Rave Reviews in April Wine Enthusiast; 96 pts. 2009 Januik Reserve

First, the good news:  The April 2013 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine is now on newsstands with fabulous reviews for a slew of Januik wines.   Pacific Northwest wine author and critic Paul Gregutt rated the 2009 Januik Reserve Red 96 pts., along with five other 90+ ratings.  Now the bad news:  These wines sold out quickly and are no longer available from the winery, but if you’re willing to check retail shelves, you should be still be able to find a few of these gems.  Here are highlights:

96 pts. — Januik 2009 Reserve Red (Red Mountain)
Cellar Selection — This a blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc, and all of the fruit came from old vines from two of Washington’s most revered vineyards, Champoux and Weinbau. Supple and ripe, it’s packed with a brilliant flavorful mix of berries, cherries and cassis. The tannins are polished, and the barrel-derived notes of toast, cinnamon, coffee and caramel linger through the long, smooth finish.

94 pts. — Januik 2009 Klipsun Vineyard Merlot (Red Mountain)
Cellar Selection — This vineyard-designated Merlot includes 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, also sourced from Klipsun. Classy from the get-go, this is lined with notes of graphite, mineral and cinnamon, with dense black-cherry and cassis flavors that anchor the core. Its excellent texture, depth, length and structure suggest that this can be cellared for a decade, at least.

93 pts. — Januik 2009 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Mountain)
Cellar Selection — Mike Januik’s Cabernet Sauvignons are intellectual wines. They don’t rush out to greet you with jammy, gooey flavors; instead, they are hard and compact like coiled steel. They offer potential rather than immediate pleasure. This selection is powerful and muscular, and it offers notes of metal, gravel and cassis

92 pts. —  Januik 2009 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Horse Heaven Hills)
Cellar Selection — Stiff and tannic, this wine’s bold black-cherry flavor, which is characteristic of the Champoux Vineyard, is veined with iron and gravel notes, plus a clover hint.  It’s complex and riveting, and the tannins finish with a peppery bite.

92 pts. — Januik 2009 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Syrah (Red Mountain).
Editors’ Choice — In 2008, Januik made a single-vineyard Syrah from Lewis Vineyard fruit; now the winery has sourced fruit from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, one of the superstar spots on Red Mountain. A compact wine that snaps right into focus, this offers varietal flavors of fig, berry and plum. A streak of smooth chocolate weaves through the finish, along with a hint of red licorice and underlying slate-like minerality.

91 pts — Januik 2010 Cold Creek Vineyard Chardonnay
Cellar Selection — This focused effort features fresh-cut apple and pear flavors that are spicy and tightly wrapped with a Bourbon-barrel-like accent. Delicious now, but it can be cellared for a decade at least.

2012: An Impeccable Growing Season Produces Exceptional Wines

With the 2012 reds resting comfortable in barrel; a steady cellar program underway to care for the barrel-fermented Chardonnays and  Sauvignon Blanc; the fruitier white wines, including a new Januik Muscat Canelli, finished with their long, cool fermentation; and the frenetic pace of harvest behind us, we have a moment to reflect on the 2012 Columbia Valley vintage.

Those of you who know Mike Januik are aware he is not prone to superlatives, but even he couldn’t resist tagging the 2012 harvest “perfect.”  The weather was simply amazing.  Temperatures were warm and consistent all summer and into the early fall, with none of the pesky heat spikes or atypical rain that kept winemakers on their toes in 2010 and 2011.  As winemaker Scott Moeller noted, “The 2012 harvest instilled a renewed sense of normalcy to the crew.  Given the erratic picking schedule of the last two vintages, it was refreshing – not to mention less stressful – to harvest grapes on a more traditional schedule.”

Across the Columbia Valley, crop loads were well-balanced.   Small berries packed with intense flavor matured beautifully, and the resulting flavor profiles and tannin development were spot-on.  The wines have terrific natural acidity as well, in part due to the Columbia Valley’s warm fall days and cool nights.  The 2012 whites show great depth of flavor and wonderful aromatics.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are rich and complex, with integrated tannins.

At Novelty Hill’s estate vineyard, Stillwater Creek, weather conditions largely mirrored the Columbia Valley.  April was warm, May and June were cooler than usual, but summer temperatures warmed and stayed that way through harvest.  Veraison began August 8th and was complete in all varietals by August 29th with wonderful color development in the reds.  Grapes ripened quickly, and by mid-September, harvest was underway.  Hand-picked, like the Merlot shown in the photo above, arrived at the winery with terrific flavor and uncommon richness.

Now begins the waiting game.  Look for the first of the 2012 white wines next spring, with barrel fermented whites to follow later in the year.  Expect to get a first taste of this year’s red wines in 2014.  We’re betting the wait will be worth it.

