2007 Canoe Ridge Merlot Reserve Estate Block 13

Hello friends. Today we have another in our continuing exploration of the dusty cellars at Canoe Ridge. Excerpting from our offering of 2006 Cabernet back in May:

A series of coincidences (Full Pull offering the Waitsburg Cellars wines; an old friend changing jobs to work there) has led recently to multiple conversations with the folks at Precept Wines. One of those conversations was short and sweet:

“Would you be interested in some of the older vintages of Canoe Ridge wines?”

“Um, yes.”

This is a Washington winery/vineyard with a rich history that fell on hard times, and is hopefully now in the process of bring resuscitated by Precept. The Chalone Wine Group (out of California) partnered with a number of Washington investors in 1989 to plant Canoe Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. When the vines came online in 1994, Canoe Ridge Winery was formed.

It was a launching pad for many a successful winemaking career in Washington. Luminaries such as John Abbott (Abeja) and Kendall Mix (Corliss, Goose Ridge) plied their trade at Canoe Ridge and helped establish the winery’s reputation for soulful Cabs and Merlots.

But in 2004, Chalone was bought out by Diageo (a gigantor wine company based out of London), and that’s where things went south for awhile. As you’d suspect, Diageo was focused more on their new California holdings. Canoe Ridge was like Deep Space Nine: out on the frontier, nearly forgotten (and next to a wormhole?).

You can imagine the scene when Precept purchased the brand in 2011 and started exploring the winery cellars. I envision folks walking around with candelabras and blowing dust off old bottles, but the reality was probably considerably less exciting, involving considerably more fluorescent lighting. Regardless, there were buried treasures to be found, and Precept, eager to turn the page on the Diageo chapter of Canoe Ridge’s history, is looking to unload those treasures.

Enter Full Pull.

This wine, from the epic 2007 vintage in Washington, was $35 on release. Now, six years past vintage and entering peak drinking, we can offer it for a fraction of that.

The winemaker at Canoe Ridge in 2007 was Christophe Paubert, who has since moved on to man the winemaking helm at Stags’ Leap. This bottle comes from Block 13, among the oldest blocks of the vineyard (located here). It is a fine example of what gets folks so excited about Washington Merlot; namely the combination of stuffing, structure, and ageworthiness that is near-impossible to find outside of good right-bank Bordeaux.

This starts with a lovely nose of plum, dried cherry, and leather/cedar spice. The dried fruit and spice notes indicate a wine that is beginning to reveal some of its tertiary secrets. Lovely. Then we move onto the palate, which still has plenty of good fruit (dried cherry, redcurrant) mixed with Kahlua/espresso notes and earthy notes reminiscent of good clean soil. It’s very Merlot in its lush, cherry-fruited mid-palate, but it’s sneakily Cabernet-like as it rolls into its chewy, black-tea finish. Clearly this is Merlot for grown-ups, with depth, complexity, and seductive tannic power.

First come first served up to 24 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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