A Rocking Release from Winemaking Supergroup Charles and Charles
Most supergroups will gouge you with ticket prices, but this one delivers the year's best value wine yet.
The music world has its fair share of supergroups. Think Asia in the '80s, Velvet Revolver in the naughts. Washington wine also has its own supergroup, consisting of two guys named Charles who want to bring good wine to the masses. And their current lineup includes the best value I've had from the state this year.
Charles and Charles brings together winemakers Charles Smith and Charles Bieler. Smith looks the part of a rockstar with his unruly mane of curly hair, but he actually spent nearly a decade managing rock bands and concert tours in Europe before turning his attention to Washington wine in the late 1990s.
Since then, Smith has been a force of nature, making a name for himself (and Washington) with his K Vintners and Charles Smith Wines. K focuses on crafting a wide variety of small-lot, single-vineyard syrahs. Charles Smith Wines are meant to be consumed upon release, hence the tagline—‘It’s just wine, drink it.’ Both brands—immediately recognizable by their black and white labels—have been astronomically successful, with Smith having a long list of high-scoring wines next to his name.
New York City-based Bieler meanwhile fits neatly into the rocker mold, looking something like a cross between Bon Jovi and Mick Jagger (okay, that pink hat helps). Bieler cut his wine teeth at Château Routas in France’s Provence region. He once drove a pink Cadillac across the U.S. promoting Routas’s rosé. Bieler continues to promote pink wine with his Bieler Père et Fils brand. Never one to be pinned down though, he is also involved in Three Thieves wines, a keg wine project called the Gotham Project, and Somba, an Oaxacan mezcal.
So when Smith and Bieler teamed up to start Charles and Charles, the results couldn't help but be interesting. The Charleses currently make three wines, a chardonnay, a rosé, and a red blend. The chardonnay brings everything there is to like about the variety with notes of apple and pear. (Is it a coincidence that the label looks like it could be an album cover?) The rosé meanwhile is a perfect patio wine, refreshing with notes of strawberry and watermelon.
However, the real star of the current lineup is the 2012 Post No. 35 Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. These two varieties can sometimes make for an unhappy marriage. But here, the strength of Washington’s 2012 vintage shines with generous, flavorful notes of huckleberry and smoke. It goes down far too easy and is an absolute steal at this price—the best value I’ve seen all year.
And that is one of the best parts of the Charles and Charles show. Whereas most supergroups gouge you on ticket prices, each of the Charles and Charles wines comes in at a budget-friendly $12.
Charles and Charles Post No. 35 Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah Columbia Valley 2012 $12
This wine goes down far too easily with generously flavored notes of huckleberry, black currant, and smoke matched with a broad, supple feel. An outrageous value.
Charles and Charles Rosé Columbia Valley 2013 $12
A broad, layered wine with abundant notes of strawberry, herbs, and watermelon.
Charles and Charles Chardonnay Washington State 2012 $12
A crowd pleaser with notes of apple and pear with just a kiss of oak (20% new) adding some spice to the cabinet.