Hello friends. One of our list’s favorite discoveries of 2014 is back with a new vintage today. It’s well-aged, well-priced Cabernet Sauvignon from perhaps the best Cabernet vineyard in Washington:
Champoux Vineyard, 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. There are some serious heavy hitters on that list.
The owner of Zephros (Richard Freeman) is an old college buddy of Greg Powers, and it is Greg who is making this wine. Hence the connection to Champoux fruit. Richard is also a partner in a sushi restaurant in Tokyo. The Zephros label was mostly created to export and pour at his restaurant (as it happens, all the Zephros tech notes appear in English and Japanese), but there have been little parcels of a few Zephros wines kicking around eastern Washington. One of the very finest of our Vast Network Of Wine Spies™ happens to be based in eastern Washington, and he alerted me to the existence of that original 2007 vintage, and now this 2008.
Because Zephros is working with an ownership partner in Champoux, they’re getting access to some of the vineyard’s best fruit. And the elevage, too, is way more than you’d expect at this tariff: 30 months in 100% new French oak. After bottling in August 2011, this now has an additional four years of bottle age. What a treat, to taste Champoux Cabernet solidly along its path towards maturity! This offers a brilliant dark Champoux nose: blackberry fruit, tarry streaks, and graphitic minerality. It’s all lifted and freshened by a lovely eucalyptus topnote. In the mouth, the thing you notice right away is that great 2008-vintage energy. I’m crazy about 08. Overshadowed by showier 2007, this is a vintage that will – in my opinion – eventually outlive its predecessor. Like many 2008s, this is positively propulsive, humming across the palate with wonderful depth of fruit and mineral character. Densely packed layers of fruit and earth and espresso (14.5% listed alc) are just waiting to unfurl. This is a powerhouse, with serious tannic structure, attractive Cabernet toothsomeness, and an inherent sense of Champoux dirt. It’s real-deal Champoux Cabernet at a tag half as expensive as most of its peers.
First come first served up to 36 bottles, and the wine should arrive in the next two to three weeks, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.