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Washington Red Wine

New Releases
January/February 2006
by Jean Yates

Here at Avalon Wine, we tend to divide the red wine world into two parts- Oregon Pinot noir, and everything else. Whether our prejudice for Oregon Pinots makes sense or not is subject for another article: our focus in this article is on the glorious bounty of new red wines releases coming out this winter.

This month, we feature a number of limited reds made from the Champoux Vineyard in Washington State. Some of the highest rated wines made in Washington use fruit from this vineyard.

Most of the wines in this article are small production, hard-to-get, "insider" wines, and you may not have heard of the wineries or winemakers. And then there's the Washington Wine Icons, like Chris Camarda (Andrew Will) and Rick Small (Woodward Canyon), who turn out excellent wines, vintage after vintage. Both winemakers have new releases this winter, and we feature the amazing Andrew Will Sorella 03, a wine that is already drinking beautifully, but has the potential for ten or more years of aging.


Champoux Vineyard

We have savvy wine customers who keep a standing request for info on anything made with Champoux Vineyard fruit- they want to know! The vineyard generates the kind of loyalty seen in Washington's cult wines - and indeed, the vineyard is partially owned by cult favs Quilceda Creek, Andrew Will, and Woodward Canyon wineries. If there were a candidate for a Premier Grand Cru Classé vineyard in Washington State, this would be it.

Champoux Vineyard was planted in 1972, and the age of the vines, impeccable management, and a unique terroir combine to grow grapes that make terrific wines. Several new wines have just been released using Champoux fruit, and we still have a few that were released late last year.

Here's an opportunity to try a range of wines made from Champoux Vineyard fruit:

Champoux Sampler Case
$560 order

You'll receive:
2 - Andrew Will's Sorella 03
2 - Andrew Will Champoux 03
2- Woodward Canyon
Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 02
3 - Fidelitas Champoux Cab 03
3 - O-S Cabernet Franc 03

f$560.00 price is $5.79 off
the regular discounted case price.


Andrew Will Sorella 03

Sorella, named in honor of owner/winemaker Chris Camarda’s sister, is always a blend from Champoux vineyard; 50% block 1 & 2 Cabernet Sauvignon (30+ year old vines and the heart of the wine), 23% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot. The 2003 Sorella stands out as a brooding, complex wine with the perfect combination of power and elegance.

The Sorella is Andrew Will winemaker Chris Camarda’s best wine and the 2003 is exceptional. Smaller yields and a long hang time added to the complexity of the fruit. Warm weather and cool nights helped make for some incredibly intense yet balanced wine.

Deep blackberry and coffee/chocolate/mocha notes, leather and licorice flavors form the core of this wine with dark cherry, almost violet highlights. Cedar and toasted oak notes echo in the background. Silky tannins and a supple texture turn this muscular wine into an elegant beauty.

“Good full ruby. Sexy aromas of deep black raspberry , minerals and dark chocolate. Rich, lush and sweet, with a captivating minerality supporting the black fruit and chocolate flavors. Really sappy and full in the middle, and impressively long on the aftertaste.”
-- 93 points, Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar.  

Food Pairings for Sorella

The 2003 Sorella is great paired with braised lamb with Moroccan spices layered over saffron basmati pilaf folded with mango chutney and drizzled with a little yogurt raita. This wine calls out for a food with complex flavors to pair with it. Not that it wouldn’t go perfectly with a Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin or a Prime Rib, I’m thinking something with Moroccan spices (cumin, coriander and cinnamon) to play on the depth of the wine.

Recipes for Andrew Will Sorella:

Moroccan Braised Lamb
Sinple Raita
Mango Chutney

Andrew Will Champoux Red Wine 03

The 2003 Andrew Will Champoux Red Wine is a blend of old vine Cabernet Sauvignon (59%), Cabernet Franc (21%), Merlot (15%), and Petit Verdot (5%), all from Champoux Vineyard. Average age of the vines is over 23 years old.

From a very ripe vintage, a complex nose of black plum, black cherry, and cassis is complemented by rich, viscous, multifaceted flavors, with hints of toasted espresso bean, fresh turned earth, white pepper, anise, meaty smoke, and just a skoosh of jasmine, all entwined around a strong, silky core of tannins. Acidity is fresh and exquisitely balanced, boding well for long aging. The 2003 Champoux is a lovely experience to drink now, and has all the hallmarks of aging well for continued great tasting experiences through 2010. -jy

Wine Advocate gave the 2002 vintage a rating of 93 points.

Woodward CanyonWoodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon
"Old Vine" 02


"The 2002 continues a tradition of "Dedication Series" Old Vine Cabs that started in 1981. Each year, Rick's finest offering is bottled with a label featuring a different Walla Walla area pioneer, and "...every year it's one of the most-anticipated releases in the Walla Walla Valley" -- Wine Press NW Magazine.

