2016 Avennia, Cabernet Franc, Champoux Vineyard, $49.75
Winery info: Avennia 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. They released their first vintage in 2012 and the winery quickly garnered attention as one of the state’s rising stars. Today Avennia is considered one of the top wineries in Washington. Chris was named Seattle Magazine’s 2017 Winemaker of the Year.
Winemaker: Chris Peterson. He was one of the first graduates of Walla Walla College’s Enology and Viticulture program, and stayed on for several years as teaching assistant to the legendary Stan Clarke.
Grapes: 100% Cabernet Franc
Vineyard source: Champoux Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.
Flavor profile: Chris usually uses the Cab Franc fruit he gets from the legendary Champoux Vineyard “as a spice” in his Bordeaux-style blends. But because of its amazing character and complexity, he decided to produce this limited bottling as a single varietal. It is wonderfully concentrated and textured with great balance and rich, layered flavors of dark cherry, savory herbs, and a touch of forest floor.
Production/Availability: This wine is very limited and the winery is already sold out.
Drinkability: While delicious now, Chris says it should continue to please for up to ten years.
Food Pairing: A nice rib eye, herb crusted lamb, or dishes with seasonal mushrooms.
2015 Love That Red Winery, “Seattle Slew” Cabernet Sauvignon, $38
Winery info: We’d never heard of this winery when Terry Wells came in to sample us on his wines recently, and weren’t sure what to make of the horse racing theme. But the wines spoke for themselves. Love That Red, founded in 2013, is named for a racehorse Terry’s father once owned (in turn named for a much-loved Revlon lipstick color) and encapsulates the family’s passion for horse racing and red wines. While they do produce a Rosé, their focus is on red wines, blended from a variety of top vineyard sites in the state. This wine honors Triple Crown-winning racehorse, Seattle Slew.
Winemaker: Terry Wells, an alumnus of the Northwest Wine Academy
Grapes: 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with 17% Petit Verdot and 8% Syrah, and aged 26 months in French and American oak, a mix of new and neutral.
Vineyard source: Discovery, DuBrul, Red Willow, and Stone Tree vineyards.
Flavor profile: Very smooth and inviting, with great texture and structure and full-bodied flavors of dark fruit, black tea, and a hint of dark chocolate. With balanced notes of toasty oak from the barrel aging
Production/Availability: 300 cases made. Terry says it probably won’t be around much past the fall.
Drinkability: Now or over the next five to seven years.
Food Pairing: Pepper steak, burgers, grilled meats, or hearty stews. Very versatile!