I've often blogged about frequent disconnections between pricing and demand or pricing and quality. This is one of those entries, but in a rather different way. Charles Smith aka K Vintners is one of the superstars of the New World winemaking scene. Indigenous yeasts, yields below 2 ton/acre, whole cluster fermentation, huge extraction, high pH...foot crushing for God's sake! His wines are the real deal, from their inexpensive line of Charles Smith wines to their top cuvees.
Royal City is the product of the best fruit of the Stoneridge vineyard in Walla Walla, only about 4 barrels are made. In the past four years, this fruit has received four 99 point ratings and one 98 from Robert Parker. Now, we can quibble all day about rating systems and Parker's palate, but any way you slice it, that's a solid fantastic track record.
Last week I tried a bottle of the 2006.
A brooding monster of blueberries, blackberries, chocolate, spices, pepper, and tar. The more I smell and taste, the more descriptors I get - black olive, petrol, bacon fat, black cherries... The tannins are round and ripe, but huge. They combine with the acid to form a structure that handles all this fruit and flavor and manages to find elegance and awesome length. Wow.