Made from grapes sourced from the oldest section of the famed Champoux Vineyard, the 2002 vintage was warmer than 2001 and this wine reflects that. Flavors of ripe black fruits and cassis marry with spicy oak and vanilla. The color is dark purple and the flavor is concentrated, rich and long; the texture is supple and silky, but still the wine has fantastic grip. This red wine will benefit greatly from additional cellaring and, with proper storage, should last for fifteen years or more from vintage.

Rick Small's Old Vine Cabs, vintage after vintage, show a range of flavors, from classic, wonderfully ripe black cherry, plum, and cassis, to smoke, vanilla, and velvety tannins. Usually, when aged, his wines acquire fascinating flavors of oolong tea, lychee, tobacco, herbs, and cedar, all passing rapidly across the plate in a tempest of evolving flavors and textures.

FidelitasFidelitas Cabernet Sauvignon Champoux Vineyard 03

Very limited top of the line Cab from Charlie Hoppes, a world class cellar selection. 2003 was an exceptionally hot year in Washington State. This vintage of Charlie's coveted Champoux Cab was made from a smaller harvest of tiny, intensely flavored berries. Charlie uses words like "intense" and "lush", "great length" and "richness of character" to describe this wine, considered by many Fidelitas loyalists to be his best wine. 

O-S (Owen Sullivan) Winery Cabernet Franc 03

We sent this stunning Cab Franc to Avalon's December NW Big Reds Club. Chris Camarda (winemaker at Andrew Will) says the Champoux Vineyard grows the best Cabernet Franc in the US, and this wine shows us how he comes to believe that.

Aromas of crushed Bing cherries mingle with hints of tobacco and cinnamon. This mouth filling wine has a voluptuous well rounded texture. The flavors of black currant and dark chocolate complement the distinctive creamed cherry core of Champoux Vineyard Cab Franc. The delicious lengthy finish is supported by powerful rich soft tannins.

Canon de solCanon de Sol Meritage 02

Made by Charlie Hoppes of Fidelitas fame. A wine with a huge scent of sweet plum, blackberry, and cherry fruit, floral notes of black violets mingle with hints of eucalyptus, cedar, anise, and tar. Flavors are of restrained fruit, licorice, tar, white pepper and spice, with a long finish of caramelized sugar, smooth tannins, and a hint of incense cedar needles. This is a really good value at $28, and compares well in quality to winemaker
Charlie Hoppes' Fidelitas "Optu" Meritage 02 ($35). -jy

Nota Bene Abbinare 02


What an interesting and satisfying wine. The nose is full of big, black cherry fruit, hints of caraway and forest, and a hint of oak tannin. The flavors are of black raspberry, licorice, tobacco leaf, and typical Super Tuscan style fruit. there's cocoa and bittersweet chocolate on the finish, with a hint of toast and smoke.

An unusual combination of grapes makes for a lovely food wine. A fine grained dry finish with a hint of spice is refreshing rather than cloying. Calls for a big grilled meat dinner like Osso Buco. - jy

An Avalon Wine Club January Selection.







Highest Rated
NW Big Reds

Highest Rated Oregon Pinot noir

Best Value
Big Reds

Best Value
Pinot noirs

Avalon's Recommended Wines Page

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Best Selling Wines

Black cap Pinot noir
Black Cap
Pinot noir 04

Gordon Brothers Merlot
Gordon Brothers
Merlot 03
Wine Spectator
"Best Buy" 7-31-06

And 90 Points!

McCrea Cellars
McCrea Cellars
Mourvedre 04

Donedei Wines
Donedei Wines
Cabernet Sauvignon 02

Belle Pente
Belle Pente
Yamill Carlton
Pinot noir 04


St Innocent Pinot noir
St Innocent
PN Shea 04 $32.36

Evesham Wood

Evesham Wood

Chardonnay Puit Sec 05

Chardonnay 05

Blanc Du Puit Sec 04

Amalie Robert
Pinot noir
Amalie's Cuvee 04

Wine Spectator rates Oregon's 2002 vintage 97 points

New section- under $20 Pinot noirs
New Section- $20-$30 Oregon Pinot noir


New Washington Red Wine Releases

Andrew Will
Sorella 03

Andrew Will
Champoux 03

Woodward Canyon
Old Vine
Cabernet Sauvignon 02

Cabernet Sauvignon
"Champoux" 03

O-S (Owen Sullivan)
Cabernet Franc 03

Canon de Sol
Meritage 02

Nota Bene
Abbinare 02