2017 Avennia, Syrah “Arnaut” Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington State.
I was really excited to try Avennia’s wines, I had heard great these about these wines and Chris Peterson, Winemaker, and I was not disappointed, this 2017 Avennia Arnaut Boushey Vineyard Syrah is a beautiful and deep wine with lovely detailing and exceptional purity of flavors. Most people agree Dick Boushey’s vines are some of the best in Washington and a Cru site in the Yakima region near the town of Grandview on the southern slopes of the Rattlesnake Mountains. The vineyards, farmed by Boushey, who is one of the top viticulturists in the United States, started planting back in 1980 with a number of distinct parcels that are generally south-facing slopes that rise from 700 to 1200 ft. The Syrah came later, Boushey came to realize that his site was cooler than Red Mountain and that Syrah would do well, so he added Syrah in 1993 to great effect, becoming one of the most coveted growers in the state. Peterson’s 2017 Boushey Syrah is wonderfully balanced for a full bodied wine with smooth layers of classic Syrah markers with crushed blackberries, dark plum, blueberry and morello cherry fruits along with a touch of bacon, graphite, creme de cassis, cedar, fig paste, mocha, anise and peppery spices, adding pretty floral notes with air and all wrapped up in a style that isn’t too different from Guigal’s polished and lush Cote-Rotie.

The Avennia Arnaut, named for the Provencal Troubadour Arnaut Daniel, who invented the Sestina poem form, which has a special meaning to Peterson, has ripe tannins and has retained some juicy acidity that gives this wine a sense lithe charm that allows the dense concentration to not feel heavy on the palate, it really makes this complex wine come across elegantly and with a pleasing energy. Still youthful, this 100% Syrah looks to have an excellent future ahead of it, though as good as it is already, I cannot see many people being too patient and especially as its fruit is so attractive and entertaining now. Chris Peterson really did his best to let the vineyard speak here, noting that he made this wine with minimal manipulation, using native yeasts, employing about 15% whole cluster in the fermentation, raising it with just 15% new French oak for 16 months in barrel, bottling it unfined and unfiltered, as he adds, to allow the “place” to shine through. This wine has a stellar reputation and track record with the critics, so it was great to see its performance in the glass for myself, and I will also say its day two being open brought out even more expressiveness, both in fruit and savory elements, and completeness, while drinking with an almost Pinot like grace, impressive stuff. Coming in at 14.7% natural alcohol, I was a bit worried it would be a touch hot, but I was happily surprised that was not the case and it went great with even lighter food choices, I look forward to trying more Avennia soon.
($60 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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