Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Revisiting Old Favorites: Canoe Ridge

Writing about the wines of Walla Walla is not a full time gig for me. I often get so busy with - - well - - every day life. So, it is such a pleasure when local wineries contact me to say, "Hello Catie! We're here! We haven't seen you in a while." And that's exactly what Cynthia Souder from Canoe Ridge Vineyard did! It was great to see Cindy again and happy to hear she followed her sister and brother-in-law, Jennifer and David Marshall (David is with Long Shadows Vintners), to Walla Walla. The last time I saw her, she was wearing a tiara and stepping out of a limosine. Well - - after all - - it was her birthday.

Canoe Ridge, located in the historic railway engine house, was one of the first wineries in the Walla Walla Valley and John Abbott, now of Abeja Winery, was the winemaker in the early days of Canoe Ridge. The wines were always consistently solid and it was always so much fun to read John's tasting notes, as he always paired his wine with music. Dire Strait’s "Expresso Love" paired with Merlot, anyone?

After Abbott left to start up Abeja Winery, it seemed to me there was a year where the wines of Canoe Ridge weren't near as solid without Abbott, until Christophe Paubert, a native of Bordeaux and a previous winemaker for the premier Chateau d'Yquem, came to join Canoe Ridge as their winemaker. Once again, the wines of Canoe Ridge are at their finest.

It was such a treat to taste though the wines of Canoe Ridge once again. Not only have their reds received accolades, but their white wines, as well. Paubert has the right touch on Chardonnay. The focus is on the fruit and not on the oak - a wine reminiscent of old world Burgundy. The Gew├╝rztraminer of Canoe Ridge is a classic example of this spicy white with the heady floral nose.

Available for the summer days and definitely a Turkey-Day pleaser is their Cabernet Sauvignon ros├ę. It was dry and crisp showing off an assortment of summer berries. The 2006 Red Table wine is certainly worth a mention. It is not only affordable at $17, but the quality is there. This 60% Merlot blend was velvetty on the palate with rich notes of cherry and chocolate. The soft tannins made it, not only an easy "sipper," so versatile with hearty foods. The Cabernets and Merlots of Canoe Ridge really show off the varietal character with a nice balance of fruit and oak. They are classic wines.

Christophe Paubert certainly brought his skills with him from Chateau d'Yquem (known for their dessert Sauternes) when it came to excuting the off-dry wines with the 2004 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, 2006 Late Harvest Chardonnay/Riesling blend and the Port Cabernet Sauvignon. I've been hearing so many good things about this particular red dessert wine, so I was excited to give this rare Walla Walla produced Port-style wine a taste. It is an elegant dark red liquid that paired well with a bite of a rich chocolate brownie. And I was surprised how it made my palate so happy when paired with a soft and buttery Camazola blue cheese.

It is worth the time to revisit this winery and if you have never visited, I recommend a stop to take advantage of their moderately priced and fine produced wines. Cindy and Jerry, tasting room staff were welcoming and friendly. The tasting room is rather cozy, but when I was there even the guests were friendly and fun to visit with!

Unfortunately, it was announced this last weekend that Paubert will be leaving Washington State and will be moving to California where he will be joining the winery of Stags' Leap in Napa. We will hold our breath with anticipation to see who will step into these big shoes of great winemakers before.

1 comment:

John said...

Canoe Ridge was the first really exceptional Washington State wine I ever tasted. I can't even begin to guess how many bottles of their merlot I sold back in my retail days.

I'm so jealous that you can pop in to say "hello."