The wines of Woodward Canyon   
From Walla Walla, Washington State, USA


I tasted through this range of wines with owner Rick Small. Woodward Canyon was the second winery in the region after Leonetti. Their focus is on Bordeaux varieties, but they also make Chardonnay and Syrah.

Rick started making wine back in 1976 as a home winemaker, and then started the winery in 1981 with his first commercial release. His background is agricultural: his mother's side are fifth generation and his father's side are third generation cattle and wheat farmers.

Two lines of wines are made: Woodward Canyon and second-label Nelms Road. Total production is around 17 000 cases annually.

Woodward Canyon Chardonnay 2007 Washington State
One-third estate vineyards, two-thirds from vineyards with a long-term relationship with the grower. Fermented in barrels, 20% of which are new. Lovely ripe, balanced nutty Chardonnay with really fresh, expressive fruit. Very stylish with sophisticated oak. Harmonious. 92/100 ($39 US retail)

Nelms Road Merlot 2008
14.1% alcohol. Mellow, soft and expressive with berryish fruit and lovely ripeness. Smooth tannins and a hint of chalkiness, as well as a bit of leafiness. Rich but well balanced. A sophisticated Merlot. 90/100

Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
14.1% alcohol. Lovely fresh blackcurrant nose with nice sweetness and a chalky edge. The palate is smooth and concentrated with lovely tannin management. Soft, silky and structured at the same time. A seductive style, but showing balance. 90/100

Woodward Canyon Merlot 2007 Columbia Valley
Warm, intense, spicy nose with nice sweet berry fruits. The palate is concentrated with lovely structure, showing sophisticated spicy oak and some minerality. Rich but balanced. 92/100

Woodward Canyon Artist Series #16 Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Very refined minerally, spicy nose showing lovely dark fruits. The palate is lush and seamless with intense berry fruit, some spiciness and lovely savoury intensity on the finish. Ripe and full, but expressive. 93/100

Woodward Canyon Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Not made every year, this comes from the oldest vineyards (around 40 years old). Savoury, intense, minerally spicy nose. The palate is broad and lush, spicy and complex, with a mineral core top the structure. The sweet berry fruit is mellow and appealing. It's quite warm but has engaging complexity and personality. 94/100

wines tasted 05/10
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