Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Monday, April 20, 2009

Woodinville Passport: Novelty Hill and Mike Januik

Ladies and Gentleman, we interrupt this broadcast to bring you a Bulletin: We interrupt our posts about Taste Washington to bring you almost real-time reports from Woodinville Passport.

On my return to Columbia Winery to get a replacement copy of my "Woodinville Passport"which apparently fell out of my pocket early on, I thought I would taste some Columbia Winery wines. You may have noticed that for the most part I have never been particularly fond of Columbia wines, but I thought I would at least try the Red Willow Sangiovese. No Passport, no wine! Such rigidity! As recompense, I immediately headed to Novelty Hill where I hoped for a better reception and where I knew there would be so many good wines. I once said that I've never had a bad wine from Novelty Hill. This time I tasted through so many good wines made by Mike Januik. The tasting room staff led by Diane were extremely helpful and accommodating. Destiny poured so many excellent wines, that I quickly developed palate fatigue as they all started to blend together in my mind. One reason for this is that winemaker Mike Januik has a very distinct winemaker signature. Virtually all of his wines are made in a smooth seemless style, well balanced, medium bodied with lots of fruit. Almost all of Mike wines are delicious. There are very few winemakers who are so consistent, just as there very few wine regions that are consistent. Chinon, Dolcetto, Champagne, Port and Sherry are the consistent regions. Mike and Tim Narby at Note Bene winery are among the few truly consistent winemakers. In Mike's case perhaps this comes from his years of experience at Chateau Ste. Michelle. This consistency makes it easy to choose wine from a wine list or a retail shelf. The truly amazing thing is consistency at such a high level. Tasting Mike's wines is like tasting flight of Bordeaux First Growths and then trying to pick the best one. Each wine would be outstanding on it's own and tasting them together tends to diminish them all. They become average , except that the average is extremely high. So forgive me if these notes seem somewhat similar. Rather than give numeric ratings I will give you the asterisk system that I actually use when tasting wines. Only really good wines, wines that I really like, get stars - three stars = outstanding, two stars = extraordinary, one star = excellent. These notes are pretty much in the order presented from light and white to big and red.

1) *2005 Novelty Hill Semillon - GRASS, a pleasing grassy nose leads to a smooth, balanced wine with good minerality - great! Gives L'Ecole Semillon a run for the money.

2) 2006 - Novelty Hill Sauvignon Blanc - As most of you know I'm not too fond of S.B., This one was like a cool fresh stream without that annoyingly tart grapefruit flavor. The anti-New Zealand Sauv.

3) **2005 Viognier - Minerality, hint of citrus, lively, not big and heavy like so many Viogniers, definitely a food wine. If I were using numbers I would have given in a 90.
4) ** 2006 Januik Cold Creek Chardonnay - Minerality, citrus, food wine. The Cold Creek was the first Januik wine we tasted and we fell in love with it's cool French style reminding us of a French Meursault. This vintage is lighter and less full bodied than our first Cold Creek Chard from Mike.

5) ** 2007 Januik Elerding Chardonnay - Bigger, fuller oakier than the Cold Creek. Reminiscent of a French Chassagne Montrachet white Burgundy.

6) * 2006 Novelty Hill Stillwater Creek Chardonnay - OAK, oak nose, big mineral apple, fruit, citrus. Somewhat like a French Puligny Montrachet.

7) 2005 Novelty Hill Stillwater Creek Sangiovese - light color, cherry nose, light cherry flavors, need a year or two to diminish the tannins.

8) ** 2005 Januik Columbia Valley Merlot - This blend of 91%, 7% Cab Sauv, 2% Cab Franc is soft and smooth with cherry vanilla flavors - the quintessential Januik wine. Blended from Klipsun, Ciel Du Cheval, Conner Lee and Weinbau grapes, it has a heck of a pedigree.

9) 2006 Januik Klipsun Merlot - Blended with 4% Cab Sauv, this one has a complex nose with notes of toast.

