Chcharles2arles & Charles is a collaboration between Charles Smith (of his namesake winery and K Vintners) and Charles Bieler.  Smith is a former rock band manager and while on the road developed a particularly good sense for rockstar wines.   A self-taught winemaker, Smith’s wines have garnered a lot of media attention and furrowed brows by other wineries that can’t produce value wines as enticing as Smithicized wines.  This 2013 Chardonnay was sourced from five vineyards across the Columbia Valley AVA including two in the Wahluke Slope, two in the Yakima Valley, and another in the Columbia Basin.   The winemakers describe this wine as dominated by quince, apples and caramel.   Hmmm, not sure that does it justice.

At $8.79, you get a really good chardonnay; perhaps even absurdly good.  Lifted by a hint of pineapple and coconut and rounded out with a solidly silky finish this is a heckuva good wine.   It avoids the oak-overload that plagues some California chards with about 22% barrel fermentation and aging to help round out its bright and fresh acidity. It is a nicely balanced wine with just the right amount of fruit and acid graced by a lovely mouthfeel and long finish.  I sampled it over two days with poultry, vegetables and guacamole.   They all paired wonderfully.  An added plus:  it tastes great even without food.   This wine generally sells for $10 dollars at other retailers and $14 directly from the winery, so Costco’s offering about 15-40% off retail.   Not a mind-blower, but for about $9, you may get one of the nicer chardonnays on the market – one that earns the right to be favorably compared to Columbia Crest’s more expensive H3 chard.

Price at Costco: $8.79