Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Tasting notes: 2015 K Vintners "The Boy" Grenache

This is a difficult review to write. For years I've stated that K Vintners is one of the three best wineries in Washington state (the others being Cayuse, and Barnard Griffin's white and rose wines only).  I called those three the "First Growths" of Washington.

But something has happened to K Vintners. We went to their Spring release party, and 80% of the wines weren't good to me. Who am I you ask, and it's a fair question. I'm a wine retailer and a commercial winemaker, and I've made wine for 23 years and grown grapes for longer than that. I've collected fine wines and resold them on the international market for over 40 years now. So I'm entitled to have an opinion.

Which brings us to this wine by Charles Smith. 95 points by Robert Parker, and 94 by Wine Enthusiast. Etc, etc. No doubt, Charles has reliably high reviews by the pros. Parker said:

"The 100% Grenache 2014 The Boy is a ripe, wild, peppery, meaty, rose petal and olive scented effort that has full-bodied richness, with a sensational, layered and silky texture, as well as ripe, polished tannin and a great finish. It's difficult to find a better Grenache from the New World."

Friends, I am here to tell you that, even with perfect cellaring, at four years old this wine is nowhere close to being worth $50. It has a good cherry nose, and it's rich and silky, but it's fleeting. The palate is meh. The finish is meh.  My spouse is a very tough critic on wines; she wouldn't drink this one. Wow. I gave it two days in the fridge, but it was no better, so I didn't rob the cradle with it. There is very little to commend it at this price point. Just another example of "experts" being wrong. 

Here is what you need to know: Every fiber of our imperfect mind wants to believe that a more-expensive wine is a better mind. But you need to retrain your instincts to rebel against such mistaken thinking. Italy and southern France and northern Spain and Argentina give us GREAT wines that cost from $9-$13. So why would you overpay $50 for this one? It is not ethereal. Yes, some expensive wines CAN be ethereal, and the search for them is worthwhile. But in general, any fool can overpay for wine--it is the easiest thing to do. What is very difficult is to find great wines at lower prices. That is what I've spent my years trying to master, with much success I think.

Now, understand: Charles is still a wine god to me. He can do amazing things with grapes. But I can no longer expect all his wines to be great. His Kung Fu Girl Riesling is one of the best lower-cost wines in the world. His higher-end Syrahs can be mesmerizing. But do not assume that all his wines are great. They are not. My suspicion is that once a winemaker achieves fame and fortune, it becomes exponentially more likely that their quality will slip. Just my opinion. 

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