Hello friends. It is clear to me at only one-sixth of the way through the year that one of the great joys of 2016 is going to be accessing late-release wines from the epic 2012 vintage in Washington. In such a cellar-worthy vintage as ’12, it’s awfully nice when the winery does the cellaring for us:
We have offered this wine on two previous occasions (the 2008 and 2009 vintages). It has turned up on Wine Spectator’s year-end Top 100 lists on multiple occasions, but today it is not a Spectator review I want to highlight but a Wine Enthusiast review:
Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”
Sean has now reviewed 383 Washington Cabernets for Enthusiast. Only 20 have earned stronger reviews: three 95s (Gramercy, Quilceda, Betz); four 94s (Woodward Canyon, Woodward Canyon, Corliss, Den Hoed Andreas); and thirteen 93s. Of those, the low price is $32 (Gramercy Lower East), the high price is $140 (Quilceda, natch), and the median is $73.50. By Sean’s standards, this Novelty Hill is a hell of a bargain.
Mike Januik was Ste Michelle’s head winemaker from 1990 through 1999. In addition to his eponymous winery, he has Novelty Hill, which focuses mostly on their estate Stillwater Creek Vineyard. Stillwater indeed forms the backbone of this wine, which blends 5% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec with 88% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was aged for 21 months in 64% French/36% American barrels, approximately half new, half used.
It clocks in at 14.4% listed alc and begins with a nose deftly combining fruit and earth and barrel elements. Blackberry and crème de cassis on the fruit side. Good clean soil for earth. And a whole host of warming barrel tones: coffee and cocoa, woodsmoke and nougat. In the mouth, this really is a luscious little truffle of a wine, like a cherry cordial in wine form. The attack and mid-palate are supple and creamy; the chewy finish is all coffee bean. This has plenty of length and stuffing for the tag. It’s a real pleasure-bringer.
First come first served up to 24 bottles, and the wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.