It’s been a while since we last hosted a virtual wine tasting here at Steve’s, so it’s about time to get another one on the calendar.
I’m excited to have one my favorite wineries from Washington for this next tasting event. Joining us will be Winemaker, Andrew Januik. We have been enjoying the Januik wines for many years, well before they were even distributed in retail or restaurants here in the Texas region. We first tasted the Januik wines while visiting friends in Houston and they raved about the wine. After drinking through a few bottles, when we arrived back home, we called up the winery and joined their wine club.
Andrew, the son of Mike Januik who started the winery, will be our featured speaker for this tasting event.
Mike and Carolyn Januik established Januik Winery in 1999. It was the realization of a dream that took hold in 1980 when the couple sold their Ashland, Oregon wine shop for Mike to study winemaking at UC Davis.
After graduation, the Januiks moved to Washington to be closer to family. California friends thought it was a risky move. Washington wines were largely unknown. But over the ensuing decades, Mike proved them wrong. He crushed his first grapes in Washington in 1984 and quickly developed a reputation for quality winemaking just as the state’s reputation for world-class wines began to take hold.
The Novelty Hill and Januik partnership began in 2000, shortly after Mike began consulting on the planting of the Alberg family’s Stillwater Creek Vineyard on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills in Washington State’s Columbia Valley. Though an uncharted growing region at the time, Mike liked what the site offered and was intrigued by the Albergs’ interest in planting a diverse selection of clones. He encouraged the family to consider making wine from the site; they agreed, provided Mike serve as winemaker. Novelty Hill was born.
From the start, it has been a family-run operation. In the fall of 2009, Andrew Januik joined his dad in the cellar full-time. Today, he collaborates with Mike and winemaker Scott Moeller on all aspects of production in addition to crafting his own label, Andrew Januik Wines, launched in 2011.
2017 Bacchus Vineyard Riesling - at Januik Winery, they believe single vineyard wines should only be made when a particular site yields an exceptional wine that reflects the unique character of the vineyard. Bacchus Vineyard is located outside Pasco on a southwest facing slope which overlooks the Columbia River. Planted at Bacchus Vineyard are two of Germany’s best Riesling clones, Geisenheim 198 and Neustadt 90, from which our Riesling is made.
Bright and refreshing, the Bacchus Vineyard Riesling is brimming with apricot, peach and grapefruit flavors and aromas. Punctuated with mineral notes, the finish is crisp, balanced and lingering.
2017 Novelty Hill Chardonnay – Stillwater Creek Vineyard (Ten Vintage have been rated 90+)
91 pts. Wine Enthusiast, Editor’s Choice - “Beautifully balanced flavors.”
Round and generous, this barrel-fermented Chardonnay offers fresh pear and crisp apple aromas and flavors that echo across the palate and wrap around a rich, creamy finish. Sur lie aged for added mouthfeel and richness.
Novelty Hill’s Stillwater Creek estate vineyard is located on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills in Washington State’s Columbia Valley. The fractured basalt found throughout the site imparts an appealing mineral character to Chardonnay planted here. Innovative clonal selection distinguishes the vineyard as well, including Entav clone 95, a relative newcomer to the Columbia Valley.
2017 Novelty Hill Royal Slope Red Blend
A delicious Merlot-based blend from top Columbia Valley vineyards
From Novelty Hill's Stillwater Creek estate vineyard and other top Columbia Valley sites comes this delicious, medium-bodied red. It is an aromatic wine with mouth-watering layers of wild berries, sweet cherry and black currant. Balanced and lively across the mid-palate, with a fresh, fruit-forward finish that lasts.
Blend: 46% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc
2017 Novelty Hill Syrah Columbia Valley - 91 pts. Jeb Dunnuck - "This is classic Syrah all the way."
A classic Washington State Syrah with aromas of coffee bean, smoked meat and dark fruit gaining focus on the palate. Wild blackberry, dark plum and savory notes of olive and black pepper are woven throughout, with refined tannins adding dimension across a long, flavorful finish.
Planted in 2000 on a steep, south-facing slope with one of the most elite grape clone selections in Washington State, Stillwater Creek quickly earned a reputation as one of the Columbia Valley’s top vineyards. Clones 1, 99, 174 and Joseph Phelps are grown here, making Stillwater Creek home to one of the most diverse Syrah clone selections in Washington.