10) * 2004 Novelty Hill Stillwater Merlot - Amazing berry nose with hints of blueberry. Round & soft - friut, fruit, fruit.

11) ** 2006 Januik Ciel Du Cheval Petit Verdot - Strawberry/rhubarb nose, yum, so soft, like a Merlot - not as big and structured as the 2004.

12) *2004 Novelty Hill Columbia Valley Syrah - Soft, toasty nose, Light fruity, refreshing, delightful Syrah.

13) *** 2006 Januik Lewis Vineyard Syrah - WOW! Toast and fruit - speechless.

14) * 2006 Januik Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - round soft fruit.

15) * 2006 Januik Ciel Du Cheval Cabernet Sauvignon - Wow! great fruit.

16) 2006 Januik Champoux Cabernet Sauvignon - blueberry - palate fatigue.

17) 2006 Januik Reserve - 88% Cab. Sauv., 7% Cab Franc, 3% Malbec, 2% Merlot - Champoux and Weinbau

Well, that's more than a baker's dozen. Across all price ranges, delicious wines. One of the tasting room staff recommended the Januik Red Wine which was not available for tasting so I bought a bottle. It couldn't be bad. I also tasted the newly released 2006 Novelty Hill Stillwater Malbec which was excellent, same style but bigger and fuller. I finished with the Rose, a great palate cleanser. What a tour de force!


  • At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Gregory Copploe said…

    Wineries Have Partnered up with Local Artists to Bring you an Evening of Wine Tasting and Art Viewing

    (SEATTLE) June 11, 2009 – Alicia Hansen announced Wednesday that Woodinville will host an evening of art and wine tasting on July 16, 2009 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. “Wine and art go hand in hand, and we are excited to support our local wineries and local artists and host what will be a yearly event in Woodinville”. It’s such a mellifluous mix, art and wine, and we expect a huge turnout”.
    This year we have several wineries participating in this event, and we are proud that they will be giving back to the community by hosting a local artist in their winery. The participating wineries are: Des Voigne Cellars, Alexandria Nicole, Anton Ville, Chatter Creek, Covington Cellars, Cowan Vineyards, Edmonds Winery, Gordon Brothers, Page Cellars, Patterson Cellars, Red Sky Winery and William Church Winery. “William Church Winery is proud to host an artist this year. This exposure is great for both the artist and the winery, so it’s a win win for all”, touted Leslie Balsley owner of William Church Winery.
    Two featured artists, Gretchen Michaels and Gregory Copploe are part of this year’s festivities. Ms. Michaels has partnered up with Red Sky Winery and Mr. Copploe has partnered up with William Church Winery. Gretchen Michaels’ actual paintings are done in "reverse" as she paints on the back side of an acrylic panel. Unlike painting on canvas where the first painted layers get covered with each additional layer of paint, you see her first layers, then less of each additional layer. When the artwork is mounted using her custom built frames, you are looking at the paint through the acrylic panel. Many layers of paint create the final effect. Gregory Copploe’s unique oil style has been compared to Amedeo Modigliani, as he captures the delicate and passionate soul of the woman, her nose elongated, her lips pouting, and her eyes soulful and wanting. His style evolved from painting faces in the clouds, to creating thick oils in spatula, and eventually painting portraits of classical women in a Modiglianic style. Greg and Gretchen both believe that “showing your art in this setting where wine and art are paired together is a winning and sensual combination”.
    Come and taste at twelve of the wineries in the Woodinville Warehouse District for only $20 (cash only). Each winery will feature two wines along with art from a local host artist. Tickets can be purchased at the Woodinville Park North ticket tent (located at 19501 144th Avenue NE just across from Building A at the entrance to the park), Chatter Creek (18658 142nd Ave. NE and Covington Cellars (18580 142nd Ave. NE
    For more info go to


Post a Comment

<< Home

More blogs about seattle wine blog.