You’ve probably seen this cabernet on the shelf in wine stores, but you might not know much about it. It’s from the Columbia Valley of Washington State. Mike Januik is the owner and winemaker for the label. He’s been making wine in Washington since 1984, spending 10 of those years as the head winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle before leaving to start Januik Winery in 1999.
When grown in Washington’s Columbia Valley, the cabernet sauvignon grape seems to take on much more of its natural fruit profile of cassis and blackberry. Thus, where a Napa Valley cabernet tends to exhibit more tannins and tertiary characteristics, a cab from Washington State is first and foremost all about the fruit.
A blend of 92 percent cabernet sauvignon; 5 percent merlot; 2 percent cabernet franc; and 1 percent malbec, this Columbia Valley cabernet is made from a select number of vineyards, including Champoux, Klipsun, Red Mountain, Weinbau, and Lady Hawk. It shows dark color, with a full-bodied aroma and mouth-feel. It’s packed with cassis, blackberry liqueur, and a touch of cocoa. You can match this with any red meat, grilled chicken, or a dry-rubbed pork chop. Given the amount of fruit in this wine, it’ll also stand up to barbecue just fine, thank you. Available locally at Total Wine, The Wine Club, and Wine Exchange for $29 or less.
And, just to leave you with a fun fact: The origin of the cabernet sauvignon grape began in the 17th century, when French wine growers crossed cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc to create a unique grape with special flavors and tough, thick skins that made it easier to grow. The rest, as they say, is history.