The Velvet Devil

Velvet Devil

The Velvet Devil 2014

Quick what was the name of that great French wine you drank last week? AH! Next question, what wine has funny names, and funky black and white labels? If you said Charles Smith, marketing and advertising executives are cheering all over the world. Extra credit question, what’s your favorite Charles Smith wine? If you said any, I bet it was KungFu Girl, or simply Charles Smith Cabernet Sauvignon, but it you drew a blank, then you can see the limits of even great marketing.


Located in Washington State is Charles Smith, rock band manager and promoter-turned-winemaker who has become a rock star in the wine world as well. His brands include K Vintners, $35 to $50, Charles Smith Wines $12 to $20, Charles & Charles–a collaboration between Charles Bieler a New York wine importer and Smith rose wines–and Secco Bubbles, a project of Smith’s wife and two sisters.


I’ve come to both enjoy and admire Smith and his wines. My first experience was with his Cabernet, which was good, but not  great. My next adventure was with Kung Fu Girl, and I am now realizing that sounded a lot better in my head. Kung Fu Girl is a Riesling, and it’s become my go-to wine whenever Jo and I have Chinese take out food at home.  It’s really good, affordable, and possibly the largest single vineyard bottling anywhere–130,000 cases to be precise–and it was still a top 100 bottle on Wine Spectator’s 2013 list.


So, when I saw the Velvet Devil Merlot, I wanted to try it. I’d like to say the Devil made me do it but I can’t, I walked right up and purchased it all on my own. Well, we all know what happens when you mess with the Devil, you lose your soul. And that’s my complaint with this wine: it’s got no soul.


The wine had a nice purple color and poured like it’s name suggested; velvety. Try as I might I couldn’t get more than a hint of nose, and what I got  was so faint I can’t describe it.  At the first taste, well, it wasn’t bad but that’s not why I drink wine. Words ran through my head like “watery” and “thin,” but the bottom line for me was the wine didn’t tell a story. This wasn’t Charles Smith, this wasn’t Washington State, this wasn’t Merlot.


Disappointed I finished the bottle and moved on.  I don’t like writing negative reviews–I think this is only my second one–and come to think of it the other was about a Merlot too. Maybe Miles Raymond from Sideways is on to something.

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