Three 2010s from Andrew Will

Hello friends. After offering 2010 Champoux and Sorella from Andrew Will back in October, today we’re rounding out the vintage with Chris Camarda’s remaining three white-label single vineyard bottlings.

The whole lineup of 2010s from Andrew Will was a thrill ride. There were only a handful of Washington vintners in 2010 who had enough years of winemaking experience to have seen truly cool vintages before. That comfort level was readily apparent tasting Chris’ wines. It’s clear that he took what the vintage gave him and didn’t try to force over-ripeness on a vintage that wanted to be anything but. Instead, his 2010s are sleek, elegant beauties, wines likely to have immortal aging curves.

I was fascinated to find that some of the strongest prose on these wines comes from John Gilman, whose View From The Cellar is usually quite Euro-focused. Considering 2010 was among the coolest, most Euro-styled vintages in Washington in some time, perhaps it should come as no surprise.

2010 Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval Vineyard

Chris Camarda has been working with Ciel fruit since the early 1990s, and the length of the relationship is important in two ways. First, Chris has developed a comfort level with the vineyard; comfort that allows him to produce a Ciel bottling each year that is the truest expression possible of this Grand Cru Red Mountain site. And second, he gets the good stuff: some of the oldest vines in the vineyard; Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1982 block and Merlot from the 1976 block.

Ciel is an incredible site, with gnarled old vines growing right out of Red Mountain sand. Those sandy soils are as non-nutritive as they look, and you can imagine how deeply those old vines have had to dig in search of water and nutrients, and how much depth and character they impart to the finished wine.

This 2010 vintage is a near equal split of Merlot and Cabernet Franc (there is zero Cabernet Sauvignon), aged for about two years in barrel. It clocks in at 13.2% listed alc and drinks like it, an earthy, vibrant marvel of a wine. The core is all iron minerality and herbal savories, with the redcurrant and red cherry fruit currently locked up tightly behind walls of acid and tannin structure. It’s classy juice, filled with suaveness and energy, but it’s a real baby, in need of several years before it begins unveiling its truest colors. If you’re opening this any time soon, a long decant is required. A real old-school pleasure, reminiscent of the mid-‘90s Washington wines that drink so breathtakingly beautiful today.

View From The Cellar (John Gilman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

2010 Andrew Will Two Blondes Vineyard

I’ve always been especially fond of Andrew Will’s Two Blondes bottling. It’s the only estate fruit in the portfolio, from a 30-acre Yakima Valley site planted in 2000 and tended carefully by vineyard manager Chris Hoon. Here is the vineyard map, and much of this wine comes from the Angle Block.

Take a cool vineyard, combine it with a cool year, and you get 12.8% listed alcohol, which is quite low for any Washington red not coming out of the Columbia Gorge. But again, for me this is a winemaker taking exactly what the vintage gave him and crafting something beautiful. In 2010 it’s a blend predominantly of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, rounded out with smaller amounts of Cab Franc and Malbec.

It possesses the Two Blondes aromatic signature, which the San Francisco Chronicle writer Jon Bonne has called “sanguine and pimenton” and which for me is this alluring musky sweet chile pepper note. Regardless, it can get lost if the fruit is allowed to get too ripe, but here it’s a ringing bell of purity and clarity, and it transitions into a palate that is full of earthy savories, all beetroot and smoky/peaty earth. It’s a wine for the long haul and a total ringer for Bordeaux, with bright acids, leafy tannins, and a profound sense of earthiness. Those with the patience to cellar this will be handsomely rewarded. Time is the key that will unlock this wine’s true beauty.

View From The Cellar (John Gilman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

2010 Andrew Will Cabernet Sauvignon Discovery Vineyard

And a little bonus, which I wasn’t even sure we’d be able to offer. Only 127 cases were produced, and we have access to just a handful.

Discovery is as buzzy a Cabernet site as I can think of in Washington right now, a young site with luminaries such as Andrew Will and Quilceda Creek purchasing fruit. The vineyard is in the heart of the Horse Heaven Hills (location here), on a sloping bluff high above the Columbia (here’s a picture from the site). Geologically, it’s an area that was repeatedly hammered by the Missoula floods, which left gravel bars and weird flood sediments all over the place, topped by a layer of sandy loess.

Champoux Vineyard is without question the most famous site in Horse Heaven (and perhaps the entire state), and Paul Champoux himself helped owners Milo and Kay May plant Discovery in 2004. He remains involved with vineyard management at a consulting/mentoring level. Discovery is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with a little Syrah and Petit Verdot in production, and Merlot and Cab Franc on the way. But because those last two aren’t in production yet, this is that rare beast: a white-label Andrew Will that is 100% varietal. It has lovely graphitic HHH minerality to go with cassis and blueberry fruit, and dustings of star anise. Again this is a tightly-wound structure ball, the fruit on the palate hiding behind walls of vibrant acidity, black-tea tannin structure, and all that good minerality. Dark and brooding, this bides its time, hides its finest qualities. Patience, patience, patience.

View From The Cellar (John Gilman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of Ciel and 2 Blondes, and 6 bottles of Disco, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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