This 1998 Columbia Valley "old vines" cabernet sauvignon is produced from grapes that were planted in the 1970's. The grapes were harvested entirely from Champoux vineyard, formerly known as Mercer Ranch, along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington. The very warm growing season of 1998 gave incredibly ripe fruit of great richness and concentration.
The wine was pumped over and punched down three times per day in small stainless steel tanks. Average brix was "off the charts" with harvest running into the middle of October 1998. Average fermentation ranged from seven to ten days. After pressing and racking, the various lots were moved to new French chateau barrels for aging and maturation. In early July 2000, this wine was racked from barrel, assembled, and bottled unfined and unfiltered later that same month.
This 1998 "old vines" cabernet sauvignon is a powerful and worthy successor to 1995 and 1997 "old vines". Sadly, we were forced to declassify nearly one third of this "old vines" cabernet sauvignon into our 1998 "artist series" cabernet and are, therefore, short about 500 cases. Flavors of ripe raspberry and blackberry married with spicy, toasted oak and vanilla explode in the mouth! The color is deeply purple and the texture is concentrated and rich, yet supple. It will benefit greatly from additional cellaring, and with proper storage, should last fifteen years.
Woodward Canyon Winery
Woodward Canyon Winery was founded by Rick Small in 1981. He is currently soul-searching on the subject of terroir. Debating the suitability of certain varietals to certain vineyard plots has become a quandary. On the one hand, the grapes growing there do fine and are the basis for extremely successful wines (Chardonnay, mostly); on the other, would Merlot or Cabernet Franc provide even more exciting character? The evolution of the Northwest wine industry continues.
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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.