new releases from william church

Monday, April 22, 2013

William Church was one of the earlier arrivals into the Woodinville warehouse district. Their first vintage was 2005, and I was introduced to the wines by Matt Loso, who was consulting at the time. There was a 2005 Dineen Vineyard Syrah that missed the mark for me, and a Cabernet Sauvignon, also from Dineen vineyard, that seemed to have a lot of new barrel flavor overpowering the fruit.

Subsequent vintages were a bit hit or miss, and looking back at my early reviews, I can see where some wineries might have become discouraged, and simply stopped sending the wines.

But the wines kept arriving, as the vintages progressed, and steady progress was evident. Marcus Rafanelli joined the winemaking team in 2008, and when I met him shortly after, he was already excited about the wines.

Those 2008s included a stylish and balanced Gamache Vineyards Malbec, a 90 point Syrah and a superb, 90 point Bishop’s Blend. Clearly a turnaround was in the works.

Since 2009 the William Church Viognier has been notable as well. Overall, vineyard sources have been consistent, the winemaking team has several years of experience, and the current releases, taken all together, are the strongest ever. Here’s a preview – full reviews and scores will be published in the Wine Enthusiast.

William Church 2012 Viognier; $23
Lemon and lime, peaches and apricots rule the palate, ripe but neither hot nor bitter. There’s a good long finish as well, but it’s the fruit that really shines. To be released on May 11th.

William Church 2010 Sur La Mer Red; $36
This is three fifths Merlot, the rest spread among the other four Bordeaux grapes. It’s very well crafted, showing a bit of herb along with berries and spice. What most impresses is the overall structure.

William Church 2010 2 Spires Red; $34
This is two thirds Syrah and one third Cabernet Sauvignon, from Red Willow and Dineen respectively. Though it falls on the lighter side for Washington Syrah, it’s proportionate and pleasing, with strawberry fruit, mocha and toast.

William Church 2010 Bishop’s Blend Red; $23
The Bishop’s Blend is a five grape Bordeaux-style blend with a splash of Grenache as well. Initially silky and bursting with pretty red fruits, it moves into darker fruits as well, with cassis and black cherry.

William Church 2010 Gamache Vineyards Malbec; $34
The best bottle in a strong 2010 lineup, this pure, single vineyard Malbec is flat out lovely. Deep purple fruits – plums and cherries – meet silky tannins and just the right touch with the French oak, a mix of new, once-used, and neutral.

William Church 2010 Syrah; $32
Dineen and Red Willow ‘Les Vins de Marcoux’ supply the fruit for this complex, aromatic Syrah. Ripe, round and mouth-filling, it’s not at all overpowering, but has the style and complexity to hold your interest through the entire bottle.

William Church 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; $40
Outstanding vineyard sources (Dineen, Gamache and Northridge) and a deft blending touch combine here in a supple, complex and beautifully balanced Cabernet Sauvignon. There are spotlights of fresh herb and peavine mingled among the broader flavors of wild berries, all with a toasty underpinning from 20 months in a mix of new, once-used, and neutral French oak.

For information on tasting room hours, special events, and current releases, visit here.

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