Brennon Leighton rejuvenating interest in Washington’s old chardonnay vines.  It is the sixth label that Charles has created.  I took home two bottles from my tasting, the Motor City Kitty Syrah (100% Syrah, Yakima Valley) and the Stoneridge Cabernet Sauvignon (100% Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley).

If you find yourself in Seattle, you should really check this place out. The tasting room is open Wednesday thru Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm and is located at 1136 S. Albro Place, Seattle WA 98109.

Share

Que Syrah Syrah

Syrah, “…the kind of guy who wears cowboy boots with a tuxedo. Rustic, manly, yet elegant….” A well put description from Karen McNeil in her book, The Wine Bible.

Syrah originated in France, specifically the Rhone region. In Northern Rhone (where the only red grape allowed is Syrah), it shows itself as an elegant and savory wine. In Southern Rhone, it is used in blends, especially with Grenache and Mourvèdre, often referred to as the popular blend “GSM” (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvédre).  Washington Syrah tends to lean more toward the style of Northern Rhone while Australia and California Syrah is often velvety with more jam and spice characteristics. In case you’re wondering, Shiraz from Australia and South Africa is in fact, Syrah, it was just renamed when it landed in those countries. Syrah is grown in many other countries such as Argentina, Spain and Chile to name a few.

Syrah is inky dark and comes with a good hit of tannin (that bitter/astringent feeling on the front of your gums and on your tongue) especially when bottled on it’s own. Any way you slice it, Syrah is showy and full bodied with fruit forward flavors of blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, and plum rounding out with leather, tar, tobacco, smoke, smoked meat, spice and chocolate (to name a few).

It is important to note that California Petite Sirah, which has similar characteristics, is not the same as Syrah. There are a few theories but, in my opinion, the most legitimate explanation is that Petite Sirah is actually Durif, a cross of Syrah and Peloursin (both grapes from the Rhone region in France).

By the way, if you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day gift, I would like to point out that Syrah (and Australian Shiraz in particular) has the ability to pair quite well with dark chocolate.

Share

Pairing Wine And Food

pairingwineandfood

A friend requested I write about pairing wine and food. I was somewhat hesitant because I felt the post would either become a dissertation or be so short it would barely clear a paragraph.

There are many avenues to take for pairing, from mandatory adherence to a strict set of rules to “Vinotyping” and taste bud count affecting how a person tastes (i.e. Why You Like The Wines You Like by Tim Hanni, MW).  I lean more towards the the later.  In my opinion, there is only one thing you need to know: drink what you like, like what you drink.  Choose a wine you enjoy and desire to drink with whatever it is you’re eating.  Conceding to pairing the alleged “appropriate” wine with food will not make the pairing better if it’s not speaking to you in the first place. It will however, make for an unpleasant dining experience.

Taste is personal but I believe there are parameters we generally share. Most people establish some level of tolerance for acidity and most people like sweet food. There are even a small percentage of people who cultivate a liking to bitterness. Accordingly, consider the following basic guidelines; use them as a starting off point then follow your own personal palate preferences:

BASIC WINE AND FOOD PAIRING GUIDELINES:

Intensity: match intensity of wine and food (i.e. light wine-light food, heavy food-heavy wine)

Spicy food: pair spicy food with high acid, off dry, medium-sweet wine – try brut Rosé, Albarino, Riesling, or fight fire with fire and pair with a high alcohol spicy wine like Syrah or Zinfandel

Fatty food: pair fatty food with a high acid wine like an Vinho Verde, unoaked Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, or a tannic red like Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon or Tempranillo

Salty food: pair salty food with a high acid wine or wine with a bit of sweetness – try something sparkling like Champagne, a crisp Falanghina or a tawny port (think pretzels dipped in caramel)

Sweet food: pair sweet food with wine that has a high level of sweetness or fruitiness – try a late harvest wine, Ice wine, Moscato d’Asti, which has a slight effervescence, or for something fruity try a newer vintage Shiraz or Petite Sirah, these will probably be best for those dark chocolate pairings.

My ultimate advice is to acknowledge and embrace your individual tasting preferences. If you want Chardonnay with your steak and your friend prefers Cabernet Sauvignon…congratulations, you have both nailed your pairing!

~Drink what you like, like what you drink!~

Share

A Surfer’s Wine

I have some good news!  I have found a really good wine that does not taste like it was made for every wine drinker on the planet.  You may think that is NOT good news, but I say it is.  After living in Italy for 3 years, I came home to America to find most of the “everyday drinking” wines tasting the same – all geared toward ease of drinking but lacking in complexity and finish.  But alas, I have stumbled on a really great everyday wine that has some depth to it.

I was happy to see a new wine store in my town called Wine Styles. They carry many reasonably priced bottles of wine, have a monthly wine club and offer special events like tastings, pairings, etc.  It was about day 3 of being in town that my husband and I walked into this store to purchase some wine (afterall, a hotel room with no wine is not really a hotel room at all).  I was signing us up for the wine club, and my husband started talking with one of the employees.  Turns out, the employee was professional surfer, Kyle Knox, who just happens to have a passion for wine.  So much so, in fact, that he teamed up with Hill Family Estate to make his signature “Barrel Blend” wine (the pun is intended).

I bought a bottle to try and was very impressed.  Gone was the overly fruit forward taste that had drained me of all hope in finding reasonably priced, reasonably complex California wine.  This wine is really good.   It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  Sounds enticing doesn’t it – a great blending of varietals.  This wine is all about balance.  Hill Family Estate winemaker Alison Doran puts it best:  “The nose has a great ‘wow’ factor – unmistakably Napa in its elegance, but with an earthy blackberry and vanilla appeal that really makes you want to take a sip. And the palate is lovely, balanced, seductive and interesting, with plushy berry fruit and vanilla scented oak playing backup on tannins.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I also tasted plum.  Whatever the case, this wine will be coming home with me often.  I may not drink it literally everyday (retails for about $20 a bottle) but as often as I crave a balanced, interesting wine.

*tasting note source:  http://business.transworld.net
Share