2014 Wines of Substance Merlot Stoneridge Vineyard
by JJ Buckley Fine Wines
On Sale: $34.94 (was: $44.94)
“In the top tier of producers in Washington State, wild man Charles Smith fashions singular, exotic wines that never lack for richness or texture.” - Jeb Dunnuck
Charles Smith is a man who doesn’t like to sit still for long. This “larger-than-life” winemaker has dominated the growing Washington State wine scene for years now, and whether working with Bordeaux or Rhone varieties he seems to find that sweet spot that makes Washington wine so memorable.
This 94-point Wines of Substance Merlot comes from the spectacular Stoneridge Vineyard, and it is riding the wave of a renewed interest in Merlot thanks to its site-specific qualities and just plain delicious profile. Smith knows this site like the back of his hand since it supplies the fruit for his knockout ‘King Coal’ red, and with his increasing focus on Bordeaux grapes the Stoneridge Vineyard terroir is proving golden for this big but complex style of wine.
The 2014 Merlot easily reinforces Charles Smith’s reputation for making “flat-out incredible wines" (Wine Advocate). When Smith arrived in Walla Walla in the late 90s, there were about 17 wineries in the area. Today there are nearly 150, so it’s safe to say Smith both grew up with the WA wine industry, and helped build it himself.
His Stoneridge Vineyard Merlot captures the gravelly site with “plums, Asian spices, graphite and dried flower-like characteristics” (Wine Advocate), and it’s a gorgeously layered, crowd-pleasing example of Washington State’s best qualities.