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Canoe Ridge Merlot 2003

Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
    0% ABV
    • WE90
    • WS88
    • WS89
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    3.0 1 Ratings
    0% ABV

    Winemaker Notes

    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 vineyards' 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. Due to the improvements in winegrowing over the last 10 to 15 years, we are now growing better balanced grapevines. These vines are less vigorous and don't draw up late season water like the vines did in the past.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Canoe Ridge

    Canoe Ridge

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    Canoe Ridge, Columbia Valley, Washington
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    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.

    Columbia Valley

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    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.

    An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

    In the Glass

    Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry, and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco, and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

    Perfect Pairings

    Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

    Sommelier Secret

    Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

    ALL5615345_2003 Item# 86511