2009 Januik Winery Merlot

Year: 2009
Appellation: Columbia Valley
Country: USA - Washington
Wine Advocate: 87
Vinous Media: 89
Connoisseurs' Guide: 88
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.4%
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"Originating in Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Weinbau vineyards (the sites chosen for this generic vary with vintage), Januik’s 2009 Merlot features fresh, juicy, cherry with a smoky overlay and a bitter herbal edge. While not terribly complex, it’s infectious and satisfyingly long.

Ste. Michelle veteran Mike Januik founded and runs the winery that bears his name in parallel with Novelty Hill (covered separately in this report), and the same recent vintage, high-tech production facility is employed with essentially the same aesthetic goals for wines of each label. The affable and insightful Januik has been in a position to cultivate close relationships with many if not most of Washington’s top grape growers, so it’s no surprise that his roster of suppliers is impressive, resulting in relatively consistently high quality. (Among the current collection, only a “Red Wine” comprising whatever barrels of Bordelais varietals are left after the blending of single-vineyard bottlings – and thus still emanating from a who’s who sites – disappointed.) Fermentative extraction for reds here is almost entirely via pump-over and of only 6-8 days duration, as Januik warms his musts in order to get alcoholic extraction to begin early and is at pains to moderate tannins. Reds typically go to barrel (generally half new) before reaching complete dryness; though rather than there being any rule, Januik opines, “after handling 700 red wine fermentations a year” for a decade at Ste. Michelle, “you get a certain feel and it’s not hard to tell when a wine is ready to press-off.” Januik commutes from Woodinville to visit nearly all of his vineyard sources on a weekly basis during the growing season in order to check on “his” blocks of vines." (WA)

"Good bright, deep red. Fresh aromas of black cherry, mocha and flowers. Sweet, plush and seamless, with ripe acidity giving shape to the red fruit and sandalwood flavors. Fruity, pliant wine with fine-grained tannins and good length. This attractive, rich merlot comes from the Weinbau and Ciel du Cheval vineyards." (IWC)

"The juicy, ripe, black cherry fruit of Merlot is in full evidence here, but so too is plenty of sweet oak along with a complementary accent or two of milk chocolate. While supple in feel and rather polished on the palate, the wine shows good weight and substance with a bit of back-palate grip that says a few years of aging might make a good wine even better. Reviewed: March 2013" (CG)

Winery Notes:
The spring of 2009 was cooler and wetter than usual delaying bud break by a few weeks, but cool weather worries quickly subsided with the arrival of warm, dry weather in June. Temperatures continued to climb in July and stayed warm through August. Ideal weather conditions in September and into early October ripened grapes beautifully at a record pace resulting in a short, compressed harvest that wrapped up just before an unusual early fall freeze hit the Columbia Valley on October 10th.

One of the advantages of having made wine in the Columbia Valley since the mid-1980s is the opportunity it’s given me to work with some of the most dedicated growers in the industry. Our Columbia Valley wines are made from a short list of vineyards I consider to be among the best in the state. The diversity of these vineyards – representing many of the most mature, carefully managed sites in Washington – Our Columbia Valley wines are made from a short list of vineyards I consider to be among the best in the state. The diversity of these vineyards-representing many of the most mature, carefully managed sites in Washington-provides for a full range of fruit expression that allows me to craft complex, multi-layered wines true to Columbia Valley terroir as well as the varietal character of the grapes. Our 2009 Columbia Valley Merlot includes grapes from Champoux, Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun and Weinbau Vineyards.

After destemming and crushing, grapes were fermented in small lots for an average time of eight days. After being pressed off, each lot of wine was moved to predominately new French oak barrels for 18 months of barrel aging during which time the wine was racked every 3-4 months.

This well-structured, medium-bodied Merlot shows lots of raspberry, vanilla and spice notes in the nose that complement rich black fruit and cocoa flavors in the mouth. Generous in texture and length, it should continue to improve with age for the next 5-10 years.