The fruit for the 2004 Canoe Ridge Merlot was fermented in many small lots, allowing us each lot to be treated as a unique expression of the vineyard. By using a variety of fermentation practices and yeast strains, Canoe Ridge created individual components that were carefully pieced together for the final blend. They used a minimum of fining and filtration, and aged the wine for 15 months in a variety of oak barrels.
This is a soft and elegant wine. On the palate, vanilla and toffee notes mingle with lush flavors of cherry and blackberry. The wine is round and velvety, with very subtle tannins and a pleasing finish. Enjoy this easy-to-drink wine with everything from roast chicken to spinach and mushroom lasagna to the perfect hamburger.
Canoe Ridge Winery
Canoe Ridge Vineyard's estate vineyard, 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. The winery is known for its unique Merlot, which displays the traditional elegant, classic flavors of Bordeaux Merlot, yet has the suppleness of Pinot Noir.
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Columbia Valley is the largest of Washington State's wine growing regions, with almost 11 million acres. It encompasses a number of smaller regions, including Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, Red Mountain and more. The vast area consists of a range of climates, allowing viticulturists to plant a diverse selection of grape varieties. Most wineries plant rows sparsely, which helps the vines survive the harsh winters.
Now the number two producer in the United States, Washington State has also grown in quality.
So how does a state known for rain and coffee produce high quality wines? They plant their grapes on the east side of the Cascade mountains, away from that ever-present rain cloud that sits along the coast. Perhaps wine grapes do well since the sandy loam soils east of the Cascade range give way to an almost desert-like land, saved from drought only by the helpful rivers that run through the area – and the good irrigation systems.
Thinking that the state would do best with typical northern growing grapes like Riesling and Gewurtztraminer, turns out the apple state is well-suited for reds, namely Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and, more recently, Syrah. Of course, whites have not been forgotten - Washington State Rieslings range from bone-dry to sweet, are well-structured and high quality, and Chardonnay dominates most of the other white plantings, making a range of wines. But the reds of the region, Merlot in particular, have made Washington State a quality force to be reckoned with.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.