MikeL's Guide to WA Wineries
Canoe Ridge Vineyard - Wines

The Wines: (Spring 1996)
Our vineyard was planted to produce Bordeaux style red wines and provides all of our fruit. The main part of our production is dedicated to premium Merlot, with smaller quantities of premium Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. A Gewurtztraminer will be introduced in the spring/summer of 1997. Because we believe that the beginning of all great wine is in the vineyard, we work diligently to grow the best quality fruit we can. Our winemaking follows a path that encompasses both modern ideals and traditional Bordeaux techniques. We use small lot fermentation, gentle wine movements, and primarily French oak barrels. A variety of different yeast strains, barrel coopers, and fermentation practices are used as well, each tailored to compliment the many different dimensions of the fruit.

1995 Chardonnay:: Fresh, fruity, and quaffable are the first three words that come to mind describing Canoe Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay. The goal with this wine was to showcase the green apple and Bartlett pear flavors found emerging consistently from the Chardonnay vineyard. With this style in mind, one-third of the fruit was whole cluster pressed. 66% of the juice was then barrel fermented in 90% new wood, 70% French and 30% American oak. These lots were put through malolactic fermentation for a rich creamy mouth feel, while certain lots of the vintage were kept from both barrel and ML to finish the blend with a component of crisp fresh fruit character. The result is a versatile, refreshing wine you'll truly enjoy before and during a meal. Try it with spicy Asian dishes, freshly shucked oysters, or any shellfish. A special favorite of the winemaker is fresh salmon steamed in wine, ginger and lemon grass.
Varietal: Chardonnay; Appellation: Columbia Valley; Vineyard: Canoe Ridge; Harvest analysis: Brix 23.2-23.5, pH 3.85, Alcohol 13.2%; Harvest date: September 5-15, 1995; Optimum time to drink: 1996-1999

1995 Reserve Chardonnay: Canoe Ridge Vineyard currently has 29 acres of Chardonnay, consisting of two different clones. Of these two, the small clustered clone provides a modest amount of exceptional fruit that deserves a special designation. These small clusters are tremendously concentrated with flavor and have a structure that can stay in balance with a greater percentage of new oak. Once the fruit is gently crushed and pressed, it is moved to French oak barrels to be fermented. Each barrel is inoculated individually with yeast known for producing elevated aromatic qualities. The nose is lovely with scents of orange blossom, honeysuckle, pineapple, and lemon, which spill over onto the palate and integrate beautifully with the French oak, spice, and a hint of mineral. This wine is quite pleasing to sip, though like Canoe Ridge’s other wines it is meant to be enjoyed with food. Try it with fresh wok-seared tuna, or a chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and basil.
Varietal: Chardonnay; Appellation: Columbia Valley; Vineyard: Canoe Ridge; Harvest analysis: Brix 23.0-23.5, Alcohol 13.3%, pH 3.75; Harvest date: September 15, 1995; Optimum time to drink: 1996-2000

1994 Cabernet Sauvignon: Canoe Ridge Vineyard has anxiously awaited the release of their first Cabernet Sauvignon and it's finally here! To make this wine, they selected the most exceptional barrels from their best lots of Cabernet, so its production depends on the quality of each vintage. The grapes are gently crushed and left on their skins for an extended time to maximize extraction of body and color. It ages in 100% new oak (75% French, 25% American) for the first nine months, after which the initial blend is made and the wine is moved to two year old French oak barrels for twelve months further aging. What has developed is a soft, rich, well-balanced Cabernet Sauvignon that is ready to drink now, but save some in your cellar, because it will get better yet! The nose is filled with characters of plum, prune, fig, green tea, and anise. The mouth has the traditional flavors of a Canoe Ridge red, with full-blown fruit, spice and chocolate. Try it with lamb, beef, or a savory winter stew. Because the winery is filled with pepper enthusiasts, they also enjoy it with a good sausage and many other spicy dishes. Menus with an Italian influence are also delightful, even a simple pizza or spaghetti!
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon; Appellation: Columbia Valley; Vineyard: Canoe Ridge; Harvest analysis: Brix 24.3, Alcohol 13.6%, pH 3.78; Harvest date: October 10-15, 1994; Optimum time to drink: 1996-2005

1994 Merlot: This was a great year to grow grapes and make wine in Washington state. Harvest of the Merlot began with only 30% of the tanks in place in the winery's new (90 year old) winery building in Walla Walla. Despite the long hours required to complete construction of the winery and process the fruit, the winery was delighted to see that the Merlot grapes were rich and loaded with fruit. Using techniques to extract color early and to maximize the fruit, a wine was created that is rapidly becoming the signature of Canoe Ridge Vineyard fruit. Layers of flavors; blackberries, Bing cherries, Willamette raspberries, Italian prunes, and Belgium chocolate are fast becoming a common thread between the vintages of Canoe Ridge Vineyard Merlot. This wine was aged for 16 months in 75% French oak and 25% American oak, 40% of it new barrels. From the first whiff, this wine screams food and fun—summer barbecue, smoked fowl quesadilla, any pasta dish, mushroom risotto, polenta and grilled vegetables, winter vegetable stew, or jalapeno, bleu cheese, and roasted garlic piled high on a baguette. This wine is meant to be enjoyed with food.
Varietal: Merlot; Appellation: Columbia Valley; Vineyard: Canoe Ridge; Harvest analysis: Brix 23.8-24.2, Alcohol 13.5%, pH 3.75; Harvest date: September 15-25, 1994; Optimum time to drink: 1996-2002

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