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 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.
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.
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