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Woodward Canyon Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley, Washington
  • RP91
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Winemaker Notes

This 2003 Columbia Valley Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon is produced from grapes that were planted in the very early 1970's. The grapes were harvested by hand from Champoux Vineyard (98%) and Sagemoor Vineyard (2%) both on benches overlooking the Columbia River in southeastern Washington. The 2003 vintage was the warmest on record for Washington State.

The wine was pumped over and punched down two to three times per day in small stainless steel tanks. Average fermentation was between seven and twelve days with one or two tanks given extend maceration time. After pressing and racking, the various lots were moved to new French chateau barrels for aging and maturation. Later, in August of 2005, this wine was racked from barrel, assembled and bottled just before harvest started in early September 2005.

This 2003 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon is a rich and powerful red wine. It expresses the purity of fully mature Washington Cabernet Sauvignon from a warm vintage incredibly well. Flavors of dried black cherry and cassis marry with spicy new oak and vanilla toast coats the mouth. The texture is soft and silky yet there are firm mature tannins in the finish. The color is dark reddish purple; the complex aromas leap from the glass. This red wine will benefit greatly from additional cellaring and, with proper storage, should last for twelve years or more.

Critical Acclaim

RP 91
The Wine Advocate

Produced from vines planted in 1972, 1979, and 1981 in the world-class Champoux vineyard, the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Old Vines explodes from the glass with scents of spiced black fruits. Concentrated, powerful, and medium to full-bodied, it displays outstanding depth in its blackberry, cassis liqueur, black currant, and menthol flavors. Projected maturity: 2007-2017. Unlike recent vintages of Woodward Canyon’s reds, neither this top-notch effort nor any of the other wines I tasted during my visit exhibited any hard edges. It seems this old winery (by Washington standards) is reclaiming its rightful place among the state's top producers.

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Woodward Canyon

Woodward Canyon

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Woodward Canyon, , Washington
Woodward Canyon
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.

South Africa

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An underappreciated wine-producing country currently undergoing a renaissance, South Africa has a surprisingly long and rich history considering its status as part of the “New World” of wine. In the mid-17th century, the lusciously sweet dessert wines of Constantia were highly prized by the European aristocracy. Since then, the South African wine industry has experienced some setbacks due to the phylloxera infestation of the late 1800s and political difficulties throughout the following century. Today, however, it is increasingly responsible for high-quality wines that are helping to put the country back on the international wine map. Wine production is mainly situated around Cape Town, where the climate is generally warm to hot, but the Benguela current from Antarctica provides the brisk ocean breezes necessary for steady ripening. Similarly, cooler high-elevation vineyard sites offer climatic diversity.

South Africa’s wine regions are divided into region, then smaller districts, and finally wards, but the country’s wine styles are differentiated more by grape variety than by region. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is the country’s “signature” grape, responsible for earthy, gamey reds. When Pinotage is blended with other red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Pinot Noir (all commonly vinified alone as well), it is often labeled as a “Cape Blend.” Chenin Blanc (locally known as “Steen”) dominates white wine production, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc following behind.

Cabernet Sauvignon

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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.

Perfect Pairings

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.

Sommelier Secrets

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.

MPOLDVINES_2003 Item# 89918

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