Three from Avennia

Hello friends. Back in May, I wrote: “I had a chance recently to taste upcoming releases from an exciting new winery called Avennia. The winemaker is Chris Peterson, of DeLille fame, and his partner is long-time Full Pull list member Marty Taucher. The wines were the most exciting new releases from a debutante winery that I have tasted in some time. While it is likely that we will be able to offer a small parcel of the wines after they’re released this fall, the wise Washington wine lover would do well to get on the Avennia mailing list as soon as possible. The project has all the makings of a winery that will have a closed mailing list soon enough.”

Since then, I have been biding my time and waiting for the release of these beauties. Now that time has come, and we are indeed able to offer small parcels of each of the releases.

[Quick reminder, as we get into allocated fall release season, of our own allocation schema: We favor breadth over depth, so that everyone gets one bottle before anyone gets two. And our formula for prioritizing allocations includes overall orders, frequency of orders, recency of orders, and list tenure, among other factors; it’s like the BCS formula, only less scrutable.]

The pace of new Washington wineries has certainly slowed in the past few years, and that only makes such a high-quality newbie that much more thrilling. There was a lot to like in that spring tasting. This is a winery with vision and focus: one set of Rhone releases in the autumn; one set of Bordeaux releases in the spring (looks like the Betz blueprint to me). Chris Peterson is a talented winemaker, and the beginnings of a house style (purity, elegance, expressiveness) were already on display at that early stage. Avennia is sourcing some of the finest fruit available in the state and offering it at tariffs that are quite competitive compared to the peer group that uses similar-quality grapes.

Note: for a deeper dive into the genesis of Avennia, consider reading Sean Sullivan’s excellent writeup from May.

Again, there are no promises for future allocations, and it’s clear that Avennia’s eventual direction will be to handle the vast majority of their sales directly through their mailing list. So consider signing up for that list, and if we have to under-allocate on any of these, they may still be available directly through the winery.

2010 Avennia Syrah “Parapine”

The first thing you need to know about Parapine: to the best of my knowledge, this is the first opportunity to try fruit from Force Majeure’s (formerly Grand Reve’s) new vineyard on the upper slopes of Red Mountain. A few years ago, I took this picture from that ankle-busting site, and all of us who care about Syrah expression in Washington have been eagerly waiting for this vineyard to come online. Force Majeure’s own bottlings can’t be far behind, but for now, this is the place to try that juice.

In Parapine, it is blended with Boushey Vineyard fruit (McPherson Block) in a 53/47 split, and it only sees a kiss of new oak (17% new French). Total production is a meager 170 cases, so this is going to be gone before we know it. The wine has a terrific sauvage character, full of wild mountain fruit. Beautifully high-toned, with raspberry fruit married to floral tones of lilac and rose. This has purity and intensity to burn.

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: **** (Excellent).”

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19/20pts.”

2010 Avennia Syrah “Arnaut” Boushey Vineyard

The flagship Syrah for the winery, this comes entirely from Boushey Vineyard. It’s a combination of Factory Road Block (shared with Betz La Serenne and Efeste Jolie Bouche) and Old Block (the source of Doug McCrea’s Grand Cote Boushey Syrah), and it must immediately be added to the list of top Syrahs to come from one of our true Grand Cru vineyard sites. Nobody grows Syrah quite like Dick Boushey, and when a confident winemaker can stay mostly out of the way, as Chris Peterson has done here, and let the vineyard sing, magic is possible.

This is all native-yeast fermented, with 15% whole cluster (stems and all), and it sees 20% new French oak. Production here is also 170 cases, so this too will go quickly, especially with the Boushey name attached. Here is the classic Boushey nose: ham hock, truffle, charcoal, and blue/purple berry fruits. There is fine balance here between rich fruity elements and sultry savories, and this has loads of intensity and interminable length.

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: **** (Exceptional).”

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19+/20pts.”

2011 Avennia Sauvignon Blanc “Oliane” Boushey Vineyard

And a little bonus wine, because who doesn’t want to see what Dick Boushey can do with Sauvignon Blanc? 100% from Boushey, it’s barrel-fermented in 10% new French oak, with native yeasts, and then aged on the lees for eight months. This is fruit that used to go into DeLille’s Chaleur Blanc, and that quality shines through. A nose of grass and melon rind gives way to a palate with fine mineral cut, citrusy acids, and lightly grassy notes. It’s a fine Sauv Blanc, intense and mouthfilling.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 18.5/20pts.”

Please limit order requests to 4 Parapine, 3 Arnaut, and 4 Oliane, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.

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