2009 Novelty Hill Merlot

Year: 2009
Appellation: Columbia Valley
Country: USA - Washington
Wine Advocate: 88
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.4%
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"A Novelty Hill 2009 Merlot appellated “Columbia Valley” and comprised of fruit from Alder Ridge and Stillwater Creek displays candied Morello cherry, vanilla and almond extract, its confectionary aura slightly awkwardly allied to notes of green herbs. Polished in texture as are most wines from Mike Januik, and satisfying in terms of sheer length (with a hint of pit piquancy adding attractive counterpoint) if not in any way intriguing or complex, I suspect this will be best enjoyed over the next couple of years.

Novelty Hill wines are made by veteran Mike Januik in the same (deluxe, now five year old) facility as are his Januik wines (reviewed separately in this report), but is a partnership with Tom Alberg and Judi Beck that originated when in 2000 they consulted with Januik on the establishment of what became Stillwater Creek Vineyard. Unsurprisingly, that inspirational Frenchman Hills site (for a bit more about which, see my comments in the introduction to this report) is the source for around one-third the volume of Novelty Hill’s wines (and is, incidentally, where I tasted them). While there are a number of excellent white wines on this roster, it should be borne in mind that more than three-quarters of Novelty Hill production is red, vinified along the lines sketched in my account of Januik wines in the present report." (WA)

Winery Notes:
Loaded with red and black cherries, fresh raspberries and a hint of mocha, this fruit-forward, medium-bodied Merlot offers a delicious, silky texture across a concentrated, lengthy finish.-Mike Januik, Winemaker

Bud break was a few weeks later than usual due to a mild, wet spring, but cool weather worries quickly subsided with the arrival of warm, dry weather in June. Temperatures climbed in July and stayed warm through August; ideal weather conditions continued into September and early October. Grapes ripened perfectly at a record pace resulting in a short, compressed harvest that wrapped up in early October to yield reds with deep, concentrated flavors and uncommon richness.

The Columbia Valley is a diverse growing region that provides a wide range of fruit expressions to yield multi-layered wines. For this Merlot, winemaker Mike Januik blended barrels from Novelty Hill’s estate vineyard Stillwater Creek, on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills. along with select lots from Alder Ridge in the Horse Heaven Hills to create a richly textured wine.

A combination of punch downs and pumpovers were used to extract color and flavor during early fermentation
Fermentation was finished in barrels to integrate the fruit and oak
Gravity-racked to soften and clarify the wine
Aged 22 months in both new and one-year-old barrels, predominately French oak

89% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc