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Canoe Ridge Winery, Columbia Valley, Horse Heaven Hills, WA:

Dry Riesling and Cabernet Franc

At the recent spring sale at Bargain Grocery Outlet, I made some fabulous Washington wine scores. I'll be writing about Sagelands later. Right now, I want to tell you about two wines from Washington's Columbia Valley Horse Heaven Hills region, produced by Canoe Ridge Winery.

Canoe Ridge Dry Riesling 2007

This wine was very pale straw in the glass, with a citrus-honey note on the nose. This is dry, and pleasantly acidic, but while it is perfectly pleasant, it's also oddly flattened, and simplified in terms of taste. Yes, it's a definite Riesling, but it is as if the upper and lower ranges of flavor and aroma have been removed. It's dry, and quite enjoyable, but I'm not filled with any desire to buy more of it. When I can find Pacific Rim Dry Riesling at the same Bargain Grocery Store for $3.99, I'm going to buy the Pacific Rim, every time. And there are other excellent and quite affordable Washington state Rieslings from Columbia and Ste. Michelle. To be fair, 2007 is a little long in the tooth for a Washington Riesling at this level; I suspect a year or two earlier, this might have been a better wine. I'll certainly watch to see what Precept does, though they seem to be focusing on the Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons.

Canoe Ridge Cabernet Franc Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley Washington, 2005

I've been deliberately looking for Cabernet Franc to try, so I was delighted to find this Canoe Ridge Cabernet Franc 2005.

In the glass, Canoe Ridge Cabernet Franc is a beautiful deep red. It's very beautiful. The nose is ripe black raspberries, with a an earthy element, and even a hint of bitter chocolate. In flavor, this Canoe Ridge Cabernet Franc is fruity without being jammy. The aroma really does open up after a few minutes, to the point where it's hard to tell where the aroma ends and the flavor begins. There's a slight edge of tannin, and in the finish a definite hint of bitter chocolate (this may be what people who know what they're talking about refer to as "herbacious." This is the Cabernet Franc I've been looking for; this is the Cabernet Franc that provides structure to some of the red wine blends I've enjoyed, the varietal said by many to be crucial to traditional burgundy blends, and responsible for the characteristic aroma of French burgundy.

I was terribly fortunate to be able to pickup two bottles of this 14.5 ABV wine at the Bargain Grocery Outlet's spring sale for $5.99; I hope that Precept does well by the winery.