2014 Lauren Ashton Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, $57
Winery Info: Former dentist Kit Singh studied at UC Davis and then interned at DeLille before founding his own winery, Lauren Ashton (named his for his children, Lauren and Ashton) in Woodinville in 2009.
Since then Lauren Ashton has gained a reputation as one of the state’s most exciting new wineries, thanks to Kit’s skill, meticulous attention to detail, and passion as a winemaker.
Winemaker: Kit Singh
Grapes: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in new and used French oak
Vineyard: Mostly from Quintessence and Ambassador vineyards in the Red Mountain AVA
Flavor Profile: Now with a bit of age on it, this Cab has had a plenty of time for its complex flavors of dark, ripe fruit, spice, and touch of earth to develop nicely. It is a rich, nuanced, wine, with refined texture, soft, well-integrated tannins, and balancing acidity.
Availability: The distributor has just a few cases left of this vintage.
Drinking Window: While it is delicious now, with some time to breathe or a good decanting, we recommend enjoying this one over the next three to five years.
Food Pairing: As the label notes, this wine is perfect for red meat, lamb, or even Gorgonzola cheese.
2016 Baer Winery, Star Merlot, $35
Winery Info: Founded by Lance Baer in 2000. His production grew steadily and he was gaining much recognition for his wines when, in May of 2007, he passed away at the age of 39. But his family stepped in to carry his dream forward and, with the expertise of winemaker Erika Orr, they have continued to produce the wines Lance lovingly created and to slowly and carefully expand the line-up.
Winemaker: Erica Orr
Grapes: 100% Merlot, aged 22 months in 23% new French oak.
Vineyard: Stillwater Creek, a steep, south-facing vineyard on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills. Royal Slope is Washington’s newest AVA.
Flavor Profile: This Merlot is very smooth, complex, and elegantly structured. It has aromas and flavors of rich, ripe, red fruit, baking spice, and a hint of herbs, all of which is beautifully developed and integrated, and continues to evolve as the wine opens up. It’s a delicious example of why Merlot has been credited as being the grape that put Washington wines on the map, and how exceptional Washington Merlots can be.
Availability: 597 cases produced. This vintage is still in good supply.
Drinking Window: Enjoy now or over the next couple of years.
Food Pairing: This wine is quite versatile, and would pair well with a wide range of meats or savory rice or pasta dishes.