2008 Andrew Will Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon

Hello friends. Today marks the fifth offering that I’m lumping under the Signs-of-the-Times label:

SOTT I: 2006 OS Winery Red Wine
SOTT II: Nicholas Cole Portfolio
SOTT III: 2007 Long Shadows Nine Hats
SOTT IV: NV Envious Winemakers Woodinville Red

SOTT V is a doozy: a chance to experience Chris Camarda’s expertise at price points that are not generally associated with Andrew Will. When it comes to Bordeaux grapes, the general rule at Andrew Will (at least for the past decade) has been to favor vineyard over varietal. These wines are the exception, as Chris and his team recognized an opportunity generated by our current economic climate and pounced on it. These wines contain the same stuffing that goes into the higher-end bottlings, and much of the elevage is similar as well (the Merlot, for example, spent 22 months in Taransaud barrels). They are released earlier, of course, and like many 08 reds, benefit enormously from oxygen exposure.

2008 Andrew Will Merlot

Here are the vineyard/varietal sources for this bottle: 50% Ciel du Cheval Merlot; 25% Two Blondes Merlot; 15% Ciel du Cheval Cabernet Franc; 10% Two Blondes Cabernet Franc. If you’re having a “does not compute” moment when looking at those vineyard sources and that price, you’re not alone. Ciel is a spectacular Red Mountain Vineyard, and Two Blondes is the Andrew Will Estate site, which abuts Sheridan Vineyard in the heart of the Yakima Valley.

Chris Camarda built his reputation on Merlots in the ’90s, and his comfort level with the grape is obvious here. Driven by aromas and flavors of red cherries, dust, and mint, this has the structure uniquely endemic to Washington Merlot. The sweet, chewy, pipe-smoke flavored tannins are an openly delicious capper to each sip.

2008 Andrew Will Cabernet Sauvignon

Another jaw-dropping set of vineyard sources: 40% Two Blondes Cab, 30% Champoux Cab, 10% Discovery Cab, 10% Merlot from Ciel du Cheval and Two Blondes, 10% Cab Franc from Ciel du Cheval and Champoux.

This is the more brooding of the two wines. While the Merlot is openly friendly from the pull of the cork, this Cab holds cards closer to its chest. The profile is dark, with loads of blackcurrant, blackberry, asphalt, and herb. Minerals and chalk are streaked across the palate, and this has a compelling salty character as well. Dense and grippy with its drying, tea-flavored tannins, the mouthfeel is classic Cabernet.

Who knows if these black-label bottles will continue to be produced after the 2008 vintage? For now, though, we can stock up. First come first served up to 36 bottles of each wine, and both wines should arrive within 1-2 weeks, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window (tentatively scheduled to open on October 11).

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