It’s been quite a long time since we put wines from two new wineries in this club. With new wineries being founded every day, it’s not surprising that some of them will produce outstanding wines. These two, Avennia and Lauren Ashton, have both been named “Rising Stars” by Seattle Metropolitan magazine, and we think they will become fixtures in our shop and on the Washington scene for years to come.
2011 Avennia, Gravura, Columbia Valley Red Wine
The winemaker at Avennia is Chris Peterson, who was a winemaker at Delille for seven years. Chris was actually the very first graduate of Walla Walla Community College’s Enology and Viticulture program, and he continued on there as a teaching assistant to the legendary Stan Clarke. With Chris’ outstanding training, extensive travel throughout France and Italy, and experience at one of Washington’s elite wineries, it’s not a surprise that he’s been able to craft very polished wines right from the start at this two- year-old Woodinville winery. This Gravura is named in honor of the Graves area, the only region in Bordeaux that blends Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in roughly equal amounts. The Cabernet Sauvignon in the wine is from Dionysus and Red Willow Vineyards, known for beautiful berries and soft textures. The Merlot comes from Red Willow and also from Klipsun Vineyard on Red Mountain, which adds a bit more tannin. The Cabernet Franc comes from Bacchus, which is right next to Dionysus. It is raised in French oak, 60% new, for twenty months. It’s dark, round and plush, with dark fruit and mocha aromas and flavors. At the same time, it’s very balanced and elegant; it’s noteworthy that it received higher scores from the Wine Enthusiast than it did from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. It could easily age for another five to seven years. It’s $35 and you can even taste it on September 13, when Chris will be pouring this wine and his new releases from the 2012 vintage at our shop from 3 to 5 pm.
2011 Lauren Ashton, Cuvee Mirabelle
This winery also has a community college connection, since the winemaker, Kit Singh, has been an instructor at our own South Seattle Community College’s Northwest Wine Academy. Like Jon Martinez from Maison Bleue, Kit was a successful dentist who got the winemaking bug. He studied at UC Davis, and then, like Chris Peterson, worked at Delille and founded a Woodinville winery. He sourced the fruit for this wonderful blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre mostly from Ambassador and Den Hoed, both top Yakima vineyards. As you can tell from the extensive list of food pairings on the label, he is also more interested in the expressiveness of the wine than raw power. Sean Sullivan of the Washington Wine report was so impressed by this wine and Kit’s other inaugural releases that he wrote, “These new releases move Lauren Ashton straight to the front of the class.” The Cuvee Mirabelle is $52 and will develop for at least another two to three years in your cellar.