Friday, September 18, 2009

Weekend in Woodinville - Part 3 of 3

Words and Photos by Liam Carrier
Edited by Sheila MacCallum

Novelty Hill/Januik

The first boutique winery on our itinerary was the joint venture Novelty Hill/Januik. The two firms share the same winemaker, Mike Januik, who was head winemaker at Chateau Ste-Michelle for ten years prior to leaving in 1999. The partnership is handy for a winemaker who, as a result, can increase his resources and production while showcasing his own label. The two wine lists are heavy with Washington State’s signature grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. Both lists offer single-vineyard terroir-driven wines, as well as blends and entry-level labels. The distinction between the two independent wineries, who share a production facility and tasting room, is in how they source their grapes. Januik wines are made from grapes sourced from select Columbia Valley vineyards; Novelty Hill relies primarily on grapes grown on its estate vineyard, Stillwater Creek.

By this point in the day, my wife was done with wine tasting. However, she found something else at the winery to satisfy her taste buds, something more precious and appealing to her palate than wine: pizza. On the day we visited the tasting room, the winery was offering stone-oven baked pizza as a lunch specialty. She enjoyed most of the pepperoni pizza, while I tasted wine for a $10 fee:

Novelty Hill 2005 Merlot – Columbia Valley. - $22
92% Merlot; 6% Cabernet Sauvignon; 2% Petit Verdot. 87pts.

Novelty Hill 2006 Sangiovese – Stillwater Creek Vineyard. - $25
95% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Paired nicely with our pizza. 86pts.
Januik 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon – Champoux Vineyard. - $50
Wine Advocate rated the '05, '04, ’03, ’02 and ’01 vintages 93 pts, 93 pts, 94 pts, 91 ptsand 95 pts, respectively. 92pts.

Januik 2006 Reserve Red. - $65
90% Cabernet Sauvignon; 7% Cabernet Franc; 3% Malbec; 2% Merlot. Wellstructured and balanced. This wine should age nicely with its high tannins and acidity. 93pts.

Brian Carter Cellars

We finished our Woodinville wine-tasting adventure at the smallest of the day’s wineries: Brian Carter Cellars. This was a wonderful way to end the day, as BCC strive for quality over quantity, making nothing but blends - thisadds uniqueness to the tasting experience compared to a standard winery that would offer both blends and varietal-specific wines. Many of the blends mimic famous regional specialties, but the flavours are pure Washington.

BCC uses grapes sourced from a number of different vineyards in Eastern Washington and creates a number of familiar blends: Bordeaux, white Rhone Valley, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Super-Tuscan. When we visited they were tasting four wines, but, sadly, not their flagship Bordeaux blend “Solesce”, whose current release is from the 2005 vintage and retails for $58.00.

At BCC I tasted:

2006 Oriana - $24
This is the winery’s take on a Rhone Valley white blend of 45% Viognier and 35% Roussanne with 20% Riesling added to aid the acidity and aromatic notes. This is a lovely wine full of apple blossoms, apricots and tangerines; would pair nicely with spicy seafood. 89pts.

2006 Tuttorosso - $30
69% Sangiovese, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Syrah. Floral and berry notes, medium-bodied pleaser with a spicy finish. Pair with pizza or tomato-sauce pasta. 90pts.

2005 Byzance - $30
This is BBC’s take on a Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend of 57% Grenache, 22% Syrah, and 21% Mourvedre. Lots of spicy notes with a good balance of tannins and acidity. A satisfying long finish. 90pts.

2005 L’Etalon - $30
A Bordeaux-style blend of 55% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 7% Malbec. Layers of dark fruits, chocolate, leather, licorice with balanced tannins and acidity. This wine should age nicely for many years. Pair with your favourite cut of red meat when you pull it out of the cellar. 91pts.

In Conclusion

The Seattle/Woodinville wine region has a wide variety of wines and wineries to offer the consumer. It is a unique wine tasting experience for any enthusiast used to visiting Estate Wineries (like those from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia). Other wine regions could learn from this “bring not only the wine but the winery experience to the people” mentality. However, not all Washington producers follow this model, including some of the top Estate Wineries.

I very much look forward to my next trip to the Woodinville wine region as I only scratched the surface this time. There are many top producers that I have yet to visit, and many of the best wines that I have yet to taste – what a happy thought! I do have more anniversaries, both traditional and made-up, to celebrate in the years to come.

With the alcohol limit of 1.5 liters per person (with a 48-hour or longer visit to the U.S.A.) we were limited to bringing two bottles each home to Vancouver, BC. Having tried lots of great wine at the wineries we visited, I would have loved to have come back with a case or more, especially of the Brian Carter beauties. However, not wanting to break any laws, we stuck to the legal limit. Here’s what we bought for the cellar:

· One bottle of the fantastic and well-priced L’Etalon from Brian Carter Cellars, purchased direct, at the winery, so my tasting fee would be waved.
· One bottle of the spice-fest Byzance for $24.99, purchased at the Burlington Costco at a savings of $5 from the winery price.
· Two bottles of the 95-point scoring Flora Springs 2005 Trilogy for $39.99 each - also purchased at Costco.

Full-disclosure: the bottles of Flora Springs have nothing to do with the wineries in this article. They were simply too good a deal to pass up. Having visited Napa Valley’s Flora Springs earlier in the year and not being able to secure this fantastic wine, I was eager to add the bottles of Trilogy to my collection. Hopefully, this purchase will be a success story for The Cellar Experiment. - LC

Below are links to all of the wineries I visited on this trip:

No comments:

Post a Comment