2007 Zephros Cabernet Sauvignon Champoux Vineyard

July 2, 2014

Hello friends. I can’t deny it: I’ve lost all credibility when it comes to my (ongoing) claims that we’re reaching the end of opportunities to access wines from the glorious 2007 vintage in Washington. One of these days we really are going to reach the end, but in the meantime, I’ll keep saying it: from the Department Of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, here is our very last bottle from 2007. Until our next very last bottle from 2007.

It’s one thing to access run of the mill 2007 fruit; it’s another to access Champoux Vineyard Cabernet, especially at this price point (note: this had a release price of $45, but I’ve lately seen it offered for $30 at a few other spots on our old friend the world wide web). Champoux, located in the Horse Heaven Hills, has as strong a reputation for Cabernet as any vineyard in the state. The wineries that own partnership stakes in the vineyard (along with grower Paul Champoux) are Quilceda Creek, Woodward Canyon, Andrew Will, and Powers.

When I tasted this Zephros bottling, it reminded me of nothing more than the Powers Champoux wine we offered way back in February 2012 (that one was 2008 vintage, and it was $35.99 TPU). So it did not come as a complete surprise to hear that the owner of Zephros is an old college buddy of Greg Powers, and that it is Greg who is making this wine. That owner is a fellow named Richard Freeman, and he is also a partner in a sushi restaurant in Tokyo. This label was mostly created to export and pour at his restaurant (to wit, all the Zephros tech notes appear in English and Japanese), but there’s a little parcel kicking around eastern Washington, and one of the very finest of our Vast Network Of Wine Spies™ alerted me to its existence.

The fact that Greg Powers is involved in the project is happy news, because it means that a) this is a winemaking family that has been working with Champoux Vineyard since the 1992 vintage; and b) the winemaker, as an ownership partner in Champoux Vineyard, has access to the filet of the neighborhood. The elevage, too, is way more than you’d expect at this tariff: two and a half years in 100% new French oak. After bottling in July 2010, this now has an additional four years of bottle age.

Beautiful, and what a treat to access this bottle at this stage in its evolution. It’s a stage that I like to call “the deep breath before the plunge” (borrowing from a certain wizard you may know), where a wine still contains a breath of primary character but is poised to move more into its tertiary notes. Dried cherry, leather spice, and Champoux’s signature of graphite (a note I’ve heard described from earthy to pencil lead) kick off the complex, alluring nose. The palate has all the richness of the killer 07 vintage (14.5% listed alc), with fruits both fresh (cassis) and dried (dried cherry, dried apricot), and more of that insistent graphitic minerality. It’s a palate-stainer of a Cab, with intensity to spare, and it rolls into a powerful, black tea-laden finish with honest Cabernet chew and serious length. “What the hell?!?” is the last line of my tasting note, an expression of my bafflement at tasting an 07 this good, at this time, for this price. Lucky us.

First come first served up to 24 bottles, and the wine should arrive in the next week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.