2014 Avennia, Arnaut Boushey Syrah, $49.75
Winery info: Avennia is a relatively young winery, but after its first release in 2012 it quickly became hailed as one of the state’s “rising stars” and is now considered one of the top wineries in the state. Co-founders Chris Peterson and Marty Taucher met at DeLille Cellars where Chris had been assistant winemaker for seven years. Their goal in establishing Avennia was to make wines that evoke clarity of place, of type, and of purpose.
Winemaker: Chris Peterson, one of the first graduates of Walla Walla Community College’s Enology and Viticulture program (where he stayed on as teaching assistant to the legendary Stan Clarke for several years).
Grapes: 100% Syrah. The wine is named for the Provençal troubadour, Arnaut Daniel, who invented the sestina poem form.
Vineyard source: Boushey Vineyard, managed by the renowned grape grower, Dick Boushey, who supplies fruit to some of the top winemakers in the state.
Flavor profile: The winemaker’s notes describe it perfectly: with its seductive and complex aromas, it is “very intense and nuanced on the palate, intermingling the pure dark fruits of the vintage with the complex meat and mineral notes of the vineyard.”
Production/Availability: 434 cases produced. As the current vintage, it should be in good supply for a while.
Drinkability: Try to give it a year or two, if you can wait. It will continue to evolve in the cellar for up to 15 years.
Food Pairing: Great with duck dishes.
2012 Lauren Ashton Cellars, Cuvée Estelle, $32
Winery info: Kit Singh, a former dentist, studied at UC Davis and then interned at DeLille before founding Lauren Ashton in Woodinville in 2009. Since then, Lauren Ashton has been lauded as one of the state’s most exciting new wineries, thanks to Kit’s skill and passion as a winemaker.
Winemaker: Kit Singh
Grapes: 55% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot
Vineyard source: Columbia Valley vineyards, including, Dineen, Weinbau, and Ambassador.
Flavor profile: A rich, focused Right Bank-style blend, with notes of dark red fruits, a touch of oak, and a long, satisfying finish.
Production/Availability: Although this wine is pretty limited, there is still some of this vintage available.
Drinkability: Anytime over the next ten years.
Food Pairing: As the label suggests, this wine would pair perfectly with grilled meats or roast duck, or you could enjoy it on its own.