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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for October 25, 2000


Baby, It's Cold Outside


At Canoe Ridge Vineyard, our low temperature of the year was minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

...President Tom Selfridge.

Canoe Ridge Vineyard

More Merlot Plantings At Canoe Ridge Vineyard

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.

    Washington State continues to produce some of the most intriguing red wines of America...with an elegance few California wines can match.

    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,
Columbia Valley, Washington State
Composition—Just like that winning 1996, John added 6% estate Cabernet Sauvignon for a tad more backbone.

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.
Food—Guest chef Richard Langston recommended pouring the wine with a Sweet Onion and Oyster Mushroom Layered Tart. For the recipe, (and wine info), contact Jennifer Gould, Phone (707) 254-4263 FAX (707) 254-4201
Price—$19 range


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!


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.



This page created October 2000