Despite a long, storied history of making some of Washington’s (and we’ll argue America’s) best red wines, from one of the best Cabernet vineyards, Champoux, this is the first Andrew Will wine to be labeled Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. And what a first it is.
As much as I love Andrew Will’s Champoux Vineyard blend, since the early 2000s it has transitioned to a Merlot/Cab Franc-based wine instead of a Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine. Not mincing words, I prefer Cab as the backbone of Washington reds and I especially love Champoux Cab.
This new ‘17 strikes me as a baby Sorella (Andrew Will’s flagship wine), though to add “baby” to it might sound pejorative and it shouldn’t. Sorella’s average vine-age is 40 years-old so virtually any/all of its peers will seem “baby” in comparison. The Champoux Cab ‘17 boasts an average vine-age of 25 years, which is still impressive for Washington state. It has what I think is a classic Champoux Cab profile: black cherry and cassis feature prominently, along with subtle notes of tobacco, plum, and pastry. Unlike my early favorites from Andrew Will, this is elegant and much more supple-tannined; it drinks well already and thus I suggest you get right to it!
My first Andrew Will wines, the 2002s, totally rocked me. They were unlike anything I had ever tasted. 2002 Champoux was like a punch to my soul...a good punch. I recall those vintages of Andrew Will as massively structured, chewy-tannined beasts.
It was right around then that the winery announced they’d stop making variety-based wines and instead make only vineyard-based wines. For more than a decade, that’s what they stuck with.
Then they reincorporated single-variety wines at a lower price tier: Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, and Merlot, all labeled as Columbia Valley. The best of them, while still labeled as “Columbia Valley,” were 100% Champoux Vineyard, perhaps THE greatest/most well-known Cabernet vineyard in the state. It wasn’t a secret–we certainly wrote about the impeccable fruit source–and finally the winery seems to have acknowledged that it makes a hell of a lot of sense to put Champoux on the label!
From the winery: In 2017 we decided that the Cabernet from Champoux has long been established and that we should recognize that on the bottle. Hence the creation of a full new line-up of single vineyard wines featuring our signature grapes.
The 2017 vintage started out with a cool spring which was an extension of the preceding cool, wet winter throughout Eastern Washington. This meant that both bud break and bloom took place behind some of the more recent warm vintages. July and August warmed up with temperatures higher than average leading to a typical harvest time of mid-September for the first grapes. By the end of September, the temperatures started to cool down allowing for extra hang time and a more extending harvest window.
The 2017 Vintage is already shaping up to be vintage with a focus on elegance and freshness.