Tasting Wine · Washington Wines

Januik Riesling and Novelty Hill Merlot Tasting Notes

Novelty Hill 2008 Columbia Valley MerlotContinuing my education, I recently did a tasting trip with my brother Seth.  We went to Woodinville to try a few more Washington wines.

Our first stop was Novelty Hill/Januik. From my understanding, Michael Januik used to be the Winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle.  I really liked those wines so I was eager to try out his offerings.

The tasting room was sleek and very modern – lots of stainless steel and open space. While neither winery grows their own grapes, they do make the wines on premise.  Behind walls of glass, visitors can see the barrel room and the tank room – pretty cool really.

I did learn the mystery behind all the different vineyard names included with each wine. Apparently, those are the names of the vineyards the grapes are sourced from.  The winery itself doesn’t necessarily own the vineyard, but they are giving credit to it on the bottle.  I also learned from the lady pouring our wine that only about 20% of wineries in Washington State grow their own grapes.

We did a flight of four ($7), which included:

  • Novelty Hill 2010 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
  • Januik 2010 Bacchus Vineyard Riesling
  • Novelty Hill 2008 Columbia Valley Merlot
  • Januik 2009 Lewis Vineyard
  • We also got a bonus pour of their Late Harvest Sauvignon

Two of the five really stood out to me, the Riesling and the Merlot.

The Januik 2010 Bacchus Vineyard Riesling was pale and light in color.  It had a sweet, fruity (stone fruit) nose and the palette left you with a stone fruity (peaches), mildly sweet taste.  I hate to say it, but it wasn’t overly remarkable and I wasn’t sure what you would drink the wine with. Our host mentioned that it was a good pairing with spicy Thai food.  Anytime anyone mentions Thai food, I am in, so I bought a bottle to try.

That night we opened the bottle to enjoy with our spicy Phad Thai.  She was right, the pairing was nice.  The hot of the food was chilled nicely by the mild sweet of the cool wine.  I can’t honestly say it was so great that I would buy another bottle, but I did enjoy the pairing.

The Novelty Hill 2008 Columbia Valley Merlot was given 90 points from Wine Advocate.  I learned the best possible is 100, so 90 points is pretty good!

The wine was a clear ruby-red with a nose of cherry and warm cooked fruits.  However, for me the taste was a bit bitter (apparently those are tannins I was tasting).  It still had the dark fruit flavors, but the bitterness was a bit much for me. I am not sure if that was due to the fact that I had a Riesling right before, which was a bit sweeter or if maybe Merlots aren’t for me, but I was a little disappointed by the bitterness.

So, I think my next step is to learn a little more about Merlot, as well as about the pointing system. To see how and who decides the points.

Novelty Hill/Januik Barrel Room




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