Novelty Hill’s WineFoot Debut

Winery Website: www.noveltyhillwines.com

For the past few years now, lots of washingtonians have been super excited about what’s been going on at Woodinville-based Novelty Hill Winery – it’s winemaker, Mike Januik is one of the state’s superstars and rightly so. His wines have a stellar track-record of kicking ass and taking names – he is held in high regard by both industry professionals and by the many fans of his work.

It was for good reason that the family-owned Novelty Hill Winery hired this guy to make its wine – and they’ve provided him a world-class vineyard in Eastern Washington called Stillwater Creek.

2006 Chardonnay – Stillwater Creek:

Technical Data:

  • Case Production: 1,375
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • pH: 3.35
  • Total Acidity: 0.50 grams/100 ml
  • Barrel fermented in new and one-year-old French oak
  • Malolactic fermentation
  • Sur lie aging for nine months
  • Price: $22

Nose: Creamy pineapple chunks covered in vanilla – a touch of honeysuckle, minerality, and toastiness.

Taste: Toasted marshmallows with hints of kiwi, pineapple, green apple peel and vanilla bean. Extremely luscious mouth-feel in a wine that does a great job of balancing the fruit and acidity. The finish lasts for days on end – easily one of the better-structured chardonnay’s I’ve had in a long time.

W.E.P. Rating: 110%

2006 Viognier – Stillwater Creek:

Technical Data:

  • Barrel fermented in 100% French oak
  • Sur lie aged for nine months
  • Blend: 100% Viognier
  • Case Production 192 cases
  • Alcohol 13.5%
  • pH 3.51
  • Total acidity 0.59 grams/100 ml
  • Price: $22

Nose: Here we go – the nose on this wine is serious business – we’re talking HUGE amounts of pineapple, granny-smith apples, fresh carnations, a hint of flintiness and sour patch candy.

Taste: Take a fresh pineapple, top it with some kiwi, pear peel, some watermelon rine and shove it into your mouth – the explosive fruit of this wine cannot be underscored well enough in text. I get some hints of petrol, sandstone as well.

One of the best balances of fruit to acidity I’ve had in a white wine this side of Europe. I would hit this wine like the fist of an angry god – bring it on. For all you red wine snobs out there, you NEED to try this wine – this is the quintessential gateway white. This viognier is perhaps the best I’ve had at anytime, from any producer anywhere. It’s so well balanced that I’m a bit verklempt.

W.E.P. Rating: 120%

2005 Syrah – Sillwater Creek:

Technical Data:

  • Aged in a combination of new and one-year-old French oak barrels for 18 months
  • Gravity racked every 3 – 4 months
  • Blend: 98% Syrah and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Case Production: 1,909 cases
  • Alcohol: 14.1%
  • pH: 3.72
  • Total acidity: 0.53 g/100 ml
  • Price: $22

Nose: Gooseberries mixed with wild, freshly-cut game – some white and black pepper corns mixed with a nice blueberry jam and pie crust overtone round things out.

Taste: Bring on the stinky-socks covered in venison and peppercorns – then shove some fresh blueberries in your mouth and that’s what you have going on in this wine. Subtle hints of cocoa round out this quality syrah.

It has an insane amount of fruit that leaps onto your palate but it’s kept in check with a good sense of toasted leather notes. Excellent balance of fruit, oak and alcohol – this is a complete no-brainer wine for the money and one I’d highly recommend.

W.E.P. Score: 100%