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by Fred McMillin
Baby, It's Cold Outside
At Canoe Ridge Vineyard, our low temperature of the year was minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
...President Tom Selfridge.
The Rest of the Story
Cold is not the only problem at Canoe Ridge. Wind -Some years the spring "breezes" are so strong it slows the growth of shoots. Rain—Recently, in the first four months of the year, there was but two inches.
Yet, in spite of the weather, this is great Merlot country. Where is it? Eastern Washington's Columbia River Valley. The winery was commissioned a mere seven years ago. Merlot was a principal grape from the beginning...and they are planting more (photo).
How good are Washington Merlots? Here's the New York Times' answer.
At Canoe Ridge Vineyard in 1996, the bitter winter cold cut the size of the grape crop, but did not affect the quality of the wine. The resulting Merlot, thanks to a long, cool summer, is a wine of intense flavors, a Bordeaux-like body and a long, luxurious finish.
So, even though we're dealing with young vines, winemaker John Abbott is getting great results. In fact, my tasters were very enthusiastic about his 1997, which has been resting in my cool cellar for a year. It is our..
Wine of the Day
1997 Canoe Ridge Vineyard Merlot,
Br-r-r—Minimum temperature this year was warmer than in 1996. It was a balmy 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Although the winter was warmer, the growing season was not. Winemakers love the resulting slower ripening. In this case, John didn't harvest the last of his Merlot until October 16, 1997, a week later than in 1996.
When to Pick?—The best picking time for a new vineyard is particularly difficult. John let us in on a secret. "Believe it or not, watching the sweet corn crop, which is grown in the many circles around our vineyard, can provide insight into the maturity rate of our grapes. You won't read this in any vineyard management text."
Rating—"One of the softest, fruitiest Merlots we've produced to date," is the winemaker's opinion. My panel was impressed, and gave it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Europe's vitis vinifera is the species that makes essentially all of the world's fine wine. California produces the most vinifera wines in the U.S.A. Who is second, Texas or New York? Answer: Washington!
10/23/00—Did the Experiment Work?
10/20/00—Pinot in Piedmont??
10/19/00—Mugged by McPherson
10/18/00—Wizard of the Pinot
10/17/00—The Valley That Couldn't
10/16/00—Down Under A Chardonnay Shock
10/13/00—The English Rothschilds
10/12/00—Columbus Lands in the Bahamas
10/10/00—Our Best Blanc
10/09/00—A Knight Delight
10/06/00—An Act of Faith
10/05/00—EXTRA! EXTRA! World Series Winnah!!
10/04/00—Field Stone Makes Way For Chardonnay
10/03/00—Big Wine, Small Price
This page created October 2000