2016 Mark Ryan, Lost Soul Syrah, $49.75
Winery info: Mark Ryan McNeilly began making wine in 1999, working in various garages and warehouses before finally settling into Woodinville in 2003. He is now based in Woodinville’s Hollywood area. Mark’s goal from day one has been to make delicious, handcrafted wines that represent the vineyard from which they come and the character of the varietal.
Winemaker: Mark Ryan McNeilly and Mike MacMorran
Grapes: 100% Syrah, aged 30 months in 20% new 500-liter French oak barrels.
Vineyard source: Two distinct blocks of Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA.
Flavor profile: After experimenting with extended barrel aging on their 2015 Lost Soul Syrah with great success, they decided to continue that oak program with this vintage. The result is a dark, savory medium-bodied wine, with lovely aromas and flavors of red fruit, herbs and violets. Very elegant and textured.
Availability: 555 cases produced. It should be around for a few more months, but the 2017 has already been released.
Drinkability: Drinking nicely now, it will continue to evolve up to 2022 or so.
Food Pairing: Great with lamb or other roasted or braised meats.
2017 Avennia, Justine, $39.75
Winery info: Chris Peterson worked for many years at DeLille Cellars before launching Avennia. His Woodinville-based winery began garnering much attention, locally and nationally, soon after its first release in 2012, and quickly earned a reputation as one of the state’s rising stars. Chris strives to make wines that evoke clarity of place, of type, and of purpose and he was named Seattle Magazine’s 2017 Winemaker of the Year.
Winemaker: Chris Peterson
Grapes: 61% Grenache, 23% Mourvèdre, and 16% Syrah, Clone 383, aged 16 months in 80% neutral French oak and 20% concrete.
Vineyard sources: Upland (Grenache), Kiona Heart of the Hill (Mourvèdre), and Oldfield (Syrah), all in the Yakima Valley AVA.
Flavor profile: This wine reflects Chris’s belief that Washington can produce world class blends from southern Rhône grape varieties. Like its namesake (“a heroine from recent literature”), he describes Justine as “dark, seductive, and complex, with a chasm of depth.” It is smooth and silky, with elegant hints of forest floor, and herbs.
Availability: 315 cases produced. This vintage is beginning to get low.
Drinkability: It is delicious now, or you could let it further develop up to around 2025.
Food Pairing: Perfect for savory foods such as roasted game, herb-scented chicken skewers, cured meats, or dishes with seasonal mushrooms.