Eight Highly Rated Picks in Recent Wine Spectator

Wine Spectator’s Nov. 15 and Nov. 30, 2012 issues featured eight 90+ rated wines from Januik and Novelty Hill, including 93 pts. for the 2009 Januik Reserve Red and 91 pts. and a “Smart Buy” designation for the 2009 Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley.  The new ratings now push the two wineries’ combined 90+ rated wines from Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate to 159 in total.  A limited amount of a few of these wines are still available from the winery tasting room or on-line.  Read the reviews here:

2009 Januik Reserve Red – Velvety and graceful, with well-defined blueberry, currant and roasted red pepper flavors that mingle easily against refined tannins. This has a nice transparency that lets the flavors shine through, lingering on the balanced finish.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec.  WS 11/15/12  BUY

2009 Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley – 91 pts.  SMART BUY Smooth in texture and effusive with its plum, dark berry, mint and cream flavors, rolling easily through polished tannins on the long finish.  BUY

2009 Novelty Hill Merlot, Stillwater Creek Vineyard – 91 pts.  Lean and lithe, this red focuses its blackberry, blueberry and plum fruit in a narrow beam that sails through the fine tannins and lingers expressively.  WS 11/30/12  BUY

2009 Novelty Hill Syrah, Columbia Valley – 92 pts.   Rich, focused and remarkably fresh in flavor, this big wine delivers blackberry, red plum, floral and cream character in a deftly balanced package. WS 11/30/12

2009 Januik Cabernet Franc, Weinbau Vineyard – 91 pts.  Polished, spicy and distinctive for a lovely rose petal aroma that floats through the dark berry and chocolate flavors. Fine tannins show on the finish.  WS 11/30/12

2009 Januik Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley – 91 pts. Delivers ripe, rich, unvarnished currant and cherry character on a frame balanced deftly to keep everything in bounds and nicely wrapped in fine texture. Hints at tea and spice as the finish lingers. WS 11/15/12

2009 Novelty Hill Syrah, Stillwater Creek Vineyard – 91 pts.  Supple, ripe and appealing, offering juicy blackberry and floral flavors that dance deftly past refined tannins to liven up the finish.  WS 11/30/12 2009 Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Stillwater Creek Vineyard – 91 pts.  Fresh and polished, playing plum, currant and bay leaf flavors against hints of tobacco and coffee. Finishing gracefully.  WS 11/30/12

Columbia Valley Harvest 2012: Midway Report

Oct. 5, 2012  ̶  Harvest is here and how!  We picked our first grapes on September 6th and are now at the halfway point, with an estimated three weeks to the finish line.   The weather has been picture perfect over the last month, allowing the grapes to mature beautifully and the flavor profile and tannin development is spot on.  Winemakers never like to predict a vintage too early, but so far there are plenty of smiles around the cellar.

The sunny skies and warm daytime temperatures we’ve enjoyed at the winery in Western Washington have ruled the day in Eastern Washington as well this fall.  Both here and there, nighttime temperatures have been cool, and that’s one of the great secrets to the quality of Columbia Valley wine grapes.  The warm days and cool nights this time of year allow the fruit to ripen completely, producing striking flavors and juicy acidity in the finished wine.

All our whites have now been picked and are fermenting in tank or barrel.  This weekend, we will be crushing Syrah and a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon.  If you’d like to see crush in action for yourself, Novelty Hill Januik is the place to come for a bird’s eye view.   Visitors are welcome to watch grapes move through the crusher-destemmer from the observation deck on the top floor of the winery.  The fermentation room (shown in the picture) is visible from the glass-enclosed hallway.  Watch red wine pumpovers or barrels being filled here before they are moved to the aging room.  When we have grapes to share, the cellar crew will bring up samples to the tasting bar, always a fun experience to taste just-picked fruit followed by a sip (or two) of a finished wine.

Mike Januik Looks Back on 25 Years of Washington Winemaking

Mike Januik, Washington WinemakerThe Washington Wine Commission is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012, and to mark the occasion the Commission is profiling 25 Washington State wine industry ground breakers who have been at the forefront of Washington wine over the last quarter century.  Read Leslie Kelly’s interview with Mike Januik to learn more about his career in Washington winemaking and gain insight on how his winemaking style has evolved over the years.  More at washingtonwine.org

 

Mike Januik, Januik and Novelty Hill Wineries

Mike Januik’s been called “the king of Merlot”, but that’s not a crown he’s much interested in wearing.

“I don’t want to be the king of anything,” said the soft-spoken native of California who has been making wine in Washington State since 1984. “As much as I love making wine and drinking wine, there are more important things in life. Like spending time with family, traveling and hiking on the Olympic Pennisula.”

Not that he’s crowing, but Januik has much to be proud of over the course of his long career, which began with a chance meeting on the campus at University of California-Davis, where he got his masters in enology and viticulture.