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Charles & Charles C2 Northridge Vineyard Malbec 2015

  • JS96
  • JD95
  • WE92
750ML / 14.8% ABV
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750ML / 14.8% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The inaugural release of our single-vineyard Malbec comes entirely from the Northridge Vineyard which is the highest elevation spot in the Wahluke Slope. We co-fermented a little Cabernet Sauvignon with the Malbec to add some complexity & structure, something that I have experimented with in Argentina over the years & loved the results of. The wine was fermented with native yeast, with limited punch downs & remained on the skins for 50 days. We aged the wine a full 24 months in barrel on its original lees in a mix of 1-3 year old medium toast French oak. We bottled the wine without fining or filtration, leaving the richness & intensity of the wine to speak for itself. With this reductive type of winemaking, when you pull the cork on this wine, it will be encountering oxygen for the first time since it was put in the fermenter late October 2015. This incredibly focused Malbec leads with oodles of black fruit & spice layered over a present yet supple structure & a lingering thread of barrel toast & mocha. The blend this year is 77% Malbec & 23% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Critical Acclaim

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JS 96
James Suckling
From the Northridge Vineyard, this has strong and dark stony notes, some bracken, sappy notes of wet concrete and bold, ripe black fruits such as blood plums and blackberries. The palate is saturated in ripe, dark berry fruits with a late sweep of toasty oak warmth. Really opulent and surrounded in ripe, succulent tannins. Malbec works in Washington. Here's the proof! Drink or hold.
JD 95
Jeb Dunnuck
Made at the K Vintners facility outside of Seattle, the 2015 Malbec / Cabernet Sauvignon checks in as 77% Malbec and 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, brought up in French oak. It’s a shockingly good Malbec and one of the top expressions of the variety I’ve tasted from Washington. Deep purple-colored with awesome notes of blackberries, smoked herbs, gravelly earth, and graphite, it’s full-bodied, concentrated, and powerful, yet still just glides over the palate. It’s a stunning wine and one of the few examples of the variety I’d put up with the best of Argentina.
WE 92
Wine Enthusiast
This wine comes from Northridge Vineyard, one of the state's premier vineyards. Blended with 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, vibrant aromas of ripe plum, licorice, dried herb and baking spice lead to full-bodied, well-balanced fruit flavors that carry on the finish. There's great enjoyment overall, and the tannic structure helps give a sense of gravitas.
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Charles & Charles

Charles & Charles

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Charles & Charles, Washington
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A collaboration founded in 2008 between Wine Enthusiast Magazine 2014 Winemaker of the year, Charles Smith (K Vintners, Charles Smith Wines) and Charles Bieler (Three Thieves, Bieler Père et Fils & Gotham Project). We make just five wines together. The Rosé, a Cabernet Sauvignon blend, a Merlot blend, a Chardonnay and a single vineyard Riesling.

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Columbia Valley

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A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon!

Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.

Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.

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Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originated in Bordeaux, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends. After being nearly wiped out by a devastating frost in 1956, it was never significantly replanted, although it continued to flourish under the name Côt in nearby Cahors. A French agronomist who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, brought Malbec to Argentina in 1868. But it did not gain its current reputation as the country's national grape until a surge in popularity in the late 20th century.

In the Glass

Malbec typically expresses deep flavors of blackberry, plum and licorice, appropriately backed by aromas of freshly turned earth and dense, chewy tannins. In warmer, New World regions, such as Mendoza, Malbec will be intensely ripe, and full of fruit and spice. From its homeland in Cahors, its rusticity shines; dusty notes and a beguiling bouquet of violets balance rich, black fruit.

Perfect Parings

Malbec’s rustic character begs for flavorful dishes, like spicy grilled sausages or the classic cassoulet of France’s Southwest. South American iterations are best enjoyed as they would be in Argentina: with a thick, juicy steak.

Sommelier Secret

If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet. With its combination of bold flavors and soft tannins, it will appeal to basically anyone who enjoys red wine. Malbec also wins bonus points for affordability, as even the most inexpensive examples are often quite good.

SOU928115_2015 Item# 523141