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What: Charles Smith Velvet Devil Merlot Washington 2013 $12

Where: Downtown Spirits, Sixth Avenue Wine Seller, Pete's Wine Shop (Eastlake), Ballard Market, Whole Foods Roosevelt, Central Market Shoreline

Why: Winemaker Charles Smith made a sizeable splash last year when he moved his production facility from Walla Walla to the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. Sure, the live performance by Mudhoney helped, but Smith’s new Jet City facility is noteworthy in its own right. At 32,000 square feet, it’s the second largest urban winery in North America.

Smith first made a name for himself with syrah at K Vintners before subsequently adding labels such as Sixto, Secco, ViNO, Wines of Substance, and Charles Smith Wines. Smith calls the latter his ‘Modernist Project,’ focusing on wines designed to be consumed in their youth.

The 2013 Charles Smith Velvet Devil Merlot Washington ($13) is a perfect place to start sampling Smith’s catalogue. It offers appealing aromas and flavors of herbs and blue fruit that show uncommon depth and balance for a wine at this price. For further exploration, Smith’s Jet City facility is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-6pm.

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