2016 Januik Merlot Klipsun Vineyard - 90+ pts. 12 years running
Among the great vineyards of Washington State, Klipsun ranks right at the top. Wine & Spirits Magazine has named it one of the 25 greatest vineyards in the world. Located in the Red Mountain appellation, it produces wines with great power, depth, and concentration. The wines from this vineyard tend to be very long-lived.
An intensely dark ruby red color is followed by notes of raspberries, blackberries, and spice. On first impression, it becomes apparent that this wine is one that will age beautifully for many years to come. The nicely proportioned palate shows tremendous length as well as an abundance of spice and fruit as it evolves in the glass.
2016 Januik Cabernet Columbia Valley
98% Cabernet Sauvignon; 2% Merlot
This supple, bold Cabernet Sauvignon is loaded with red and black fruit flavors as well as plum, mocha and cedar notes in the nose. Its texture is quite refined and shows great structure across the palate, imparting a long, ample finish that was developed in part from the use of new French Oak barrels.
It's July, and it's the month we recognize the official birth of the United States. We recognize that we are a country built on people who have come to this land from many other countries. So this month we do a salute to 8 different countries, past and present, through wine.
Call to order your tasting to-go 940-514-1852
In our trip around the world we begin with the premier grape of South Africa: Chenin Blanc. This extremely versatile grape accounts for 18% of total acreage, and is made into just about any style you can imagine. As such, many regions have some amount of Chenin Blanc growth, but for this month we will be looking to the Southwest region of Swartland; a relatively new area with a particular focus on more savory examples of the grape. The 2019 Storm Point, named after the ‘Cape of Storms’ moniker once bestowed upon the ‘Cape of Good Hope’ showcases this focus extremely well. It pours a clear pale straw with light yellow hues. The nose is wonderfully fresh, with notes of florals, citrus zest, and salinity. The palate follows suit with restrained stone fruit notes and elderflower. This is all contained within a light, crisp texture with bright acidity; likely the result of the winemaker’s choice to avoid malolactic fermentation. The salinity and nuance of this wine makes it an ideal candidate for clean, grilled seafood and shellfish.
With the more well-known wine regions of the world, we made an effort to bring in varietals off of the beaten path; case and point, New Zealand Pinot Gris. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay compose the bulk of white varietal growth in NZ by a wide margin, but the same characteristics that make it such a haven for fragrant, bright Sauvignon Blanc make it a haven for Pinot Gris as well. Wairarapa, located on the most Southern point of the North island, displays the cooler climate characteristics of the South island, which makes for an extremely fragrant version of this Burgundy mutation. This Pinot Gris pours a pale straw with light green hues, exploding with notes of melon, ripe pear, and grapefruit. The palate yields a plethora of tropical fruits accented by lively acidity and minerality. The fruit in this wine makes it an ideal candidate for Thai cuisine or even sushi!
We know Portugal for the production of fortified wines such as Port and Madeira along with the almost innumerable grapes that go into their production, but many of these grapes are also used to produce long-lived, well-structured dry wines. Coming from the Lisboa ‘Vinho Regional’, the PAXIS “Bulldog” is a largely equal blend of Touriga Nacional (too-REE-ga nah-syo-NAHL), Touriga Franca (too-REE-ga f-RAN-ka) and Tinto Roriz (tin-toh ror-ij); the latter of which is a local iteration of Tempranillo. This wine does an excellent job of showing the potential of these grapes in a fresher, untouched context. The 2013 vintage pours a rich garnet with purple hues. Time has not muted a rich bouquet of fresh cherries and raspberries accented by savory spice. The tannins have smoothed into a velvety consistency, surrounding a core of rich dark blue and black berries with noted minerality. This wine is in its optimal window, so pair it with grilled red meats and hearty vegetables like asparagus.
Often known for Malbec and Torrontes, Argentina boasts an impressive selection of grape varieties used in the production of fine wine. Not far behind in Malbec in the red department, is Bonarda. Believe or not, there is a solid chance that you have already experienced this grape, as it has become popular for blending in a multitude of large-production red blends, generally under the name of Charbono. The minds behind this rendition, Hector and Pablo Durigutti, were key figures in the establishment of Argentina as the top producer of high quality Malbec, and have since shifted their focus to a holistic catalogue of grape varieties in their eponymous catalog in order to further the winegrowing profile of Argentina. Drawing from some of the highest quality subregions of Mendoza and San Juan, this Bonarda is an excellent example of the grape's potential. It pours a rich purple color with blue hues, yielding lush blue fruits accented by notes of five spice and cinnamon. Rich notes of black cherry and plum are woven seamlessly with mocha and mint, creating a nuanced and decadent wine. This wine screams for a plate of short ribs or venison.
