2013 K Vintners "River Rock" Walla Walla Valley Syrah (Elsewhere $45)
Broad and open-textured, offering juicy, pear-accented blackberry, licorice and black tea flavors, finishing harmoniously and with pinpoint focus. Has presence and depth without great weight. Best from 2017 through 2023.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
A wine that just screams "The Rocks" is the 2013 Syrah River Rock Vineyard and it is about as classic a representation of this terrific terroir located around the town of Milton Freewater as I could imagine. Medium to full-bodied, fresh, focused and with fine, polished tannin, it has tons of pepper, bloody meats, olive and ripe dark fruits all soaring from the glass. I like it today, but it will keep for a decade. These latest releases from Charles Smith check in at the top of the pyramid and are flat out incredible wines that I wish every reader could taste. Readers should also check out the new label, Wines of Substance, which are also included in this report. Going forward, the K Vintners label will be for the Rhone inspired blends, and all Bordeaux blends will be moved to the Wines of Substance label. (JD)
Somewhat locked up at present, the aromas offer notes of brown stems, crushed flowers, dried earth and green olive, with the fruit lurking in the background. The palate mixes savory and red-fruit flavors that play off each other all the way through the finish, showing a lot of elegance and persistence.
(from a Phelps clone planted in 2001 in the Rocks District): Bright, dark red. Cherry, dried herbs and olive tapenade on the nose. Plush, fat and round, conveying a high-pH mouthfeel to its raspberry and saline flavors. Could use a bit more delineation but finishes with sweet tannins that will not get in the way of early pleasure. In the absence of Charles Smith, I sampled his extensive line-up of K Vintners wines in his airy new facility on the northern edge of Boeing Field in Seattle with Brennon Leighton, who makes wines under his own B. Leighton label and is co-winemaker with Smith on the Sixto wines. (Leighton works for Smith and is also a partner on several of their labels.) Leighton emphasized that all of Smith’s contracts for the K wines are by the acre, which is still the exception in Washington. Leighton noted that the 2013s are a bit coarser than the 2012s. Two thousand fourteen was an even warmer vintage, but Smith "made adjustments in the vineyards, leaving larger canopies and getting more shade on the fruit." This has long been a fascinating collection of wines encompassing a wide range of distinctive terroirs. (ST)
Praise for the producer from Wine Advocate: "As usual, this was a massive lineup by Washington's wild man, Charles Smith. Despite the larger-than-life persona, these wines are dead serious and are always some of the best I'm able to taste from the state. All of the Rhone varieties see 100% whole cluster, native fermentations and aging in mostly neutral French oak. At the top end, both the 2012 Royal City Syrah and 2012 Klein Syrah flirted with perfection, but the whole lineup is stacked with both quality and value." (JD, 06/2015)