CasaSmith Porcospino Primitivo 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
In 1999, he moved back to the United States, specifically to the Pacific Northwest, opening a wine shop on Bainbridge Island, just across the Puget Sound from downtown Seattle. On a road trip in late 1999, he passed through the small town of Walla Walla and met a young Frenchman and winemaker. The two men discovered their common passion for great Syrah and Charles was eventually convinced to move to Walla Walla and make his own juice. On December 2nd, 2001, Charles released his first wine, 330 cases of the 1999 K Syrah. The Walla Walla Valley was now his home.
After a devastating freeze in 2004, Charles brought to life a label he had once in a dream: HOUSE WINES. Low and behold, the label concept had never been created or trademarked, so Charles launched the legendary brand before selling it to Precept Brands in 2006. That same year, Charles started a second brand, Charles Smith Wines. The brand was themed as “The Modernist Project,” which focuses on the way people generally consume wine today: immediately. As the collection grew in popularity, Charles wanted to provide even more people around the globe access to the exceptional wines, so he sold the collection of five wines —Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Eve Chardonnay, Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon, The Velvet Devil Merlot and Boom Boom! Syrah—to Constellation Brands in October 2016 in order to bring them to consumers around the world through their global distribution network. The intent was (and still is) to create wines to be enjoyed now, but with true typicity of both the varietal and the vineyard. His story continued with the creation of Charles & Charles, CasaSmith ViNO, SIXTO, and Substance. The constant innovator and his restless nature ensure that the story doesn’t end there.
In 2015, the Charles Smith footprint broadened to Seattle with the opening of Jet City, the largest urban winery on the west coast, that has attracted tens of thousands of visitors since its debut.
In 2017, he unveiled a new name for his international company and vast portfolio – Wines of Substance, which is defined as the quality of being important, valid and significant. Wines of Substance illustrates Charles’ philosophy of producing exceptional wines to be enjoyed by everyone around the globe.
Charles Smith is the only person to have received Winemaker of the Year distinctions by both Wine Enthusiast (2014) and Food & Wine (2009). In 2008, 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. His wines continue to receive broad recognition from leading wine publications such as Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine & Spirits with 98 scores of 95 points and above, and 386 scores of 90 points and above.
Charles currently resides in Walla Walla and Seattle with his daughter, Charlotte.
Distinguished by a broad, south-exposed, uniform slope and landlocked by the Columbia River to its south and Saddle Mountains to its north, the Wahluke Slope AVA of Washington holds 15% of the total vine acreage of the state and takes its name from the Native American word for “watering place.”
Incidentally the Wahluke Slope AVA has one of the hottest and driest climates of the state so irrigation is not only essential, but also allows complete grower control of vine vigor. On top of its arid and warm environment, strong summer winds blow across this broad slope and ensure both smaller leaf size and grape clusters. The result is top quality wines with great concentration, phenolic ripeness, body and depth of flavor.
Vineyards cover the AVA from 425 to 1,480 feet along the slope. Its deep soils of wind-blown alluvium and sand with a depth, on average, of more than 5 feet along the continuous grade allow optimal drainage for the vines.
Merlots are rich in sweet, ripe cherry, red currant, raspberry and cocoa. Syrahs tend to express black and blue fruit along with savory notes. Wahluke Cabernets are rich in stewed red and black berries.
Responsible for inky, brambly, and ripe fruit driven wines, Primitivo bears more than a passing resemblance to Zinfandel—and there’s a very good reason for this. The two varieties are actually one and the same and have a Croatian origin. Primitivo was brought to Italy from Croatia in the late 1800s and became an important variety in the hot, dry, southern region of Puglia. Here it was named from the Latin word, primativus, meaning "first to ripen."
In the Glass
The flavors of Primitivo are, naturally, very similar to those of Zinfandel, but often it is somewhat leaner, and more structured and earthy. Typical characteristics include ripe berry fruit, plum, black pepper, fresh earth and sweet baking spice.
Primitivo pairs best with full-flavored, hearty meat dishes like roasted lamb, beef brisket, hamburgers, meatballs with Moroccan seasonings, beef fajitas or anything barbecued.
The link between Primitivo and Zinfandel is quite a recent discovery. While there was some speculation that they were related, it wasn't until 1994 when grape geneticists at UC Davis identified them as identical. The grape goes by the name of Tribidrag in Croatia and is a parent of the modern Croatian variety, Plavac Mali.