Januik’s New Red Mountain Cab
Despite the exponential growth of Washington vineyards in the last decade, Washington wine remains a tight-knit group of industry veterans. Mike Januik has been making wine in the Columbia Valley since 1984, and it is his enduring relationships with the state’s top growers that have given him access to some of Washington’s best grapes since the winery’s founding in 1999.
From the beginning, Januik’s vineyard-designated wines have read like a roll-call of Washington’s finest sites: Champoux, Ciel du Cheval, Weinbau, Klipsun and Cold Creek, among others. Now add the 2018 Januik Quintessence Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon to the list, a wine with ties to the people who grow the grapes that predates the vineyard planting by two decades.
Long before Quintessence Vineyard co-owner Dick Shaw set his sights on Red Mountain, Mike purchased Wahluke Slope grapes from Dick in 1987. A few years later, Mike worked with vineyard manager Marshall Edwards, first at Canoe Ridge Estate and later at Cold Creek, before Marshall joined Dick to plant Quintessence in 2010. Mike was an early supporter of the project, attracted as much by the pair’s commitment to quality as the site’s south-facing orientation on Red Mountain. And since the first harvest in 2012, the grapes have been exceptional.
As the vineyard has come into its own, Quintessence has become an important source for Januik Cabernet Sauvignon. Tiny Red Mountain yields powerhouse Cabs. One of the warmest growing regions in the state, it is known for its patchwork of deep, sandy soils left in the wake of an Ice Age flood more than 10,000 years ago. Quintessence stretches across 300 acres, rising 661 ft at its base to 1,106 at its peak, with varied silt and sandy loam soils found throughout the vineyard.
Januik harvests nine blocks of Quintessence Cabernet planted with six clones, each its own expression of the terroir. Fermented and aged in small blocks to provide for maximum flexibility at the blending table, the wine is knit together by three common threads: aromatics, structure and mouthfeel. Block 8, clone 4 is Mike’s favorite and plays a starring role in the vineyard designate release.
“The old adage that great wine is made in the vineyard is true,” says Mike. “When you the plant the right variety in the ideal location and you have an expert like Marshall managing for seasonal variations, the results are remarkable. My job is to let the wine tell its own story.”
The debut vintage of the 2018 Januik Quintessence Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon offers perfumed, complex aromas of black currant, ripe blueberry, violets, talc and spice. On the palate, this wine exemplifies the typicity of the Red Mountain AVA with both elegance and power. A bold, dense and layered core of dark fruit, mineral, spice and chocolate echo on the lengthy, balanced finish. Enjoy now, or cellar with confidence. $50