Frost paints the earth silver. Thermostats shrink. Chill seeps through windows.
Instead of turning to robust reds for comfort, Wayward Wine will steer you from conformity. A huge Cabernet would crush your Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas goose, or Matzo ball soup. Instead, share the season’s cold snap and turn to a rich winter white.
This Thursday, our palates race to the highest elevations in Washington State. The grapes in question grew an average of 1,300 feet above sea level. They come from wine’s newer fringes: Horse Heaven Hills and Rattlesnake Hills: regions certified only in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
All this elevation matters, because tonight’s winter grape is Riesling. As New York, Alsace, and Germany taught us, Riesling loves cold, bitter, miserably marginal climates (see post).
Eastern Washington, however, is a desert.
Sure, nights get cold, but days stay sunny, arid, and hot thanks to the Cascade Mountain rain-shield that blocks Pacific clouds. But the Vosges Mountains do the same to Alsace. And Alsace makes amazing Riesling.
So Canoe Ridge Vineyards climbed over 1,000 feet to Washington’s coolest, most windswept hills. I say climb-ed, because tonight’s Riesling is a fluke. It’s from 2007. Canoe Ridge doesn’t make Riesling anymore. Christophe Paubert made this wine, but only worked there from 2006 to 2008. He now runs Stag’s Leap. Yes. Stag’s Leap.
Five years past harvest, we crack open:
Canoe Ridge Vineyard, Dry Riesling, Snipes Vineyard, Columbia Valley, WA 2007
The clear, medium intense gold color betrays gaining age.
Dramatic, matured aromas glow with dried apricot, citrus, granite mineral, and classic Riesling’s note of woozy petrol.
Nary a gram of sugar survives this assertive, dry wine. Like its Alsatian ancestors, all that sugar became fat, 14.2% alcohol. Bright acidity still keeps this wine fresh and athletic. But the texture feels viscous and the body ripe.
Flavors hang in boldly, with notes of dried apricot, thick honey, pineapple juice, balanced by zippy lime peel and minerality that last a medium plus length.
Canoe Ridge’s 2007 Dry Riesling is Jean Claude Van Damme: 5(3) years past its prime, the sun set on its career long ago. But youth be damned! Taught acidity laughs at harnesses, complex flavors smirk at foot-ties, pure alcohol mocks sugar’s special effects.
No. This wine won’t give in. It wears it’s ’80s denim jacket with pride. Age has only improved what Wine Enthusiast gave 92 points years ago. The quality remains very good (4 of 5). $15.
But reset your hips and arc your mind back to the Holidays.
Although dry, this Riesling’s flavors, acids, and richness will roundhouse kick your quaint, local bakery’s pleasant bread pudding with pairing perfection.
Great insider post on Canoe Ridge’s Storied Past: Paul Gregutt
- Recent Sips: A Quartet of Finger Lakes 2012 Riesling Wines (vinespot.blogspot.com)
- 14 Great White Wines for Thanksgiving (drinks.seriouseats.com)
- Eroica: The “Gold” Standard for Washington Riesling (winepeeps.com)
- On the trail of great wine in New York’s Finger Lakes (usatoday.com)
- Finger Lakes Wine Region (red-wine-diva.com)
Sounds wonderful…….. Not able to find in Paso Robles, Ca. Area ):
We probably should not have found it either. But we learned that old, dry Rieslings can be amazing. One of the few whites that can age.
Photographic proof! Horse Heaven Hills grows wine grapes. After driving the gorge in the winter blasting wind snow storms, I can’t believe much would survive there! Family had a tree farm above gorge. Stags Leap, knows what he’s doing!
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