Three 2011s from Lauren Ashton Cellars

Hello friends. Sean Sullivan’s influence in Washington wine circles continues to grow. It has been a great year for the founder of Washington Wine Report, who had WWR named 2013 Best Single Subject Blog by the Wine Blog Awards and scored a plum gig reviewing parts of Washington and Oregon for Wine Enthusiast.

I was reminded of his burgeoning influence earlier this month, when I suddenly received a slew of e-mails asking when our next Lauren Ashton Cellars offer was going to be sent out. It took me about five minutes to realize that Sean’s write-up was the source of the inquiries.

Those of us who have followed him over the years know that he is reticent when it comes to effusive praise. So when he titled his post “The Extraordinary Wines of Lauren Ashton Cellars,” I think we all perked up a little. And then there was his first paragraph:

“When I sampled the inaugural releases from Lauren Ashton Cellars last year (notes here), I was considerably impressed. The new wines from the winery however, are a revelation – as impressive an across the board lineup as I’ve tasted from any winery this year along with some of the best wines I have tasted in 2013 period.”

Yikes. The whole post is worth reading, but I’m sure Sean’s praise won’t come as a surprise to our list members who have tried Kit Singh’s wines that we offered in October 2012, November 2012, and July 2013. Check out any of those offers, or Sean’s write-up, for the full background on the winery. Without question Lauren Ashton is among the buzziest entrants to emerge on the Washington scene over the past year. Today we have a thrilling threesome of Kit’s new releases:

2011 Lauren Ashton Cellars Syrah

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

A couple fascinating things about this bottle. The first is that Ambassador Vineyard is a site on Red Mountain, but it’s managed by Syrah savant Dick Boushey, so this is a fun opportunity to see Dick’s work in a different Syrah terroir. Second, Dineen is a lovely Syrah vineyard in the Yakima Valley, well-loved by our list members when it turned up in OS Winery’s 2005 and 2006 Syrahs (many moons ago). It contains a brackish salty olive funk that is unmistakable, and it shines through here. It’s a shockingly smoky Syrah considering there’s no new wood involved. That character all comes from the vineyard/varietal combination. Peaty earth, black olives, tar, and woodsmoke, to go with a core of plummy fruit. The salty-sweet balance is outstanding.

2011 Lauren Ashton Cellars Cuvee Mirabelle

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

Strong words from Mr. Sullivan on this one, a tiny-production (four barrels) Rhone blend that comes screaming out of the glass with fresh summer strawberries, cherry blossoms, garrigue, and mint. Freshness and vibrancy to spare here; this dances across the palate with its luscious Grenache fruit interplaying with mineral/spice/game notes from the Syrah and Mourvedre. Graceful winemaking indeed.

2011 Lauren Ashton Cellars Propietor’s Cuvee

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

The first two wines were all neutral barrel. Here we see Kit’s deft touch with new oak. Aromas of toast and roasted coffee (breakfast anyone?) are the lovely barrel topnotes on a core of good Cabernet blackcurrant fruit. The palate continues the theme (cassis and coffee) but adds in compelling complexities of Red Mountain ferrous mineral and Klipsun Vineyard’s notoriously chewy-delicious black tea tannins. Structure, length, intensity; all there.

Kit has picked up a distributor in Seattle, so I suspect these aren’t going to last as long as prior releases. But we’re getting in nice and early, so for now it’s first come first served up to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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