Black Friday was heralded by countless commercials advertising the hottest trends and biggest sales, reminding us just how steeped in consumerism our country is. And in some cases, that’s okay. It’s America after all, and consumerism is what fuels our economy. But if there’s one thing many of us may not want to admit, it is how often packaging and appearance dictate what we buy. Let’s admit it, packaging sells products. And sometimes, it’s downright refreshing to purchase something that manages to deliver on both the inside and the outside. Just ask Washington winemaker Charles Smith. He has the same motto.
Anyone who has seen a bottle of Charles Smith Wine will already understand where this is going. Stylistically modern, eye-catching, bold and clean, each label of Smith wine speaks paradoxically of understatement and overstatement. Two-toned pop art might be an apt description for his bottle imagery and, while a label’s artwork should never be the sole factor upon which one chooses it, in this case, the art is noteworthy. Here’s why: Charles Smith believes in immediacy. It is his philosophy on wine and how the public wants to receive it that drives his method of winemaking. He knows the public is smart. He knows they understand good wine, and he knows that, in most cases, they want to drink it now. Right now.
Smith is a modern Renaissance man who believes deeply and passionately about craftsmanship, purity, individuality and beauty. And he’s genuinely excited about his region of choice, (he resides in and produces K Vintner wines out of Walla Walla, Washington, and his signature collection, Charles Smith, comes out of Columbia Valley).
Smith loves how Washington’s terroir shapes his wines. A good example is his Kung Fu Girl Riesling, an affordable and approachable single-vineyard wine displaying aromatic white flowers and lime zest on the nose; followed by a backbone of bright acidity, mineral, stone and green apple on the palate; and ending with a crisp, clean finish.
According to Smith, the chalky soil and long growing season of Columbia, as well as the cool air from Canada, are what allow his Riesling to develop the mineral, stone and high acidity like that of the ever-popular, spectacular Rieslings from Germany. The name was not only inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1, but also playfully suggests the type of food it pairs well with: spicy Asian. You can give it a swirl at Eola Wine Company for $8 a glass/$32 a bottle. Try it with a Eola's Buffalo chicken flatbread and you’ve got a combo racier and spicier than Uma Thurman in a yellow jumpsuit.
Overall, the dichotomy of Smith’s nature is what makes him so fascinating. This is perhaps most literally reflected in the black and white graphics of his rock-and-roll inspired labels, indicative of his past career as a rock band manager in Scandinavia. Fuzzy haired, decked out in a ubiquitous black band tee shirt, jeans and motorcycle boots, Smith epitomizes laid-back cool, something that is all too rare in the wine world. But he’s not getting by on appearances alone. What he puts into his bottles is just as good—if not better—than how he dresses them. Pop a bottle open today and find out for yourself.