I have this really good friend who I’ve known for years. We both went to high school together and then we followed each other to college as well. We even went so far as to having our college graduation party together because we had so many of the same friends and our families knew each other well. Over the years I’ve become friends with his wife, who I also went to high school with, and have fallen in love with their two boys. So I always try to do something special for his birthday. Last year, I did a mini vertical of Walla Walla cabernets from 2000-2004. Not something I would recommend for three people, but it was a lot of fun and the wines were amazing. So this year I decided that I needed to do something even more special. After racking my brain I came across a 1998 “Old Vines” Cabernet from Woodward Canyon and decided that was just what I was looking for.
So the three of us made plans to get together over a nice dinner and crack open the bottle. It was fantastic! We paired the wine with a steak and potato dinner just like mom used to make. In the mouth, the wine was rich and still very powerful, with flavors of muted toasted oak and vanilla as well as raspberry, blackberry and a hint of the terroir that is typical of the Champoux Vineyard. It was well balanced and for being 10 years old it still had years of cellar time on it. The steak was hearty enough that the wine didn’t overpower it, leading to a wonderful pairing. We savored every last drop in the bottle and then wished we had three more to open.
The grapes were harvested entirely from Champoux Vineyard, planted in the 1970’s, above the Columbia River in southeastern Washington. The very warm growing season of 1998 gave incredibly ripe fruit with great richness and concentration. Champoux Vineyard consists of 170 acres of mixed varietals - cabernet sauvignon, lemburger, cabernet franc, syrah, merlot, riesling, muscat, and chardonnay. We, along with Quilceda Creek, Andrew Will, and Badger Mountain/Powers, are all partner wineries in the Champoux Vineyards along with Vineyard Manager, Paul Champoux. We primarily use Champoux fruit for our "Old Vines" Cabernet. The cabernet vines were planted in 1972, making them one of the oldest cabernet blocks in the state. The fruit produces extremely elegant and bright red cherry flavors which was evident in the 1998 vintage.
Then I gave him his “present” of the 2002 Woodward Canyon Estate Red to cellar for later. If you have not had a glass or bottle of the Estate Red you don’t know what you’re missing! This is definitely one of my favorite wines we produce here and the 2002 Estate Red is one of my favorite wines from the valley that vintage. It is a Bordeaux style blend entirely from our Estate Vineyard. This merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot blend has a soft generous texture that transitions to a supple, balanced mouth feel with a long and layered finish. This is a wine that can lay down, with proper cellaring, for 10+ years. And even though we are out of the 2002 vintage we still have plenty of the 2003 and 2005 available, both of which are excellent.
Needless to say he was pretty excited about the wines. It was a pretty special night that I will remember for a long time. I wouldn’t give or open a bottle like that for just anyone.
So happy drinking everyone! I hope you are all enjoying something special at this moment. If you are on facebook please friend us and keep up on what's going on out at the winery. And next time you are in the valley come see me in the tasting room!
Shari / Woodward Canyon Winery