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Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2011

Riesling from Columbia Valley, Washington
  • RP90
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Winemaker Notes

Super Kung Fu Girl! More depth and complexity than ever. Apricot, kumquat, nectarine and lime leaves. A great mid-palate intensity with a long, long minerally finish. This is one for the books....THE BOOK OF KUNG FU!

Critical Acclaim

RP 90
The Wine Advocate

From among the multitude of inexpensive Charles Smith wines he showed me only his 2011 Riesling Kung Fu Girl and I simply could not find time to explore that range further. Despite its near ubiquity in U.S. markets, I had not tasted any previous installment of this Smith hit – generically-labeled, but in fact sourced entirely from 25-year-old vines in caliche- and basalt-ridden Evergreen Vineyard, 1,300 feet above sea level and overlooking the Columbia in the Ancient Lakes region (north of the Frenchman Hills Royal Slope). To say that I was pleasantly surprised would be rank understatement. I was disarmed, delighted, and amazed at the distinctively delicious performance this wine gives, not to mention its mind-boggling value. Almost as incredible is this wine’s production volume of 65,000 cases (So I’ll assume, notwithstanding Smith's explication of mega-assemblage, that not all bottles or releases of Kung Fu Girl taste identical; that said, I did control for – and confirmed – my enthusiastic opinion with a second bottle of 2011 from a different market.) Delectable scents of basswood (Germans would say "linden flower") mingle with honeydew melon, white peach, and lime that go on to render the palate sorbet-like in its combination of succulent richness and sheer cooling refreshment. The balance of acidity and sweetness (from 18 grams of residual sugar) is perfectly judged to support the aforementioned impression and – with the help of a lick of salt, mineral dust, and citrus zests – advances an invigorating, ultra-luscious and lip-smackingly lingering finish. Whether you need to drink this up over the next 12-18 months I can’t say from experience but I very much doubt it. (Not that cellaring will be on many purchasers' minds.) Smith says his sensibility for Riesling was honed on the Mittelrhein in the 1990s – that being the source nearest his then base of Copenhagen – and he certainly took-away some serious artisanal capital! Sounding a theme familiar from the Old World as well, he credits extreme diurnal temperature swings in the vineyard with this wine’s strikingly successful balance and overall quality. If you are interested in the future of Riesling; Washington State wine; wine value; or wine for the masses, this represents a huge glass of Hope you can drain with a grin to Charles Smith's health.

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Charles Smith

Charles Smith

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Charles Smith, , Washington
Charles Smith
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.

California

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Responsible for the vast majority of American wine production...

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Responsible for the vast majority of American wine production, if California were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine-producing nation. The state’s diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredibly wide-ranging selection of wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. Wineries range from boutique to massive corporations, and price and quality are equally varied—plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Coast area, while Napa is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.

Just about every style of wine you can imagine is made in California, from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. Each AVA and sub-AVA has its own distinct personality. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other Bordeaux varieties dominate, as well as Sauvignon Blanc. Sonoma County is best known for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with Alsatian varieties such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California has to offer, it is certain that any wine lover will find something to get excited about.

Cabernet Sauvignon

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A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration...

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A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes referred to as the “king” of red grapes. It can be somewhat unapproachable early in its youth but has the potential to age beautifully, with the ability to last fifty years or more at its best. Small berries and tough skins provide its trademark firm tannic grip, while high acidity helps to keep the wine fresh for decades. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in temperate climates like Bordeaux's Medoc region (and in St-Emillion and Pomerol, where it plays a supporting role to Merlot). The top Médoc producers use Cabernet Sauvignon for their wine’s backbone, blending it with Merlot and smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot. On its own, Cabernet Sauvignon has enjoyed great success throughout the world, particularly in the Napa Valley, and is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and sought-after “cult” wines.

In the Glass

High in color, tannin, and extract, Cabernet Sauvignon expresses notes of blackberry, cassis, plum, currant, spice, and tobacco. In Bordeaux and elsewhere in the Old World you'll find the more earthy, tannic side of Cabernet, where it's typically blended to soften tannins and add complexity. In warmer regions like California and Australia, you can typically expect more ripe fruit flavors upfront.

Perfect Pairings

Cabernet Sauvignon is right at home with rich, intense meat dishes—beef, lamb, and venison, in particular—where its opulent fruit and decisive tannins make an equal match to the dense protein of the meat. With a mature Cabernet, opt for tender, slow-cooked meat dishes.

Sommelier Secrets

Despite the modern importance and ubiquity of Cabernet Sauvignon, it is actually a relatively young variety. In 1997, DNA revealed the grape to be a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which took place in 17th century southwestern France.

YNG703421_2011 Item# 116492

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