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Canoe Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
At our estate vineyard, the 2002 growing season began cool then warm temperatures in late August and early September caused sugars to accumulate quickly in the fruit. Cool weather in late September slowed down growing activity and allowed the grapes to mature and develop intense flavors.
ABOUT THE VINEYARD
Our estate vineyard's unique location at a broad expanse of the Columbia River in eastern Washington allows it to grow superior grapes. The vast river moderates the temperature, extending the grapes' hangtime on the vines during the long summer, yet protecting the vines in the winter. The vineyard's location on the northeast side of the ridge protects it from wind damage. It is one of the largest estate-owned single vineyards in the state. Blocks 1–4 make up the heart of the Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Planted in 1990, these are the oldest blocks on our estate vineyard. The vines have reached that ideal period in their life span where they achieve a natural state of balance. The result is more consistent even growth, grape berry size, and crop levels from year to year, which provide us with more consistent flavors.
ABOUT THE WINE
We fermented our Cabernet Sauvignon in many small lots, which allowed us to treat each one as a unique expression of the vineyard. By using a variety of fermentation practices, yeast strains and barrel coopers, we created individual components that we carefully pieced together for the final blend. We used a minimum of fining and filtration and we aged the wine in 85 percent French oak barrels for 21 months. Bursting with dark berry and plum fruit flavors, our Cabernet Sauvignon shows touches of chocolate, spice and cedar mixed with toasty vanilla.
Our Cabernet Sauvignon is packed with enough fruit and structure to last for many years and is a perfect match for hearty meat dishes such as braised lamb shanks with caramelized root vegetables, grilled New York steak or a flank steak stuffed with blue cheese.
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.
A large and geographically diverse AVA responsible for a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington State’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA extends into northern Oregon as well. Because of its vast size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which is further split into three more even smaller AVAs. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences cold winters and long, dry growing seasons. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.
Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling, the styles of which depend on the warmth of the site. Citrus and green apple are common to both in cooler sites, while warmer vineyards will produce riper, fleshier stone fruit flavors.
A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes referred to as the “king” of red grapes. It can be somewhat unapproachable early in its youth but has the potential to age beautifully, with the ability to last fifty years or more at its best. Small berries and tough skins provide its trademark firm tannic grip, while high acidity helps to keep the wine fresh for decades. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in temperate climates like Bordeaux's Medoc region (and in St-Emillion and Pomerol, where it plays a supporting role to Merlot). The top Médoc producers use Cabernet Sauvignon for their wine’s backbone, blending it with Merlot and smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot. On its own, Cabernet Sauvignon has enjoyed great success throughout the world, particularly in the Napa Valley, and is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and sought-after “cult” wines.
In the Glass
High in color, tannin, and extract, Cabernet Sauvignon expresses notes of blackberry, cassis, plum, currant, spice, and tobacco. In Bordeaux and elsewhere in the Old World you'll find the more earthy, tannic side of Cabernet, where it's typically blended to soften tannins and add complexity. In warmer regions like California and Australia, you can typically expect more ripe fruit flavors upfront.
Cabernet Sauvignon is right at home with rich, intense meat dishes—beef, lamb, and venison, in particular—where its opulent fruit and decisive tannins make an equal match to the dense protein of the meat. With a mature Cabernet, opt for tender, slow-cooked meat dishes.
Despite the modern importance and ubiquity of Cabernet Sauvignon, it is actually a relatively young variety. In 1997, DNA revealed the grape to be a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which took place in 17th century southwestern France.