The Salut! Wine Club

Mike Januik, winemaker at Novelty Hill, is a well-recognized talent in the Washington wine industry.  His namesake Januik label has long been a favorite of mine (his Chardonnay was placed in our wine club earlier).  Actually, his wines have been a favorite of many.  At least 12 wines from his hand have been included on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 lists. 

The value “Novelty Hill” label started just a few years ago and the releases have been an excellent and affordable way to enjoy Washington’s best on a daily basis.  Much of the fruit for this wine comes from the estate-owned Stillwater Creek Vineyards.  The 2006 red is a cacophony of varietals including 33% Syrah, 18% each of Cab Franc and Mourvedre, 13% Merlot, 11% Cabernet and 7% Petit Verdot. 

Generous and round offering delicious, ripe red plum, blueberry and currant aromas and flavors, with a lip-smacking, spicy finish.

What I most like about the Novelty Hill wines (and other Januik releases) is the restraint away from overextraction.  These wines aren’t fruit bombs, where blasts of fruit cover up the flaws found in many value and “second label” wines.  Instead, Novelty Hill wines give you the fruit you want while allowing the character of Washington to come forward.  Spice, wood, tea, tannin, herbs and other delicate notes can enhance the complexity and create a perfect match with any meal, whether dramatically flavored or elegantly sublime.

This wine is regularly sold for $14.99, but is available to wine club members for only $13.99!

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The Salut! Wine Club

There’s a new tradition in my extended family clan.  For decades, my many divorced and remarried parents and brothers have created turmoil when holidays roll around and everyone vies for “who get’s Christmas” or Thanksgiving or Xmas eve.  Finally, my father and stepmother decided to declare Christmas Eve as their PrimeRibRoast3night, for the first time about 4 years ago.  They invited everyone, and when the night finally arrived I was the only of 4 sons and two other couples to arrive.  It was the three of us, set to enjoy a 10 lb. prime rib roast and the cherished set of three bottles of wines I had brought.

These were three bottles from Beresan Winery of Walla Walla, including the limited Carmenere, a benchmark Cabernet Sauvignon, and their pinnacle Stone River blend, all created from the care and expertise of winery owner Tom Walliser and winemaker Tom Glase, whom I had met in the preceding year.

BeresanI had been fully impressed by both the scores and flavors of these rich, full-bodied, massive-fruit-filled and very balanced age-worthy wines.  Of 4 releases available for retail sale, none had a score below 91, and for several years there were few wines that didn’t reach this benchmark.  But that holiday we established a tradition…I am now the sole guest for a Beresan & Prime Rib dinner each Christmas Eve at my father’s house. 

The match is perfect.  And this Stone River blend will not fail to impress.  Age it for many years if you wish, but it’s ready to go now, with impressive balance for such enormous body and fruit.  Why wait? 

This wine is regularly sold for $36.99, but is available to wine club members for only $32.99!

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Wine Info Links

Visit the Beresan Winery website
About Cabernet Franc at Wikipedia
Balboa Winery is Beresan’s Winemaker Tom Glase’s personal winery
Complete a short puzzle and match the cuts of beef to the cow!

Great Food Pairings

Perfect Prime Rib from TexasBarbeques.com
Stracotto (beef & red wine) from Salut! Wine Co.
Andouille Sausage & Chicken Stew from beansmeats.com

Have you tasted this wine? When you’ve had a chance to enjoy this wine, please return to this blog and leave your comments! Others will appreciate your input, unique viewpoint, and recommendations.

The Salut! Wine Club

We’ve been one of the top sellers and biggest fans of the Sandhill Cabernet Sauvignons since we opened in 2002 and started selling the 1999 vintage of this Washington success story.  That 1999 won a Top 100 award from Wine Enthusiast in 2003, and winery owner John Dingethal finally surpassed the quality of that wine with the 2004…the last vintage completely under his control before selling the winery in 2008.

SandhillCabJohn believed no bottle of wine should cost over $25.  Even after winning a Top 100 award his wine sold for just $19.99!  His 2004 is now just $21.99, and boasts the full body, depth and structure of many $40 bottles.  Bold dark fruit, a smooth balance of fine tannins in the background, with age-worthy qualities that will make this wine age gracefully for several years.  Flavors of cola, cherry, coffee and hints of cocoa flood the palate.  25% Merlot in the blend adds to the complexity and depth.  Drink it now as your every-day Cabernet and you’ll derive the most pleasure, knowing that you can still obtain a few more bottles.

The wine is crafted from fruit grown on the original/first Red Mountain Vineyards to the east of Yakima, across the street from the very recognized Hedges Cellars.  Red Mountain is the state’s smallest winemaking AVA, (downright tiny at about 4000 acres!) argueably producing the best red grapes grown in the Northwest.  On the 2003 Top 100 list of Wine Enthusiast, 5 of the wines considered the best of the year (of the entire world’s wines) were created from Red Mountain grapes!  Robert Parker continues to be a growing fan of the wines produced here.

The Sandhill Cabernet is a relatively hidden find…it was only sold in a few states due to its limited production and the fact that John himself distributed most of the product by driving it around Washington himself!  Now the new owner has signed up with distributors, but the market hasn’t discovered this gem quite yet.   Don’t miss the opportunity to snap up cases of this wine now.

This wine is available at Salut! Wine Co. for $21.99, or available to wine club members for only $18.69!

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Wine Info Links

Visit the Washington Wine Commission for a compendium of info about the state’s industry
About Cabernet Sauvignon at Wikipedia
About Merlot at Wikipedia
Explore the Red Mountain AVA at WinesNW.com

Great Food Pairings

Saucy Beef Kabobs
Chili Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
Drunken Chicken (Pollo Borracho)

Have you tasted this wine? When you’ve had a chance to enjoy this wine, please return to this blog and leave your comments! Others will appreciate your input, unique viewpoint, and recommendations.