Charles Smith Royal City Syrah 2009
Syrah/Shiraz from Columbia Valley, Washington
"Man this is it! Wow! You name it, it's got it. Hickory, black cherry, Venezuelan chocolate, pie crust, camphor, beeswax and suede. It is complex. It is elegant. It is Royal City." - Charles Smith
Wine Spectator - "Supple, rich and complex, this is a towering, majestic wine layered with floral, mineral and exotic spice character around a core of meaty black cherry, licorice and maple flavors. It all comes together seamlessly on the long, expressive finish. Drink now through 2020."
The Wine Advocate - "Representing the fourth installment of a wine designed to showcase what he treats as his Cinderella vineyard (though it's not actually his), with whose Syrah vines as he puts it "we hit it out of the ballpark already with the first vintage," Smith's 2009 Syrah Stoneridge Vineyard Royal City combines amazing density of sappy cassis, cherry concentrate, bitter huckleberry, licorice and road tar with vibratory impingement of brown spices, citrus rind, brined anchovy, and some je ne sais quoi that, as with numerous other Washington behemoths, it manages to pull from an environmental stock of energy. All of that said, you'll have to really like the particular flavors on exhibit here to want to imbibe them at this level of near-overwhelming concentration; overnight the only change I noted was the emergence of a faintly caramelized and rancid note from oak; and whether the strong tannins that lurk beneath this wine's sweet, viscous, tarry surface will remain well-blanketed as it evolves in bottle only time can tell. (I'll hope to taste one of the four previous vintages of Royal City next year, but even so, wine built to this scale must count as very young still at only age six or less.) Naturally it hasn't escaped me that most of my fellow critics have praised these Royal City wines as if they represented the proverbial Shining City on the Hill of Syrah, and some friends I especially respect have written eloquently of their virtues. I guess I have to part ways with them in the degree of excitement I find myself able to muster for an, as yet at least, rather amorphous syrup of Syrah, even one so startlingly shot through with virtual lightning bolts of energy. But, as already suggested, I'll hope to find out what precipitates from this big, dark vinous storm cloud over the years. "
Charles Smith Winery
First there was K Vintners, then the Magnificent Wine Company and now winemaker Charles Smith brings you his latest revelation. Charles Smith Wines: The Modernist Project is a response to how people generally consume wine today, that is immediately…as in immediately after being purchased at a market, restaurant or bar, to be drunk straight away. Wine in this category is typically either simple, or is a wine that would be much better a few years down the road. 'Modernist Project' wines are about putting as much into the bottle as possible. The intent is to create wines to be enjoyed now, but with typicity with regards to variety—that is merlot that tastes like merlot—and to the vineyard—wine that tastes like where it was grown. The wines are full of flavor, balanced, and true to their place of origin. View all Charles Smith Wines
About Columbia ValleyView a map of Columbia Valley wineries
Columbia Valley is the largest of Washington State's wine growing regions, with almost 11 million acres. It encompasses a number of smaller regions, including Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, Red Mountain and more. The vast area consists of a range of climates, allowing viticulturists to plant a diverse selection of grape varieties. Most wineries plant rows sparsely, which helps the vines survive the harsh winters.
Notable FactsMerlot is the most popular and most planted grape of the area, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Syrah and Riesling are also popular and continue to grow in acreage.
About WashingtonRelated Links:Now the number two producer in the United States, Washington State has also grown in quality.
So how does a state known for rain and coffee produce high quality wines? They plant their grapes on the east side of the Cascade mountains, away from that ever-present rain cloud that sits along the coast. Perhaps wine grapes do well since the sandy loam soils east of the Cascade range give way to an almost desert-like land, saved from drought only by the helpful rivers that run through the area – and the good irrigation systems.
Thinking that the state would do best with typical northern growing grapes like Riesling and Gewurtztraminer, turns out the apple state is well-suited for reds, namely Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and, more recently, Syrah. Of course, whites have not been forgotten - Washington State Rieslings range from bone-dry to sweet, are well-structured and high quality, and Chardonnay dominates most of the other white plantings, making a range of wines. But the reds of the region, Merlot in particular, have made Washington State a quality force to be reckoned with.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.