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Canoe Ridge Winery, uniquely sited at a broad section of the Columbia River in eastern Washington, produces grapes of uncommon quality. The vast river moderates temperatures, prolonging the grapes’ time on the vines during summer days, which are longer at this northern latitude, while protecting the vines from hard freezes in the winter. Sheltering ridges limit wind damage and hold warmth around the vines. The grapes from this vineyard are as unique as the area, with layers of concentrated fruit and lush, supple texture. The winery uses traditional French cellar practices, such as small-lot fermentation, gentle handling and French oak barrels, to enhance the fruit. To allow the best expression of each lot, the winemaker tailors the yeast strains, barrel selection and fermentation practices to complement the many different dimensions of the fruit.
Canoe Ridge Winery is known for its unique Merlot, which displays the traditional elegant, classic flavors of Bordeaux Merlot, yet has the suppleness of Pinot Noir.
Produced from our estate vineyard on the renowned Canoe Ridge, this is the varietal responsible for the Chalone Wine Group’s first exploration into Washington State in 1989. We ferment in many small lots so that we can treat each one as a unique expression of the vineyard. By using a variety of fermentation practices, yeast strains and barrel coopers, we create individual blending components, which are then combined at the earliest sign of a natural alliance. Fining and filtration is used on a lot-by-lot basis. The wine benefits from aging in 75 percent French and 25 percent American oak barrels for 14 to 16 months. Our Merlot is an elegant, supple wine with the finesse of a Pinot Noir and lush fruit characteristics of Willamette raspberry, Bing cherries and shaved Belgian chocolate. It pairs nicely with food.
Even when the vineyard was in its youth, there was one particular area that struck us as really special. For many vintages, we fermented it as an individual lot but always blended it with other Merlot lots. By the 1998 vintage, we felt it was ready to show on its own and we bottled it for our first Reserve Merlot—Lot 16. This fruit is grown on the far east edge of our vineyard in a location consisting of very shallow minimal soils. This adds additional farming concerns, but it is worth the extra attention it requires because the resulting fruit is always the most elegant balanced Merlot on the estate with an extremely velvety texture and chocolate palate. Barrel aging is in 100 percent French oak for 20-21 months. It is the most focused expression of our estate vineyard and shows why Canoe Ridge Vineyard® is one of the premier vineyards in the state.
Big and robust is the style of our Canoe Ridge Vineyard® Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine experiences long maceration during fermentation to develop its concentrated style. Each barrel in the final Cabernet blend is individually selected for intensity and structure. Barrel aging lasts for 24 months in 100 percent French oak barrels. The aromas of bright fruit, jalapeno peppers and cassis are classic descriptors with balanced tannins and a hint of cedar fleshing out the mouth.
Don’t be fooled by the name. This is a serious little wine that blends the lighter lots of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot into a delicious, approachable, everyday wine. Our Red Table wine is aged in 75 percent French and 25 percent American oak barrels for 14 months.
This refreshing variation of Chardonnay has a strong focus on the varietal fruit characteristics. To maintain this emphasis, we blend barrel fermented lots with crisp tank fermented lots and promote only partial malolactic fermentation. Roughly 60 percent is barrel fermented and these are the lots that are allowed to go through malolactic fermentation. Average barrel aging lasts for six months in 100 percent French oak. Subtle flavors of honeysuckle, Bartlett pear, white peach and mineral make this wine more Old World in style. The slightly higher acidity level makes it a great companion with food.
This cool weather varietal is grown 80 miles further west of the Canoe Ridge Vineyard® on the White Salmon River. The vineyard was planted in the early 1980s and is dry farmed. It is likely the coolest site that could consistently grow this varietal to ripeness, which is key to its concentration and style. It is a crisp, dry style Gewürztraminer with a spicy, pink grapefruit and honeysuckle aroma. The mouthfeel is well structured with a hint of sweetness that gives it the ability to stand up to hot food, such as Thai. It is also perfect before dinner and during the hot summer season. Residual Sugar is less than 1 percent. The wine is barrel fermented in 100 percent neutral French oak.