Hello friends. I often like these Friday reoffers to have some kind of theme. If no theme obviously exists, I’m not above force-fitting the wines into a made-up theme. Well, today, I’m not sure if it’s the newborn-at-home sleep deprivation or what, but no compelling theme is bubbling up to the surface of this addled brain. There’s Washington and Oregon and import, there’s four different vintages, there’s private label. Really, there’s a little bit of everything.
The only thing these wines have in common is that they’ve been popular. Popular reorder targets. Popular anecdotally, either in person at the warehouse or through feedback mailed to us. And today, that’ll have to be theme enough.
August Cellars has produced wine under their own label since 2002, but winemaking is only one part of a multi-generational, multi-agricultural business. In 1890, August Schaad (the winery’s namesake) emigrated from Germany to the United States. August’s oldest son, Clarence Schaad, purchased the winery’s 42-acre property in 1942, and the farm is currently run by Clarence’s two surviving children, Lewis and Grace. About half of the farmland is devoted to mature English Walnut trees, the remainder split among Italian plums, woods, the winery itself, and yes, some Pinot Noir vines. The winery is managed by Lewis Schaad’s two sons, Jim and Tom, with Jim in charge of winemaking (Jim would be August’s great grandson, for those counting at home).
This 2012 was raised entirely in neutral barrels, and it clocks in at 12.5% listed alc. The nose offers real purity to the blackest of black cherry juice, paired with dark loamy/leafy forest floor notes and black tea. In the mouth, it’s the texture you notice first: this has an impressive sense of palate weight and presence, and conveys real richness and deliciousness, all on a frame that zips along with moderate alcohol and plenty of mouthwatering blood-orange acidity. This offers sneaky back-end chew, serious stuffing, and way more overall complexity then we have any right to expect at a $15 tag.
Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”
To put this into context, of the 2,244 wines Sean has reviewed for Wine Enthusiast to date, a mere 16 have earned scores higher than Star’s 94pt review (those range from $50-$140). And only 24 other wines share Star’s 94pt score. Those range from $40-$150, with a median price of $72.50. All that to say: Star is an outlier.
The first thing you notice is the color density. This is inky red-black from core to rim. The nose comes spilling up out of the glass, with beautiful minty freshness atop a core of blackcurrant fruit and dark chocolate barrel notes and smoky/flinty minerals. The palate reveals a wine at a lovely place in its evolution. 2009 was a warm year in Washington, and it yielded an approachable vintage for wines. This one is actually more evolved, I would say, than the 2007 or 08. I’d drink the 09 first, then 07, and continue to wait a few years to crack those 2008s.
The good news with a warm year like 2009 (14.9% alc) is two-fold: first, it means there is no shortage of lush, delicious fruit. And second, it’s like hopping in a wine-ageing time machine. Everything moves a little faster in a warm year, and this is already displaying lovely tertiary sensibilities: some dried fruit to go with the fresh, some earth and mushroom and leather to go with the fruit. And that continuing minty-eucalyptus note keeps things very fresh and lively. Texturally, this is all charm and pleasure in the front, then more serious in the back: a reverse mullet wine, as I like to call it. The attack and mid-palate are plump and generous, but as the wine rolls into the finish, it broadens, coating the whole palate in fine-grained, integrating tannins, redolent of black tea studded with black cherries.
Originally offered January 22, 2016, and I’ve just been told this wine is effectively sold out. There’s a parcel being held for us, but this will certainly be last call on this wine. Now then, excerpts from the original: Today’s wine represents the gateway drug into the greater Andrew Will lineup, and it comes from a vineyard that surprised the hell out of me. As soon as I saw the tech sheet for this wine, my jaw dropped: This 2014 wine is medium to full bodied. It has a remarkable depth of flavors. It is fresh on the palate and has an alluring nose of violets and pencil shavings. Champoux Vineyards is the source for this wine. This is sensational fruit. Talk about burying the lede! Champoux fruit in the black label? Really?!?
Production of the black label is never very high, and restaurants eat this stuff up, either using it as an expensive ($20+) glass-pour, or using it to have a $70 Andrew Will wine on their list (as opposed to the usual $120 and up).
I probably should have known there was Champoux fruit here, since my note covers all the basics of this vineyard: blackcurrant fruit, violet florals, minty top-notes, and tarry/graphitic bass notes. It’s a glorious, soaring nose, very expressive for such a young wine. All the charms of the 2014 vintage are on display here. This is deep, rich, and supple (14.2% listed alc), an easy drinker with tannins that are present (you know it’s Cabernet) but combed to a fine sheen. The classy Andrew Will house style is certainly on display here. The fruit quality and barrel regimen bear more than a striking resemblance to the white label wines, with the biggest difference being time in barrel (just 13 months here) and overall age (the white label 2012s are just now being released). For those of us interested in Andrew Will at an accessible tag, I think we’ll be willing to overlook those differences and enjoy this black label Cab for its unapologetic deliciousness.
Wine Enthusiast (Michael Schachner): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 96pts.”
I’ll reprint the Gutierrez note as well. Wine Advocate (Luis Gutierrez): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 96pts.”
Please limit order requests to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should all be in the warehouse within the next week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.