K Vintners: Washington State Superstar

Charles Smith is a gifted winemaker, and his young vineyard, K Vintners, is producing brilliant wines

K Vintners is where the larger-than-life Charles Smith presides. He is an innovator, marketing genius, outspoken, you name it—but above all the man is a brilliant winemaker who knows where all the great fruit is hidden. In a region where blending is the rule of thumb, he is the ultimate terroirist. Each wine reflects the vineyard from which it was produced, but there is also a house style that lets you know immediately who made the wine. While it's much too soon to put K Vintners on the same level as a Domaine Leroy or Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, the experience you get tasting in the cellar is much the same as in those legendary wineries—brilliantly made wines reflecting the terroir but also having a distinct winemaking signature. My thanks to Jay Miller, my Washington State expert, for these reviews from this exceptionally exciting Washington State producer.

91 points

2005 Syrah Morrison Lane Walla Walla Valley

The purple-hued 2005 Syrah Morrison Lane reveals an excellent perfume of wood smoke, mineral, spice box, blueberry, and blackberry liqueur. The flavors are developing well but the wine is in need of more midpalate depth. Drink it over the next six to eight years. $45

91 points

2007 Viognier Columbia Valley

Fermented with native yeasts (as are all the K Vintner wines) in neutral oak, this light gold-colored Viognier offers up alluring aromas of mineral, peach, apricot, and tropical notes. On the palate there is excellent acidity, and the minerality of the wine becomes more apparent. Well-balanced and long, this is a wine to drink over the next one to two years with Pacific Northwest salmon. $20

92 points

2005 Syrah Cougar Hills Vineyard Walla Walla Valley

The 2005 Syrah Cougar Hills is restrained aromatically with an elegant personality. Concentrated, ripe, and round, the flavors are already exhibiting complexity, and the finish is very long. Allow for another three to four years in the cellar and drink it through 2020. $45

92 points

2005 Syrah Phil Lane Walla Walla Valley

The 2005 Syrah Phil Lane was sourced from a vineyard yielding 0.5 tons of fruit per acre. The nose offers up meat, game, bacon, spice box, pepper, and blueberry. It is just a bit lean on the palate and a bit restrained, but the texture is smooth, the flavors pleasing, and the finish long. $70

92 points

2005 The Boy Walla Walla Valley

A blend of 88% Grenache and 12% Syrah, this 2005 offers sensational aromas of kirsch liqueur, smoke, toast, black cherry, blueberry, and garrigue. On the palate, this Chåteauneuf du Pape look-alike delivers gobs of ripe fruit and layers of flavor but manages to remain elegant. This lengthy effort can be enjoyed now but should keep for a decade. The quality of Washington Grenache is clearly demonstrated by The Boy. $40

93 points

2005 Roma Walla Walla Valley

The 2005 Roma is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah. Aromas of blood sausage, bacon, black currants, and blackberries are followed by a layered yet elegant wine with great concentration and six to eight years of aging potential. It will be at its best from 2015 to 2030. $55

94 points

2005 El Jefe En Chamberlin Walla Walla Valley

Sourced from another Cayuse vineyard, this cuvée offers impressive aromas of smoked, black cherries, and blackberries. The wine is layered and complex with tons of flavor as well as a sense of elegance. This lengthy wine will be at its best from 2012 to 2020. $55

94 points

2005 Ovide En Cérise Walla Walla Valley

A combination of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah, the 2005 Ovide En Cérise offers up notes of fresh herbs, leather, and tobacco. It is a broad, mouth-coating effort with a long finish. $55

94 points

2005 Syrah The Deal Sundance Vineyard Wahluke Slope

This purple-colored Syrah exhibits a fragrant nose of mineral, scorched earth, game, espresso, blueberry, and blackberry. Opulent on the palate, rich, and full-flavored, gobs of spicy fruit lead to a lengthy, fruit-filled finish. Give this 2005 two to three years to evolve and drink it through 2018. $35

95 points

2005 Syrah The Beautiful Walla Walla Valley

This offering from the Cougar Hills Vineyard includes 5% Viognier, which gives the aromatics a serious lift. On the palate, the wine is round and rich, elegant yet powerful. Spice, game, and pepper accompany layered blue fruits into a lengthy finish. This is a wine for hedonists only. $50

95 points

2005 Syrah Wells Walla Walla Valley

The 2005 Syrah Wells is dark ruby-colored with an alluring bouquet of smoked meat, game, and camphor oil. Elegant yet opulent, the wine is already complex, the fruit ripe and sweet, and the finish long. This concentrated effort is a total crowd-pleaser. $50

96 points

2005 The Creator En Cérise Walla Walla Valley

The 2005 The Creator En Cérise is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Syrah. The wine is super-expressive aromatically with notes of pain grillé, pencil lead, blueberry, spice box, and black currant jam. Sweet and layered with all components in harmony, this opulent effort easily conceals enough tannin to support six to eight years of cellaring. It should be at its best from 2015 to 2030. $45

97 points

2003 Syrah The Hunter Walla Walla Valley

This 2003 is a full-bore, pedal-to-the-metal wine with a splendid perfume of pain grillé, pencil lead, blueberry, blackberry, and licorice. While structured—eight to 10 years of cellaring would be beneficial—the wine is already layered and rich. With ideal storage it should continue to provide pleasure through 2035. $100

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