Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on Aug. 4, 2010:
Ah, the legend of drinking wine from Mission grapes grows. Two women were arrested for arguing and getting into a bumfight at a kindergarten graduation ceremony in Victorville, CA. Several men also got involved but were not booked. The kids themselves thought it was a WWE simulation and began to hold up cardboards with phrases like “You dumb jabroni!” and “Check out my puppies!” Elvis Presley is running for governor in Arkansas, the state that brought you the longest running reality show family in the Clintons. It’s true, it’s true. Elvis D. Presley has filed papers to run as a write-in candidate. While he coos “Love Me Tender” to prospective voters, come November I suspect he will be crying “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog” once he concedes. A 43 year-old PA stripper was accused of illegally accepting workers compensation while “dancing.” The woman claimed she hurt her back while waitressing and couldn’t work. She claimed “Blame It On The Bossa Nova” while giving new meaning to “She Works Hard For The Money.”
Tonight’s wine is a most confusing name for the uninitiated. First, Canoe Ridge Vineyard (the vineyard, or Canoe Ridge Estate) is owned by Stimson Lane Vineyards and Estates. The first grapes were planted in 1990 and the first harvest was in 1993. The peak of the five mile Canoe Ridge, which looks like an upside-down canoe from miles away, is just over 900 feet. The name was official in 1908 as identified in a US Dept. of Interior Geology Survey. The Chalone Group of California purchased the eastern half of the vineyard (that slopes north and east) in 1989. Dr. Walter Clore curiously wondered why a vineyard would be planted in a potential “frost pocket.” The geology of Canoe Ridge is made of basalt, which is hard rock leftover from volcanic lifts. The south-facing site is considered “ideal” with the cooling influence of the Columbia River within sight. The area enjoys 250 days of sunshine a year and only a few inches of rain to quench its thirsty, sandy soils (18 inches to 5 feet deep) of which the dreaded Phylloxera root aphid abhors. Jack Kelly oversaw the original design of the on-site 14,000-barrel winery with a separate “experimental” winery that was originally overseen by Master of Wine, Bob Betz. Today, the vineyard provides the chardonnay, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon as part of the “single vineyard” portfolio for Chateau Ste. Michelle’s wines.
This wine is actually part of Canoe Ridge Vineyard (the winery), which is NOT a subsidiary of Stimson Lane Vineyards and Estates. More like…the Chalone Group of California, which also holds Sagelands Winery, which is rumored to be for sale. Ned Morris is the current winemaker and the winery has a tasting room in, where else?, Walla Walla.
Canoe Ridge Vineyard wines have been on “fire sale” in the last year, often at $15 prices at QFC, so when I saw this bottle at Trader Joe’s recently, I instantly scooped it up, thinking I was supporting a Washington winery. I was dismayed, to say the least, when I just found out this winery belongs to an larger entity further down south. Such is the blurring of lines that is more common than you think in the wine industry. I expect more of these shenanigans to continue as the economy “resets” the business climate.
But, think about it, you shop at Trader Joes and see a “Canoe Ridge” wine, despite the odd label design of three fish on the label, for $9.99. What wino would not pass that up? I didn’t. And, I am still glad I didn’t. This is a good deal. Granted, I admit the wine tastes better chilled (under 60 degrees). For the price, I am willing to overlook the sometimes “odd” flavors and alcohol bloom.
For those who attempted to play the guessing game on Twitter, I admit, this was a difficult one, BUT you could have nailed it IF (1) you shop at Trader Joes—hint: get the dark chocolate-covered raisins!; and (2) you read “The Wine Project” by Ronald Irvine and Dr. Walter Clore. Oh…your oversight cost you a juicy bottle of Quilceda Creek, Leonetti Cellar, Rasa Vineyards, DeLille Cellars’ Chaleur Estate, etc. But, thanks for playing da wineman’s ‘Guerilla Trivia’!
Tonight’s food pairing was good ol’ marinated short ribs from my neighborhood supermarket. Pretty good on its own, but for whatever reason, the two didn’t “play” well together. The wine itself evolved throughout the three hours I gave it to fully display itself. As this wine is a dedicated version found only at Trader Joes, I assume this is the “leftovers” from their regular label ubiquitously found in areas indigenous to paying wine consumers of the greater Seattle area.
Alcohol: 14.2%. Columbia Valley AVA. Tasted at a range from 54 to 68 degrees F on the IR temp gun. Trout Trilogy, the artwork, “was illustrated on Mexican bark paper by Pacific Northwest artist Monica Stobie. Stobie’s love for fishing and the pictoglyphs native to eastern Washinton provided the inspiration…” Essences of blackberry crème and high tones of oak set the table for a roller coaster ride of flavors. At temps below 60, sharper flavors of black cherry and blackberry intertwine with secondary oak nuances. At temps above 60, black cherry alternates with blackberry while in a cloud of heat. There’s enough tannins to leave a moderate astringency on the sides of the mouth. Good color of dark magenta. Music pairing: “It’s All In The Game” by Tommy Edwards. Rated: 88. Value: $12. Paid: $10. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.