Canoe Ridge The Expedition Chardonnay 2014
Canoe Ridge Vineyard is one of Washington State’s most recognized wineries, with its namesake vineyard established in 1989 in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Varieties are focused on Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The name comes from a ridge by the vineyard located along the mid-Columbia River, neat the town of Paterson. The famed explorers Lewis and Clark named this crest of land as they journeyed down Columbia River in 1805. From the river, the adventurers thought the ridge resembled an overturned canoe. The Walla-Walla based winery marked its 20th anniversary in 2014.
Bone-dry deserts, upriver winds from the Columbia River and long sunny days make the perfect conditions for growing wine grapes in the Horse Heaven Hills. Fine tannins and deep concentrates fruit flavors are characteristics that put our region on the map- synonymous with some of the most acclaimed wines in the Northwest.
"Surely this is Horse Heaven!”
Its wide prairies and rolling expanses led an early pioneer to proclaim that the region looked like “horse heaven,” and as a result, the area was appropriately named. Horse Heaven Hills is in south central Washington state, geographically bound on its northern border by the Yakima River and in the south, by the larger Columbia River.
Its proximity to the Columbia River contributes to a variety of climactic factors that dramatically affect its grapes. In particular, an increase in wind from changes in pressure along the river, which flows from the cool and wet Pacific Ocean, inland to Washington’s hot and arid plains, creates 30% more wind than there would be otherwise. These winds moderate temperatures, protect against mold and rot, reduce the risk of early and late season frosts, diminish canopy size and toughen grape skins.
The vineyards bordering the river are on steep, south-facing, well-exposed slopes, with well-drained, sandy-loam soils. But the soils of the appellation are diverse throughout, ranging from wind-blown sand and loess, Missoula Flood sediment, and rocky basalt. Horse Heaven Hills has an arid continental climate with elevations ranging from 200 to 1,800 feet.
The first vines of the appellation were planted in 1972 in an optimal spot now referred to as the Champoux Vineyard. Today it remains the source of some of Washington’s most desirable and expensive Cabernet Sauvignons. In fact, the appellation as a whole boasts many of Washington’s top scoring wines. Its primary grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Riesling.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.