Canoe Ridge is one of Washington State’s largest wineries and is located in Horse Heaven Hills AVA, just north of the moderating influence of the Columbia River with Walla Walla AVA to the east.
Canoe Ridge is owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle which produces about 2 million (yes, million!) bottles of wine annually. It has two prominent ventures – one with Piero Antinori of Tuscany (Col Solare) and the other with the Mosel’s Ernst Loosen called Eroica – and offers many options ranging from entry level to exclusive single vineyard wines.
The Canoe Ridge vineyards are quite warm and because they’re in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains, they’re dry. This is one of the reasons Cabernet Sauvignon does so well there. It’s also very windy there, evident from the wind turbines that dot the landscape along the Columbia River gorge. Along with the warmth, the dry winds reduce the chance of rot and fungal disease that could hurt the grapes.
Some of the very best red American wines are produced from grapes grown in Horse Heaven Hills (and closeby Red Mountain AVA) including, Quilceda Creek’s 100 Parker Point examples from 2002 and 2003.
The Canoe Ridge brand is not playing in that league, but this is certainly a reasonable deal considering the price point.
The wine is clear and bright, opaque ruby moving toward garnet with deep legs. There are medium plus intense aromas of blackberry, mulberry and a little raisin with cinnamon and light licorice along with a strong element of minerality. Initially, there was a great deal of alcohol, but it did blow off after swirling and given some time.
The palate is dry with medium acidity, medium plus alcohol and medium ripe tannins with the lightest dust and grain. The medium plus flavours include more of the promise of the nose – mulberry, black plum and blackberry with cinnamon spice and cedar. There’s no green or black pepper or vine, but the finish is medium plus.
It’s not printed on the bottle, but while 80% is Cabernet Sauvignon, there is also 12% Merlot, 7% Malbec and 1% Cab Franc in this blend.
A balanced wine with fruit that is slightly overripe, but flavourful.
Drink this WSET ‘Good’ wine now; not meant for further ageing.