We discovered an incredible new wine recently: Novelty Hill Cascadia 2013. Novelty Hill, known previously for outstanding value Washington reds and whites, ventured into new territory with a true reserve bottling. The first three words I wrote were, “wow, that’s superb.” Beautiful savory dark chocolate notes compliment ripe black cherry, cassis and plum. Layered and seamless, supple and impeccably integrated — everything’s in its place. 57% Cabernet Sauvignon from Quintessence Vineyard (Red Mountain), plus 41% Merlot and 2% Malbec from Stillwater Creek Vineyard (Novelty Hill’s estate).
From Novelty Hill: “Deep ruby in color, Cascadia’s perfumed nose offers black cherry and cassis notes framed by aromatic espresso, dark chocolate and toasted spice. Ripe, full and opulent on the palate with a core of fresh picked cherries, summer
berries and baking spice. Plush and balanced, with a braid of minerality woven through the lively and lengthy finish.
The 2013 vintage was the warmest Columbia Valley growing season in the ten years preceding it. The vintage produced ripe, aromatic wines that benefitted from extended hang time thanks to a cooler than usual September. Bud break was early, followed by dry, warm weather that lasted until a lengthy rainstorm crossed the state in mid-June. Because of the precipitation, the vines established a solid canopy that protected the grapes from high temperatures that persisted through July and August. Harvest started early, but cool September temperatures slowed ripening considerably. By October, the Columbia Valley’s typical warm fall weather pattern returned and
the grapes finish ripening beautifully to produce delicious, balanced wines with excellent acidity.
Quintessence Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most talked about Red Mountain plantings in the last several years and was selected for this lavish Cab-based blend for its concentrated, dark fruit flavors and bold tannins. Novelty Hill’s Stillwater Creek estate vineyard Merlot, with its dark, saturated color and perfumed aromatics, is always one of our favorite wines each vintage and was paired with Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon to create a seamless blend. Stillwater Creek Vineyard Malbec rounds out the front and mid-palate.”
We talked with Scott Moeller, who was been with the Novelty Hill/Januik team since 2002 and was named winemaker in 2006. He and founding winemaker Mike Januik assembled the blend for Cascadia.
“We were given a unique opportunity and free reign to choose anything from the cellar to make Cascadia. I’ve seen Stillwater Creek evolve and knew that would be a big part of the blend, but we had some other exciting things to play with.”
Novelty Hill has focused on single varietal wines so Cascadia represents a shift in thinking for them, something’s that more expressive and a true reserve. The case production was dictated by quality of the final blend, not by a predesigned number of cases.
Mike Januik and Scott have similar tastes. “Tannin management is huge — we watch throughout the entire winemaking process at each step, it’s all about balance. You should be able to open one of our wines young, but you should also be able to age it. Our job is to craft that house style and put it in the bottle.”
Scott emphasized that to him, Cascadia is all about a sense of family and pride, the realization of owners Tom Alberg and wife Judi Beck’s vision of developing Stillwater Creek vineyard.
Cascadia is Novelty Hill’s first red Bordeaux blend. Its name is drawn from the role the Cascade Mountains play in protecting the Columbia Valley from Seattle’s marine-influenced weather, creating a giant “rain shield.”