Making the Call to Press Off

Novelty Hill winemaker Scott Moeller describes how he knows it is time to press off red wine that is finished fermenting and move it from the tank to barrel.

Drink Pink, Save a Salmon

As every wine lover knows by now, rosés are back in vogue in a big way, and while there are many fine selections on the market this season, we think ours is extra special because for every bottle of the 2012 Spring Run Rosé purchased, Novelty Hill and Januik Winery will donate $2 to Salmon Safe, an independent certification program recognizing farming and vineyard practices that protect water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife, particularly native Northwest salmon.

And while you can feel good about your purchase supporting care of the environment, your taste buds are in for a treat too.  Bright and fragrant, the 2012 Spring Run Rosé offers delicious fresh strawberry and juicy watermelon aromas and flavors wrapped around a hint of lemon peel.  A soft, approachable wine, this blend of 54% Syrah, 26% Mourvèdre, and 20% Grenache pairs beautifully with a wide-range of foods.  Think Asian-spiced pork tenderloin or poached Dover sole.

Made from grapes grown at Novelty Hill’s estate vineyard Stillwater Creek, the winery’s ties to Salmon Safe go back to the spring of 2007 when this steep south-facing site on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills became the first Columbia Valley vineyard to earn the Salmon Safe certification.  To be approved as Salmon-Safe, Stillwater Creek had to meet a rigorous set of guidelines specific to efficient irrigation and water conservation measures; erosion control; Integrated Pest Management; and native vegetation and habitat management.

Known for its careful vineyard management and innovative clonal selection, Stillwater Creek was planted in 2000 and has quickly earned a reputation as one of Washington State’s top vineyard sites.

A limited supply of Spring Run Rosé is now available from the winery for $16 a bottle, either in the tasting room or on-line.

International Wine Community Joins Together to Help with Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

Novelty Hill is one of several Washington State wineries banding together with the international wine community to donate their best bottles and help Hurricane Sandy victims still reeling from the devastating impact of last fall’s unforgettable super storm.

Devine Intervention,”an on-line auction organized by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) Wine Director and Master Sommelier John Ragan, opened yesterday and runs through April 7.  There is no buyer’s premium and every penny of each lot goes directly to The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City’s Hurricane Sandy Relief and Recovery efforts.

“After Hurricane Sandy, the community of New York City restaurant employees worked hard to get our restaurants and our lives back to normal, but many of our fellow New Yorkers are still suffering from the aftermath of Sandy,” said USHG Wine Director John Ragan. “Although the storm may have since slipped out of the headlines, this is when many New Yorkers need our help the most.”

Solicited by invitation, approximately 250 lots will be donated by the community of sommeliers, restaurateurs, chefs, importers, distributors, and winemakers. The auction will include a one-of-a-kind selection of extraordinary wines from renowned producers including Champagne Krug, Giuseppe Quintarelli, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Armand Rousseau, Domaine Coche-Dury, Peter Michael Winery and many more.

Novelty Hill donated two six-bottle sets of Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003-2008, a vertical collection of 90+ rated wines.  Both the 2003 and 2006 Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon were listed on Wine Spectator’s prestigious “Top 100” list.   Veteran Columbia Valley winemaker Mike Januik made all six vintages.


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.