Hello friends. What a rapid evolution for Avennia. It was only three years ago that I wrote the following: 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. I wasn’t the only one enamored with the initial releases back in 2012: From Stephen Tanzer (Tanzer’s IWC): [TEXT WITHHELD]. Then from David Schildknecht (Wine Advocate): …[TEXT WITHHELD]
The winery has moved from debutante to rising star to vaguely culty in a very short time, and with this latest set of releases, they’ve reached another level in my mind: established superstars. I mean, for a wine like Arnaut (their Boushey Vineyard Syrah), this is the fourth vintage I’ve tasted. In cool vintages (2010 and 2011), in a down-the-middle vintage (2012), in a riper vintage (2013), it has impressed every single time. I tasted this current release and thought to myself: is there anyone in Washington making a better, more evocative rendition of Boushey Syrah?
And that’s not all. The entire lineup is consistently impressive. The house style retains the character of Washington’s terroir and yet presents this sense of ribald, euro-styled earthiness that is a bit more unusual in these climes. These are beautiful, ageworthy wines, and they always offer excellent value compared to their peer groups in quality.
Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”
A few quick corrections on that review. This is not actually a Boushey Vineyard wine; it’s 55% Boushey, the remainder Red Willow vineyard. And aside from the 15% concrete and 10% new wood, the remainder was neutral barrel, not stainless steel. That said, Jeb’s tasting note is great. He’s spot on with the texture. This is racy and lively indeed, two words you don’t expect to write about a 2014 vintage Sauvignon Blanc. But there you have it. This is a live-wire, full of pulsating intensity. Flavors mix stone fruit and citrus pith and mineral, with light marzipan notes complicating things further. The overall package drinks well-balanced. The fruit is dense and creamy but not fat, and it is perfectly balanced by bright acidity. This is masterful white winemaking.
The vineyards involved here are outstanding. The Grenache (47% of the blend) is predominantly Upland Vineyard’s 1999 block. The Mourvedre (38%) comes from Kiona Heart of the Hill. The Syrah (15%) from Angela’s Vineyard, the wonderful young Red Mountain site managed by Dick Boushey. Listed alc is 14.8%, and this was raised entirely in neutral oak for 16 months. Also, it includes 15% whole clusters (stems and all).
The result is this lovely Chateauneuf ringer, immediately offering its Grenache calling card with the classic trinity of aromas: brambly berry fruit, hot-rock minerality, and alluring green notes that yo-yo between classic garrigue and more funky-wonderful green olive. The texture is lush and plush, a pillowy mouthful that is almost too easy to glug. It’s a soft, silky wine, with rich fruits and rich savories to spare. Complex, generous, and delicious right out of the gate, I’m sure this will improve a bit with age, but there’s really no need to wait: it’s charmer right now on pop-and-pour.
Sean Sullivan hasn’t yet released his reviews for this set of wines, but it’s worth noting that his 93pt review for the previous 2012 vintage of Justine is as strong a review as he’s given to a Washington Rhone blend in his Wine Enthusiast career.
What more do I really need to say here? Probably not much, considering this is always the most limited/allocated of Avennia’s releases. As I mentioned above, I see this as a contender for the finest version of Boushey Syrah produced in the state, and since Boushey is one of the finest vineyards in the state for Syrah, that’s saying something. The 2012 was showered with accolades: a 96pt review from Jeb Dunnuck in Wine Advocate, a 95pt review from Sean Sullivan in Wine Enthusiast (that’s a huge number for Sean) and the #5 spot in his Seattle Met Top 100 (the top 4: Horsepower, Cayuse, Cayuse, Horsepower). From the look of things, the 2013 promises more of the same. Here’s Dunnuck’s barrel review from Wine Advocate: [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]
As Jeb mentions, this comes from Boushey’s two oldest blocks, one planted in 1994, the other 1996. It offers umami notes for days (smoked ham hock, black olive, kombu), which perfectly offset the pure marionberry fruit tones and the candied violet florals. There’s a fecundity to this wine that is so attractive. You want to bury your nose and sniff over and over for all the naughty savories. And of course, because it’s Chris Peterson at the helm, the texture is perfect: polished, supple, with perfect palate weight and zero excess fat. This really is Boushey fruit at its best, terroir expression at its finest. Bravo.
Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of each wine, 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 ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.