Spring came late this year where we live. If it even came at all. But good luck shone on us when we recently drove down to Woodinville, Washington and the sun did too! Which made for a very pleasant weekend of meeting with winemakers as well as returning to some of our old favourites to just relax and enjoy their wine. With the weather finally turning warm and the sun shining, we could think of no better place to be than sitting outside in the garden adjacent to the Lauren Ashton tasting room and tasting through their newly released wines.
Lauren Ashton has been one of our favourite Washington wineries since we first discovered it 8 years ago.
Kit Singh is their very thoughtful proprietor and winemaker who is crafting a wide range of wines from fruit sourced from some of the top vineyards in the state. The house style is elegant and shows traits of both the New World and the Old. The ripeness that Washington fruit attains combines with savoury elements and nuanced complexity generally found in better wines from the Old World.
We grabbed a table in the garden and positioned ourselves to face the tasting room as they had hired a live musician to entertain their guests. We arrived early and it was great to watch the people filter in and fill up the other tables, sip some wine, and just sit back and enjoy some relaxing conversation.
The garden area is very cozy and is shared with the tasting rooms next door. Big enough for maybe 30 or so people it is just the right size to have intimacy with a bit of a vibe. This afternoon’s musician was guitarist Phil Slater who was surprisingly good…definitely a level or two above what you would expect for a no admission event!
We shared several different glasses of wine so we could get a good representation of this year’s line up.
And after a day of interviewing, it was nice to just sit back and drink our wines without having to spit! It was a terrific afternoon at Lauren Ashton. The garden is beautiful and such a relaxing spot. The music was great, and best of all (and as usual), the wines were the star of the show!
This is a great spot to do some summer tasting. Check their website to see when the music will be playing and plan on arriving early. It didn’t take long for the garden to fill up with tasters who wanted to enjoy some great wine in a beautiful atmosphere and listen to some great music while they imbibed.
Tasting Notes – Current & New Releases
2020 Lauren Ashton Pinot Gris
We were really surprised by this wine. Perhaps because it’s generally not one of our go-to varieties or perhaps because it is not something we generally think of when thinking Washington (Oregon and Alsace, yes, and maybe even Italy). The notes of grapefruit and melon showed Pinot Gris typicity. The body was medium and the flavours were very intense. If looking for a comparison we found Alsace more apt than Italy, with its textured profile and lesser emphasis on the citrus notes. A great way to start off our tasting with such a refreshing wine.
Excellent (USD$25 at the tasting room)
2021 Lauren Ashton Rosé – New Release*
Rosé is the wine of summer for us and increasingly we are being drawn towards Washington for our annual fix of pink juice.
And this rosé is another good example of why we are. This year their rosé is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre, the classic grape varieties found in many of the Provence rosés that were the original standard-bearers for this style of wine. Pale salmon in colour, this is a delightfully complex wine. Lots of wet stone and mineral notes on the attack. The fruit profile leans toward strawberry and watermelon and the flavours are delivered with intensity. Medium body and medium acid, even more complexity comes through with the apple notes we pick upon the long finish. We loved it on its own, but this wine’s body and complexity make it a gastronomic wine and we think it would pair wonderfully with seafood and anything spicy; ceviche comes to mind!
Excellent (USD$21 at the tasting room)
2018 Lauren Ashton Roussanne
This wine is a perennial favourite of ours and I don’t think we have missed a single vintage since we first tasted the 2011. Nectarine and other stone fruits speak to and correctly show this variety’s character. Lots of minerality and with some air we pick up white peach notes on the finish. Medium body with medium acidity and a slightly unctuous texture make for a delicious drink. Roussanne is not a variety that’s easy to find; and this quality level at this price is really quite unheard of.
Excellent (USD $25 at the tasting room)
2015 Lauren Ashton Malbec
We really had not paid too much attention to Malbec until we visited Argentina in the fall of 2019. That experience really turned our heads. It’s great to know that Washington is doing so well with the variety. Medium red in colour this wine offers up cherry and plum notes with hints of blueberry as well. Soft, smooth and very approachable, this has great mouthfeel that comes from relatively low tannin and a medium full body. The wine literally coats your tongue in a vinous equivalent of a velvet robe.
Excellent (USD $45 at the tasting room)
2017 Lauren Ashton Cabernet Sauvignon
This terrific Cabernet Sauvignon gets fruit from the highly regarded Quintessence Vineyard on Red Mountain. Black cherry and blackberry notes are delivered on a medium+ body with medium tannins that result in another hedonistic and pleasure-driven wine. In our experience not many 100% Cabernet Sauvignons are capable of giving such a balanced and satisfying mouthfeel without assistance from the usual blending partners of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The cedar notes on the finish add some real complexity and naturally invite Bordeaux comparisons.
Excellent+ (USD $50 at the tasting room)
2015 Lauren Ashton Reserve Syrah
This is again a varietal wine (made from a single grape variety) where the fruit is sourced from Red Mountain.
From our experience with other Red Mountain wines we have often found the tannin can be pronounced and needing quite a bit of cellar time. Not the case with this Syrah nor the previous Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannin here is medium, the body is full, and the mouthfeel is soft, round and plush. The spice on the backend keeps the wine savoury and deeply satisfying. The 50% whole cluster inclusion adds structure and dimension and in our view was a very well-judged winemaking decision.
Excellent+ (USD $45 at the tasting room)
2017 Lauren Ashton Cuvée Arlette – New Release*
Just released, this is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Black cherry and raspberry come through with terrific depth. Notes of baking spices mix with subtle coffee and dark chocolate notes that really add to the complexity and overall interest level of this wine. Elegant and sophisticated this is a lovely wine that would be a great accompaniment to grilled red meat at a romantic dinner.
Excellent (USD $55 at the tasting room)
14545 148th Ave NE #211
Woodinville, Washington USA 98072
T: +1 206-504-8546