Andrew Will Wines – Releasing the 2007s, Tasting the 2003

As we receive our allocation of the 2007s from the always impressive Andrew Will line up, it seemed an appropriate time to pull the cork on a 2003 Andrew Will. After all, these Washington State gems age beautifully and, with 2007 being classically cool, it is a vintage that will age gracefully.

Since Andrew Will’s inception in 1989, Owner-Wine Maker Chris Comarda has focused on Bordeaux style blends primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot. Chris has an amazing ability to balance powerful fruit and structure with the elegance of bright acidity and a sense of earth. Neither fruit bomb nor old world in style, these wines showcase just how impressive the  best growing conditions of the Columbia valley can be. Critics have weighed in big time as well, with the 2007 Champoux bottling scoring 95 points from Parker’s WA, while the 2007 Sorella garnered a whopping 96+ points.

2003 Andrew Will Sheridan Red
No longer one of the wines produced at Andrew Will (although fruit is still sourced from the vineyard), I remember tasting the 2003 upon its release. Gorgeous, lush fruit was trying to sneak out from behind the structure of tight, fine tannins and the fresh zing of balanced acidity. It was a serious mouth full of wine, but there was evidence that time would further soften the wine and bring out even more of the fruit. And so, six years later, the wine is everything I hoped it to be. Hard, tannic edges had dissipated, leaving deep, soft, velvety dark fruit. The presence of toasty oak was now in the background, adding a touch of elegant spice. What brought a smile to my face was the one component that had not changed. There was still a fresh acidity that lifted the fruit and brightened it and made it dance on the palate. The wine still possessed its balance and finesse, evidence that patience pays off big time with Andrew Will wines.

2007 Andrew Will
We have four offerings from Andrew Will’s 2007 vintage. The first two are newer offering that allow us to enjoy Chris’s wines now, while waiting on the second two to come around.

Andrew Will Cuvee Lucia Cabernet Sauvignon, $26.99
A great price on a bottle of Andrew Will Cabernet. Plenty of rich, lush fruit that remains focused and fresh (trademark Andrew Will). Chris did an amazing job producing this in a style that is ready to drink now – soft and silky – so drink up!

Andrew Will May’s Discovery Cabernet Sauvignon, $39.99
A 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that possesses surprisingly rich fruit and depth considering it all comes from young vines. What is not surprising about the young vines is the velvety soft texture and round suppleness that makes this wine ready to drink now. A great intro to Andrew Will.

Andrew Will Champoux Vineyard, $54.99
52% Cabernet Franc, 21% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petite Verdot. Packed with bright, fresh fruit, there is a sense of laser beam precision to this wine. The focus of the deep fruit and earth is amazing with screaming freshness that lifts this wine on the palate despite its dense, mocha finish. Amazing juice.

Andrew Will Sorella, $63.99
72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot. Much more Cabernet based, the Sorella bottling sources fruit solely from Chamoux vineyard, making for a fun comparison of the two wines. As it turns out, other that wine making style, these wines are quite different (no surprise). The higher level of Cabernet lends a more tart, red cherry and chocolate note to the wine. Almost more vibrant than the Champoux bottling, if that is possible, Sorella is also a bit softer while maintaining its sense of freshness and depth of fruit. Another gorgeous bottling for the cellar or decanted  for a number of hours if you can’t keep your hands off of it!

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Heat Wave Wine

Even here in Vermont summer has hit full force with temps allegedly nearing 95 degrees later today. Time to check your water intake and time to double check the weight of your wine. Not exactly what you hear on the local news about how to beat the heat! By weight I mean the way the wine feels in your mouth, its richness of texture, how it plays on your taste buds and sits on the back of your tongue after you swallow it. California Cabernets grown on the valley floor, for instance, tend to carry a lot of weight, coating the insides of your mouth and sitting like sludge after you swallow. One might find such wines tantalizing on a cold winter night with a thick slab of beef and mashed potatoes. Not so much on a hot summer night.

Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris everywhere outside of Italy) was built for a heat wave. But not just any Pinot Grigio. Steer clear of the overproduced, mass marketed, under-styled versions with sweet flabby fruit. Well made Pinot Grigio can dance lightly across the palate, delivering a fresh wallop of bright fruit along the way and finishing with balanced acidity that leads to a clean, crisp finish.  Refreshing to say the least. Here is a shop favorite:

Lechthaler Pinot Grigio 2009, Trento Italy, $12.00
The Lechthaler Family settled in Northern Italy’s Trentino region in the late 1800s, when it was still Austria. At the foot of the Dolomites, Lechthaler produces a beautiful Pinot Grigio with all the refreshing fruit, brightness and freshness one could ask. Aged only in stainless steel, the wine remains crisp and clean allowing its stony minerality to shine through. Perfect for deck sitting or paired with summer salads and fresh seafood on the grill.

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Pinot Noir On A Budget

Pinot Noir is a finicky grape. It likes cool growing conditions and does not like to be over produced. Keeping crop levels down per acre is a must, which is one reason Pinot Noir is a more expensive grape to grow and a very hard wine to make of decent quality in the $12 and under category. In California, inexpensive Pinot Noir is often not 100% Pinot Noir. Syrah is the most often employed substitute and can make up 25% of a wine that still carries the name Pinot Noir on the label. Growers are able to enlarge crop yields for the Pinot Noir, which typically dilutes the quality, and make up for the lack of fruit through the use of Syrah, a grape with more weight and color. What these wines lack is true Pinot character. There is no sense of freshness and minerality. Luckily there are exceptions (otherwise what would be the use of writing about it!). Here are a couple of favorites. How they do it, I don’t know, but these Pinots maintain their Pinot-ness beautifully.

Vinum Cellars Pinot Noir California 2008, $10.00
Sourcing fruit from California’s Monterey area, Vinum Cellars succeeds in producing a Pinot Noir that keeps its fresh Pinot character without giving up its depth. While there may not be layers of complexity, this wine delivers pretty fruit and balanced acidity at a heck of a price.

Joseph Mellot Pinot Noir Destinea 2009, $11.00
Here we have serious old world charm from France’s Loire Valley. More than just pretty Pinot fruit, here there are multiple layers of fresh fruit, spice and briary earth. More Burgundian in style, this Pinot sets the bar for old world charm at an often untouchable price for the quality. A favorite for Burgundy lovers on a budget. Note: This wine can also be found under the Joseph Mellot Sincerite label. Sources say it is the same wine, different importer.

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White Wine Like No Other

As the snow continues to fly here in Vermont, white wines that speak of spring and summer are still a couple of months out from hitting the radar. But there are whites that pair beautifully with the winter season, perfect with a roasted chicken or slow cooked pork loin, served at cellar temperature (55 degrees) rather than chilled to an icy cold. A gorgeous wine from Italy’s region of Campania, south of Tuscany, fits the bill to a “T”. Continue reading

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Change Of Pace For Burgundy Lovers

The biggest downside of being a Burgundy lover is that most other wines of the world just fall short. The magic of Burgundy comes from its depth of fruit while remaining weightless and silky in the mouth. There is no heaviness as the fruit dances around on the tongue. Price can also be a downer as Burgundy continues its rise in popularity globally, being soaked up by new markets for its prestige as much as its style. So where does a Burgundy lover turn for a change in pace and a few steps down in price? Continue reading

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Old World in the New World

Mendoza, Argentina is creating fun, fruit forward, value Malbecs. And there are certainly a number of higher priced, well balanced, blockbuster Malbecs coming out of said area. But rarely does one find earthy, old world values in Mendoza. Enter 2006 Weinert Carascal, a Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot blend. Continue reading

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2009 Abott’s Table. Yum.

One might assume that Owen Roe’s 2009 Abbot’s Table Red, a blend of nine varietals, is a kitchen sink blend of leftovers that did not fit in any number of this producer’s other phenomenal  bottlings. Believe it or not, this is the first wine that winemaker David O’Reilly produces each year, with all of his juice at his disposal. Continue reading

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