Charles Smith, winemaker and Winesleuth hair twin
I met my hair twin the other night at Hawksmoor Steakhouse in London. We weren’t exactly hair twins, he’s blonde and I’m not but we both have wild and curly hair and we both like wine a lot! My hair twin in Charles Smith, ex-rock band manager and “2009 Food and Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year” for K Vintners of Washington State.
Charles has quite a reputation as a innovator, marketing genius, and is never afraid to speak his mind, his opinion of European wine drinkers – they’re “pussies” if they look at the back label see 15.5% alcohol and deem it too much for them without even trying it first. Luckily or unluckily, depending on how you look at it, I didn’t realize the alcohol content until late in the evening while chatting to Charles. His wines are extremely well balanced. I would never have guessed that they contained so much alcohol, no hint of a burn or alcohol on the nose, just full bodied wines with refined tannins. If you start reading ingredients on a wine label, then his wines are not for you in Charles’ opinion. He does acknowledge that his wines “are not for everybody, they never are, it’s all about the individual”. Charles picks the grapes when they are ready and not beforehand and if they have 15% alcohol so be it. He wants to produce wines that reflect not only the region but also the vineyard where they are grown. To him, the most important thing is to produce balanced, soft, round and integrated wines.
To drink his wines, you need food that’s going to stand up to it and Hawksmoor did an admirable job of serving up Porterhouse and Rib-eye steaks to match the wines. We had a selection of K Vintners wines, the 2008 Northridge Syrah from Wahluke Slope, the 2008 Morrison Lane Syrah, Walla Walla Valley and K Vintners 2008 Creator ( a blend of cabernet and syrah), Colombia Valley. Each wine was unique but they all shared the characteristics of refined, smooth tannins, an inherent softness in the core of the wine, very rich but full of brambly fruit and spices, fantastic with the cuts of steak we were served. We also had a variety of Hawksmoor sides, very generous portions creamed spinach, baked sweet potatoes (my favourite), the biggest bone marrows I’ve ever come across and their super crispy chips!
A great nite all round, entertaining company, scrumptious food, fantastic wines AND I got to meet my hair twin! Thanks to K Vintners, Hawksmoor Steakhouse and Bibendum Wines for inviting me to meet the wild man of Washington state wines.