Part 8, Washington State: visiting one of North America's leading wine
These were the first Washington State wines I fell in love with,
when I tasted the range back in 2001.
Andrew Will is the name of Chris Camarda's boutique winery. We met
with Chris for dinner, to taste through a selection from the range.
He comes across as an engaging and
slightly eccentric character.
Chris started making the Andrew Will wines back in 1989 when he was
managing a restaurant in Seattle. He'd begun making wine with
friends, at his mother's house, the two previous vintages. 'The
wines were relatively successful,' he recalls. 'I got bonded in 1989
and kept working at the restaurant until I quit on 1 January 1997.'
At the time the winery was in a small warehouse in the city. After
working at the restaurant, he'd head to the winery at night. He used
the weekends or days off to do more involved winery operations, such
1994 he bought some property at Vaston Island, selling his house in
Seattle. 'I bought 5 acres in Vaston, which has no bridge to it –
it's a 15 minute ferry ride – so it has a rural feel,' says Chris.
His winery is located there, and he takes the grapes over on the
ferry. 'The first crush was in August 1994, and we've been there
ever since.' The first year he made 400 cases. Now Andrew Will is a
3500-6000 case winery each vintage.
Andrew Will wines are exclusively red, and they are blends of
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. There's also a second
label, the black label, which consists of varietal wines, which are
about half the price, but which Chris says are essentially the same
wines, without blending.
not impressed by the modern crop of high alcohol, over-ripe reds
that are coming out of Washington State. 'It is becoming difficult
to distinguish the differences in the vineyards now that alcohol
dominates the wines,' says Chris. 'You lose varietal distinctiveness
too, because of he dominaton of alcohol.' He blames the major
critics for rewarding this style. 'When you get a pH of 4 and 15.7%
alcohol, the wines taste sweet,' he says. 'I think they are flawed
Cabernet Franc is a favourite variety for Chris. 'In my view,
Cabernet Franc is the most important grape in the state. It allows
so much sophistication in the blends.'
wines are mostly made from rented vineyards, but Chris owns the Two
Blondes Vineyard and is a partner in Champoux Vineyard.
Andrew Will Ciel de Cheval Vineyard 2011 Washington State
Vivid, fresh and a bit grippy with nice bright, pure
blackcurrant and berry fruits. Quite juicy and grippy with a hint of
Andrew Will Champoux Vineyard 2011 Horse Heaven Hills, Washington
13% alcohol. Bright and a bit fleshy with lovely focused, grippy
blackberry and black cherry fruit. Pure and supple with lovely
delicacy and freshness. Floral. 93/100
Andrew Will Two Blondes Vineyard 2011 Yakima Valley, Washington
Generous and berryish with a nice hint of green. Lovely
blackcurrant fruit with real finesse. So sophisticated. Such finesse
Andrew Will Sorella Champoux Vineyard 2011 Horse Heaven Hills,
Grippy, structured and dense with nice grip. Quite powerful with
real intensity and a drying finish. 93/100
Andrew Will Two Blondes Vineyard 2012 Yakima Valley, Washington
14% alcohol. Sleek, smooth and pure with lovely elegant yet ripe
blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Nice hint of green. Has flesh,
but also freshness. 93/100
Andrew Will Champoux Vineyard 2006 Horse Heaven Hills, Washington
Fresh with lovely blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, with some
spiciness. Grippy with a hint of drying tannin. Still quite primary
and dense with smooth black fruits to the fore. 93/100
WASHINGTON STATE WINES
du Cheval Vineyard
with Kevin Pogue
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