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Not to Beat a Dead Horse: But Charles Smith

red devil Merlot

I mentioned it quite some time ago now, that our old friends at Charles Smith were not only expanding production, but also bringing on a new distribution team and that they were aiming to be the new version of Mondavi…..but there’s this, this week from

A taste test of Blind Devil Merlot (a Charles Smith wine) vs Rutherford Hill vs Toad Hollow, one of the largest production Sonoma names these days, said that the cheaper two options were interesting but that Rutherford Hill won the day.

There was a time in my house that this bottle of Rutherford Hill Merlot really did mean something along the lines of a fancy dinner at home.  Sure, we never paid anything close to the $28 that is suggested in the article, but I think you know what I mean.

It’s a fairly classic Merlot from Napa Valley and I’d guess that Red Devil at less than half the cost, is garnering many more sales.

Basically, great for Charles Smith….they’re distributed widely enough now that they ended up in a newspaper article in Cleveland about Merlot.  About 5 years ago, that simply wouldn’t have happened for any Washington wine. But, the long term question is if they can turn the folks buying that $12 wine and turning them into buyers of their $40+ wines that make up the great, long term hope for the winery. Since we shipped a K Vintners (their highest end bottles) in our first wine club shipment, I feel like I should mention this stuff as time goes on.

Yes, Charles Smith continues to increase his profile in the wider wine trade.  For Washington, it’s nothing but a good thing.

2 thoughts on “Not to Beat a Dead Horse: But Charles Smith

  1. The wine you are referring to is actually called “The Velvet Devil Merlot.” In the post you refer to it as both Blind Devil and Red Devil – which are close, but not quite right…. Not sure if you know or not, but these days Charles actually makes wines under 6 different labels now, with 6 unique foci – Charles Smith Wines (The Velvet Devil, Kung Fu Girl, etc.) are the ‘wines for the people’ – high quality, reasonably priced quaffers meant for everyday drinking; K Vintners – small production Rhone-varietal focused wines from specific vineyards across WA state – upwards of 40 different wines produced; Wines of Substance – Cabernet focused from two vineyards in central Columbia Valley and adding Wines of Super Substance with vineyard focused smaller production Bordeaux varietals; ViNO – quaffable, everyday drinking Italian varietals (PG, Rosé, Rosso, Moscato) from Columbia Valley and CASASMITH – the three single vineyard focused Barbera, Sangiovese and Primitivo wines from Wahluke Slope; finally SIXTO – Charles’ unbelievable Chardonnay project showcasing some of the best terroir and most delicious Chardonnays in the state of WA. Hopefully you will check out some of Charles’ new releases soon!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment and yes you’re 100% correct I took the easy way out on the name, in my defense I’ve heard a few winery staff just use the Devil moniker by itself for the wine, including folks on the production side of things. Next time I’ll try and be more consistent on that note.

      More important, at least I hope so, I’m probably most familiar with K Vintners since that fits what we do here most closely. I was in Walla Walla last summer and tasted through a pretty good group of what he makes these days. Casa Smith is especially interesting moving forward of the newer labels.

      Overall though, I do agree Charles Smith inspires a lot of confidence and is generally important for the future of the wine industry. I really do think they’re the closest of the Washington wineries to break through into the national wine discussion, partly due to increasing production and also due to the quality/price ratio being produced.

      Thanks again for the comment

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