Wine on Wednesdays – Charles and Charles Red Wine

I bought this bottle of Charles and Charles Red Wine because the label intrigued me and because I’m running out of affordable wines I haven’t tasted at the wine shop I visit.

The label features a blurry photograph of two men standing in front of a building that appears to be painted like the American flag. Okay, I thought. That’s a little edgy. I’ll give it a try.

When a wine is labled as simply a “red wine”, it offers no information about the types of grapes that it was made with. So I really was tasting this wine completely bliind.

Charles and Charles Red Wine was a revelation. It was smooth and berry, not at all in your face as I might have expected from the artsy label. It had a little alcohol kick to it for the first couple of sips, but this went away quickly.

I liked that it was balanced between tartness and smoothness. In other words, it wasn’t so tannic that it puckered my eyeballs, but it had enough of a charge to it that it could stand up to bold-flavored foods. I served it with pizza and it was perfect.

As it turns out, this wine is the work of two renowned Washington State winemakers — 2009 Food & Wine magazine Winemaker of the Year Charles Smith and Charles Bieler, of Three Thieves, BIELER Pere et Fils, and Sombra mezcal.

I had no idea this wine came from the Pacific Northwest, which is not known for its reds but is quite well known for its white wines. It is made with 51% Syrah grapes and 49% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, all of which were grown onthe Wahluke Slope AVA in the Washington’s Columbia Valley, a very-well known wine district.

Here’s how meticulous these guys are: The cabernet was raised in 1 to 3 year old French oak barrels and the syrah was fermented and aged in stainless steel.

Despite all that talent and craftsmanship, this wine still sold for less than $10/bottle. I’ve lost my receipt, but I believe I paid $8.99 before the 15% discount I got for buying a mixed case at a time, so the final price would have been $7.64.

That’s a steal for a wine of this quality. Charles and Charles have only been making wines together since 2008, so that may explain why the wine remains so affordable. I predict that once people begin discovering this wine, the price will go way up.

Incidentally, the buillding on the label is the American Legion Post 35 in downtown Waitsburg, Washington, which Charles Smith bought and painted as part of a conceptual art peice. How cool is that? Here’s a short video in which he talks about the work:

Smith, who is one of the most well-known winemakers in Washington, is known for his idiosyncratic wines and quirky labels. As it turns out, I’ve already reviewed (and enjoyed) one of his wines a few months back, the House Red.

I love it when I discover something wonderful by accident. Although I’ve warned before that buying a wine based solely on its label is a bad idea, in this case I’m glad I didn’t follow my own advice.



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