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Woodward Canyon Columbia Valley Merlot 2009

Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
    15.8% ABV
    • WE93
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    15.8% ABV

    Winemaker Notes

    The wine shows extraordinary complexity with higher toned fruit nicer acidity than several recent vintages. The Weinbau Vineyard has produced a complex flavor profile of generous cherry, oak, spice and coffee; I pick up notes of toasted coconut and vanilla in the aroma. Rich fruit and fully mature tannins make this wine generous and balanced enough for drinking now, yet with the proportion and structure enough to age well for six to eight years.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Woodward Canyon

    Woodward Canyon

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    Woodward Canyon, Columbia Valley, Washington
    2009 Columbia Valley Merlot
    Woodward Canyon Winery, named for the canyon Rick’s family farmed and where the Estate Vineyard is now located, was established in 1981 by Rick Small and his wife, Darcey Fugman-Small. Woodward Canyon was the second winery in the Walla Walla Valley and the Smalls were instrumental in the process of obtaining federal approval of the Walla Walla Valley appellation.

    The winery has consistently produced premium, age-worthy, award-winning Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots as well as Chardonnays. From the outset, Rick determined that quality would take precedence over quantity.

    Consequently, Woodward Canyon has remained small. Woodward Canyon is located in Lowden in the Walla Walla Valley appellation. The tasting room is a restored 1870's farmhouse.

    Woodward Canyon is a founding member of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and VINEA, the Walla Walla Valley Winegrowers' Sustainable Trust.

    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.

    CHMWDW3401009_2009 Item# 117627

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