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.

Seattle Met Names Novelty Hill Januik Among Best Washington Wines

Novelty Hill Januik Among Best Washington WinesWashington wines critic extraordinaire Sean Sullivan has compiled his annual list of favorite Washington wines for Seattle Met magazine’s Sept. 2012 issue, and we’re pleased to be named to the list five times for the following wines, all currently available from the winery: 2009 Januik Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, both Columbia Valley; 2009 Januik Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; 2010 Januik Cold Creek Vineyard Chardonnay and 2011 Novelty Hill Estate Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. More at Seattle Met Sept 2012

 

Best Washington Wines: The 2012 List

Januik Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2009
Winemaker Mike Januik spent 10 years as head winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle before starting his eponymous winery in 1999. This is cabernet sauvignon at its most aromatic and rich with vanilla, cocoa, and dark cherry. 91 points — $30

Novelty Hill Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2009
Winemaker Mike Januik has a knack for making top-quality cabernet sauvignon at affordable prices. This appealing wine’s sweet cherry flavors are accented by vanilla, spice, and other oak notes. It’s a steal at this price. 91 points — $25 — Buy

Januik Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Champoux Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills 2009
This rare 100 percent cabernet sauvignon from one of the state’s top vineyard sites is as structured as a drill team, with chalky tannins and restrained fruit flavors. It should last in the cellar as long as you care to hold it. 91 points — $55 — Buy

Januik Chardonnay Cold Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley 2010
Though he left Ste. Michelle in 1999, winemaker Mike Januik continues to purchase grapes from the winery each year to produce this standout chardonnay. $30 — Buy

 Novelty Hill Wines Sauvignon Blanc Stillwater Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley 2011
Hailing from the winery’s estate vineyard, Stillwater Creek, this appealing sauv blanc is a riot of spices and tropical notes with a creamy feel on the tongue. $18 — Buy