With regards to wine production and distribution, Turkey is relatively self-contained, with much of the resulting wine remaining within its borders (Something that will likely change as its wine laws become more integrated with the EU standards). Kavaklidere has been one of the lone forces bringing Turkish wine to the masses, with a massive portfolio of different lines utilizing both non-indingenous and native grapes. One of the latter is Narince ( Nair-inj-uh), one of the more prominent white varieties. The 2018 vintage of their Ancyra line pours a brilliant light yellow with white hues. The nose yields bright notes of mandarin, peach, and fragrant florals. The palate will reward lovers of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay lovers alike, with fresh peach, Meyer lemon cut by zingy acidity and minerality. The Ancrya line is named after the latin term for anchor or Ankyra, so use this to “anchor” a dish of meaty octopus or grilled chicken.
Though generally not thought of as the European king/queen of cold-climate Pinot Noir, Germany has rapidly gained a reputation for producing focused, savory, and approachable renditions. They generally fall into a lighter category, sharing many characteristics with those produced in New Zealand and the most savory examples from Oregon. The advantage Germany’s renditions have over these is an established and notoriously rigorous classification system, which puts the AOC and DOC systems of France and Italy respectively to shame. This system is why Germany is seen as one of the more consistent quality wine-producing regions in the world, and this wine displays that perfectly. The ‘Daily August’ pours a medium ruby with light purple hues. The nose explodes with notes of dried cherry and currant accented by ‘green’ notes of red pepper and earth. The palate is a luscious exercise in ripeness balanced with structure, with ripe cherry and cola notes balanced by well-integrated tannins and balanced acidity, resulting in a complex red that you can enjoy during any time of the year. Pair this with a savory dish focused on various mushrooms.
As the Texas wine scene continues to develop its standing among the winegrowing scene in the US, it is becoming clear which grape varieties work well within the state’s climate and geography. Mourvedre, a grape notorious for its late ripening and budding tendencies, works extremely well in this unforgiving climate, and many winemakers have taken notice. There is a developing plethora of styles ranging from austere examples resembling something closer to red Burgundy to rich, ripe roses layered with notes of bubblegum and cotton candy. A recent addition to this pool is the ‘Texoir’ line developed by Lost High Plains, whose goal is to display the potential of single-varietal, hot-climate wines from the Texas High Plains AVA. The 2018 Mourvedre pours a dark ruby to purple color with a nose filled with reduced blue fruits, earth, and smokiness. The palate is intensely focused and ever-evolving, beginning with a core of plum and blackberry, and eventually evolving into a finish of mocha and smoky wood notes; all enrobed in well-integrated tannins. This is an unmistakably rich wine that can be enjoyed now or 3 years from now with rich braised lamb or beef dishes.
First, can we talk about how cool it is you are about to enjoy a wine that has aged beautifully since 2007? Back to the wine; WAY down on the list of varieties grown in Spain are the grapes of Bordeaux. Despite this, many of the highest quality wines of Spain use Bordeaux varieties to balance with Tempranillo; perhaps most notably in the fabled Vega-Sicilia portfolio. Many wineries have continued this trend by producing blends composed completely of these varieties, including the Los Aljibes, which uses a blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc aged for 12 months in a combination of American and French oak. It pours a lovely garnet with purple/red hues. Ripe cherry, raspberry, and red plum are woven with cinnamon and five spice on the nose. The palate is rich and full-bodied with lush red and blue fruit accented by bittersweet chocolate, granite, and oak. Time has softened the velvety tannins and acidity, leaving a complex, impeccably balanced wine to accompany ribeye or venison.
So come join us this month and taste through all of these wines.
Gold club members can add-on the Platinum tasting for only $10 a person.
For those who are not club members, you can still join us for tasting. The Gold Club Tasting may be purchased for $15 a person, and the Platinum Club is available at $20 a person. If you are feeling adventurous, you may try all 8 wines for $30.