The CasaSmith Vino Rosso 2016 is a 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Sangiovese blend sourced from seven vineyards located in various AVAs inside the Columbia Valley AVA of Washington State. CasaSmith is one of Charles Smith’s Wines of Substance line of wines intended to pay tribute to his favorite wines of Italy. You may know Charles Smith from his line of wines that included Kung Fu Girl Reisling and Boom Boom Syrah, he sold those wine to Constellation Brands and is concentrating on the Wines of Substance.
The Vino Rosso is a tribute to the Super Tuscan wines of Tuscany in Italy. In the Chianti region, Chianti is made with the Sangiovese grape, the Chianti wines were in decline from their days of massive popularity. There are governing bodies in Italy (DOC and DOCG) that provide strict rules and regulations for the farming of the grapes and the making of the wine.
A few winemakers were looking to modernize their wines and experimented with using French grapes, mostly Bordeaux grapes and Syrah) which were not permitted by the governing body. The business was slowing down, so the winemakers, who were very encouraged by the results of their new blends, decided to release them for sale, anyway. Even though the grapes came from DOCG and DOC designated vineyards they had to show Table Wine on the label.
Table wine was the lowest classification of Italian wine, usually used for low-cost bulk wine. The Super Tuscans were an immediate hit and are extremely popular to this day. This caused a problem for the DOCG and DOC who were promoting and protecting the quality of Italian wines. Table wine was outselling the highest designated wines, so the created the IGT (now IGP the European Union standardized terms). An IGT wine is a wine that represents the region it is from but does not conform to the rules. So, Super Tuscans were at one time an outlaw wine.
This brings us to CasaSmith Vino Rosso 2016 which is an interesting wine. I forgot which vintage of this wine I had purchased and downloaded the 2017 tech notes by mistake. When I corrected my mistake a got the 2016 notes I found the vineyards used in 2016 were completely different than 2017 and 2016 was oak barrel-aged and 2017 was aged in stainless steel vats. They actually change the sourcing and production details based on the conditions of each vintage.
That is the sort of thing you see in small boutique wineries, not with wines that are available to purchase from coast to coast. So we have vintage selected vineyards, natural yeast, not commercial yeast used in fermentation and oak barrel aging for 9 months with 35% of the barrels new oak. Even though the Super Tuscan wines were from a Sangiovese region the percentage of Sangiovese could vary with each producer or occasionally no Sangiovese was used. A 70% Cabernet Sauvignon to 30% Sangiovese blend is in keeping with the original. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
CasaSmith Vino Rosso 2016 Tasting Notes
The color is a deep, dark, barely see-through black cherry red. The nose is rich and ripe, there is blackberry, exotic spice, cinnamon, plum, bacon frying in the pan (no maple), raspberry, sour cherry, and pepper. This is a chewy Red blend with a nice mix of light and dark flavors. It tastes of a stew of tart cherry, sweet blueberry, and extracted blackberry, followed by interesting spice, and tobacco. The mid-palate adds orange zest. a salty sensation, and dusty chocolate powder. The tannins have a slight edge, you can feel them but do not bite. The acidity is really good, it brings a solid bright edge to the wine. The finish is softer than expected but sticks around.
- The CasaSmith Vino Rosso 2016 is a Super Washington.
- This is a well-made, very tasty wine.
- Give the wine time to open, don’t just pop the top and pour. If you wait you will be rewarded with a velvety texture and rich, bright flavors.