Andrew Will Winery Champoux Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills Merlot 2018
A combination of dark fruit intermingles with notes of cassis, mocha and wildflowers. This wine has a rich and smooth mouthfeel that exhibits fine-grained tannins while still maintaining a sense of lift and freshness.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Impeccably balanced, the 2018 Merlot Champoux Vineyard offers fresh and ripe fruit flavors of plum, black cherry and dusty purple flowers with hints of brown baking spices. Medium to full-bodied on the palate, the wine displays elevated alcohol with expertly managed tannins before showing a dusty mineral tension across the mid-palate. The Merlot concludes with a food-friendly and lingering finish. Just under 3,000 bottles were made for the world after the wine rested for 22 months in 25% new French oak. Bravo!
Based on 100% Merlot from a great site in the Horse Heaven Hills, the 2018 Merlot Champoux Vineyard offers a smoky, meaty nose of black cherries, plums, chocolate, tobacco, and earth. This carries to a plum, mouth-filling, delicious Merlot with light tannins, a juicy, bright, elegant texture, and a good finish, all while packing plenty of ripe, opulent fruit.
Andrew Will Winery was started in 1989 and is owned by Chris Camarda. The winery was named for nephew Andrew and son Will. Andrew Will was launched out of a love for wine that Chris developed while working in the restaurant trade for almost 20 years. Named after his son Will and nephew Andrew, Andrew Will has been a major contributor in putting Washington State on the map as a world-class wine-producing region.
Andrew Will wines are labeled by vineyard with each wine a different makeup of the Bordeaux varietals. These vineyards, all in the Columbia Valley, include Camarda's own estate Two Blondes. He is part owner of the Champoux Vineyard and sources from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. They make about 4500 cases of wine. In addition to the blends, Andrew Will makes from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and Sangiovese from fruit grown at Ciel du Cheval.
"Surely this is Horse Heaven!”
Its wide prairies and rolling expanses led an early pioneer to proclaim that the region looked like “horse heaven,” and as a result, the area was appropriately named. Horse Heaven Hills is in south central Washington state, geographically bound on its northern border by the Yakima River and in the south, by the larger Columbia River.
Its proximity to the Columbia River contributes to a variety of climactic factors that dramatically affect its grapes. In particular, an increase in wind from changes in pressure along the river, which flows from the cool and wet Pacific Ocean, inland to Washington’s hot and arid plains, creates 30% more wind than there would be otherwise. These winds moderate temperatures, protect against mold and rot, reduce the risk of early and late season frosts, diminish canopy size and toughen grape skins.
The vineyards bordering the river are on steep, south-facing, well-exposed slopes, with well-drained, sandy-loam soils. But the soils of the appellation are diverse throughout, ranging from wind-blown sand and loess, Missoula Flood sediment, and rocky basalt. Horse Heaven Hills has an arid continental climate with elevations ranging from 200 to 1,800 feet.
The first vines of the appellation were planted in 1972 in an optimal spot now referred to as the Champoux Vineyard. Today it remains the source of some of Washington’s most desirable and expensive Cabernet Sauvignons. In fact, the appellation as a whole boasts many of Washington’s top scoring wines. Its primary grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Riesling.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.