Debut Release of Super Tuscan-Style Red
The inaugural release of Novelty Hill’s 2018 Il Corvo is a wine the Alberg family and winemaker Mike Januik have been imagining for years. Tom Alberg, whose family owns the winery, first developed a taste for Chianti Classico in college. Later, he grew to love Super Tuscans, a detail of special interest to Mike Januik whose background includes winemaking with one of the world’s foremost Super Tuscan producers.
In the mid-1990s while Mike was winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle, Italy’s Piero Antinori came to the Columbia Valley to make a wine from Washington’s Columbia Valley vineyards. Working with Antinori’s winemaker Renzo Cotarella, Mike crafted the 1997 debut vintage of Col Solare. Fast-forward 20 years.
Knowing the Alberg family’s fondness for Super Tuscans, Mike suggested a Cabernet Sauvignon-Sangiovese blend relying on grapes from two powerhouse vineyards, Novelty Hill’s Royal Slope estate vineyard Stillwater Creek and Red Mountain’s Quintessence Vineyard. The winery’s estate Cab gives Il Corvo structure and vibrancy. Red Mountain’s Quintessence Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon adds dark fruit, concentrated power, and bold tannins. Stillwater Creek Sangiovese brings classic wild berry and spice to the finished blend, and a small amount of estate Merlot rounds out the mid-palate with a touch of sweetness. A blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Sangiovese and 4% Merlot, the 2018 Il Corvo ($45) showcases the ripe, balanced character of the vintage, a growing season marked by wines with excellent natural acidity and rich tannins. It is drinking beautifully now and also offers the promise of enjoyment for years to come.
The wine’s Italian name Il Corvo can be translated as “crow” or “raven.” Tom explains the bird has a special meaning to his family. “Ravens are very smart and known as tricksters. Our two youngest children, Carson and Jess, grew up with the classic Northwest Native American story of How Raven Stole the Sun. They insisted we read it frequently and even today we can all recite it from memory.”
Those familiar with Novelty Hill’s estate-grown Sangiovese will recognize the defining character of this grape in Il Corvo. Enjoy the wine on its own or pair with a classic Bistecca alla Fiorentina or a tomato-based lasagna. Buon appetito!