Wine Review: 2004 Andrew Will Sorella

18 07 2011

I may have let PnP’s 50th wine review pass with a $13 bottle that didn’t quite scream “momentous occasion”, but I wasn’t about to let review #51 similarly slip by without bringing out the big guns.  As a belated “happy 50th”/”I can’t believe I’ve written 30,000+ words about wine for free” gift to self, I went to my current favourite red wine region last night for a special bottle:  the 2004 Andrew Will Sorella red blend from Washington State.  I got this wine for my birthday this year from a couple of very discerning and wine-savvy friends (thanks Tyler and Corey!) and am proud that I actually held out for 2 months before my resolve totally melted away…give me a premium Washington red and my willpower just evaporates.  The current release price for this wine is $75 to $80 a bottle, but I’m guessing a back-vintage bottle like this (the current vintage is 2008) probably pushed $100 or more.  Let’s get to it.

To turn any event into a celebration, just add Sorella.

The first important fact to know:  there is no such person as Andrew Will.  Head winemaker Chris Camarda named his winery for his nephew (Andrew) and his son (Will), and his top red, Sorella, is named in honour of his deceased sister (“Sorella” means “sister” in Italian).  Sorella, like most of Camarda’s wines, is a Bordeaux blend (i.e. a blend of at least 2 of the 5 grapes used in red wines in Bordeaux, France), though the exact percentage of the blend changes every year:  this one is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot.  All of the grapes come from the highly-regarded Champoux Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills wine region; I featured another Andrew Will wine from this very vineyard in my birthday boondoggle tasting review back in May, the 2007 Champoux Vineyard, which was big, fruity and textured but lacked a bit of complexity.  The Sorella didn’t have that problem, and was surely aided by the fact that it was 7 years old by the time I cracked it.

That touch of age had a profound effect on the colour of the wine, which instead of being dark purple was blood red with just a hint of brick at the edges, though it was still thick and deep and by no means faded.  I almost ran out of notepad paper trying to put my finger(s) on the various aromas on the nose, starting with pure raspberry, black cherry and blueberry fruit and moving to savoury (tomato, paprika), metallic (graphite, copper), oaky (char, toast) and age-driven (brown sugar, leather) scents, but not in any specific progression — the fruit was always there, but all the other notes somehow managed to display themselves prominently at once, like stereo surround-sound, olfactory-style.  The Sorella was already throwing a fairly big amount of sediment, but if its structure had softened as a result, you’d never know it.  This was full throttle red wine from start to finish:  full body, big acidity, big plush tannin and big alcohol, though even with this intense combination of components it somehow managed not to be a reckless fruit bomb.  The juicy raspberry and blackberry fruit didn’t overwhelm the palate, allowing secondary notes of lead pencil, earth, cedar and mint, and surprising layers of minerality, to shine through and carry the wine to an extended, briary, rustic sort of finish.

Cork Rating: 4.5/10 (Just too boring to score any higher.)

To me, the Sorella is indicative of a rare balance that Washington reds seem to get right more than wines from most other regions in the world.  It’s serious, yet approachable; casual, yet intellectual; fruity, yet complex.  I had this bottle over 2 days and found that it revealed itself a lot more on Day 2, which suggests that additional aging would likely be beneficial to it and help it develop even further.  If I wasn’t on an extremely tight wine budget right now (thanks to the WSET Advanced course costing around $1500, payable out of said budget), I would be highly inclined to go to Willow Park Wine & Spirits in south Calgary, pick up another bottle of back-vintage Sorella and pretend I didn’t own it for the next 3-5 years so I could try it again then…I bet you the resulting score would be even higher.

92 points

$80 to $120 CDN 

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