2017 Avennia, Cuvee Justine, Red Blend, Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley AVA, Washington State.
The Justine Rhone Red Blend is crafted using 61% Grenache, 23% Mourvedre and 16% Syrah, making it firmly a Chateauneuf du Pape style wine with a deep saturated purple/garnet color and a full bodied palate with lush fruit density, hints of spice, soft tannins, a bit of savory earthiness and well judged wood influence with a touch of toasty sweet smoky accents. Marty Taucher is the managing partner behind Avennia, along with Chris Peterson, who was with the winemaking team at the famed DeLille Cellars, founded the winery in 2009 with a focus on terroir driven wines from top vineyard sites with classic techniques and natural winemaking a priority for their wines. The wines I’ve tasted so far have big personalities, very much in keeping with Washington’s style, they are bold and dark wines that fill the mouth with supple layering and luxurious textures. This 2017 Justine is no different and it makes a weighty impression with dark berry coulis, sweet plum, grenadine, creme de cassis leading the way along with a touch of mentioned earth, spice and mocha, making for a very pleasing wine that gets even better with hearty winter foods, it folds together with creamy and seamless opulence.

Chris Peterson, the head winemaker at Avennia, has made Avennia a winery to take notice of and has a great reputation for making quality and concentrated red that reflect the personality of the place, in this case the rolling hills of eastern Washington State’s Yakima Valley in the greater Columbia Valley AVA. The Justine, name, is inspired by one of the great heroines of recent literature, who also sprung from the imagination of the Mediterranean, as Avennia’s wine has in this case from the southern Rhone Valley with its Mediterranean influences being the guiding light for this opulent effort. The winemaking here is all about transparency with native yeast fermentation and lengthy gentle maceration(s) with the Justine seeing 16 months in just about 9% new French oak, 91% neutral French oak barrels and then bottled unfined and unfiltered. The vines used here were are from selected vineyards, including the Upland Vineyard for the Grenache, Kiona Heart of the Hill for the Mourvèdre and the Oldfield Vineyard for the Syrah, which is planted Clone 383. This was the second 2017 from Avennia that I have enjoyed, and I hear the 2018s and 2019s are even more exciting, which makes my mouth water and I am going to keep checking this winery out in the years to come, I was a huge fan of DeLille Cellars back in the day and Avennia is right up there, I also should mention that these Avennia offerings are solid values too.
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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