When I heard that Woodward Canyon was going to be featured at a Winemaker Dinner hosted by Andaluca Restaurant, I couldn’t believe how great the timing was. Roger’s birthday is in April, so this would make a great birthday gift! So, on Friday, April 23rd, we headed to Andaluca to drink some great Walla Walla wine. What could be better than that? Having that wine paired with food prepared by Chef Wayne Johnson, of course!
Kevin Mott, Woodward Canyon wine maker since 2003 vintage, has changed his approach to Chardonnay over the years, in order to highlight the fruit. He currently uses only 20% new French oak during fermentation. As a result, the Woodward Canyon 2008 Chardonnay is a crisper wine than prior vintages. The food pairing for this Chardonnay was Panzanella Salad. Chef Wayne made it extra special by topping it with fresh Chinook salmon caught by Paul, one of the Andaluca team. This Walla Walla Chardonnay retails for $44.
The 2008 Estate Sauvignon Blanc came next. This Washington wine has some bright acidity with a slight chalky/mineral finish. This Washington Sauvignon Blanc was well suited for the cherry tomatoes and frisee accompanying the Seared Scallops. Since I like to experiment with food and wine pairings, I had saved some of the Chardonnay from the previous course. The Woodward Canyon Chardonnay also paired nicely with the scallops. The Woodward Canyon Estate Sauvignon Blanc sells for $26.
Wow! The 2007 Columbia Valley Merlot is phenomenal. Seriously, this Washington Merlot is for the private stash. On the palate, I picked up cherries, vanilla, and oak. The buttery mouth feel and long, elegant finish are still fresh in my memory. Maybe it’s the 14% Cabernet Sauvignon blended in that gives it intriguing complexity. The influence of the temperate 2007 vintage must play a part as well. Of course, Kevin Mott’s winemaking skills clearly contribute to the end product. That could be why even though the alcohol surprisingly hits the 15% mark, it doesn’t overwhelm the wine. The Woodward Canyon 2007 Merlot retails for $39. Its quality makes it well worth the price tag.
This Washington Merlot is so good, I was almost willing to drink it entirely on its own. However, that would mean going without Chef Wayne’s Phyllo Bastilla topped with Romesco Sauce to pair with the wine. Roger’s was filled with lamb, while mine was filled with fish, zucchini, and eggplant. Rick Small, Woodward Canyon owner, said he thought the lamb with the Merlot was the best pairing of the evening. However, he might have changed his mind when the next course came around.
The 2007 “Artist Series” Cabernet Sauvignon is loaded with ripe fruit and toasty oak, and has a nice, long finish. The food pairing for this wine was Buffalo Osso Bucco Style with onions, carrots, and demi-glace. The demi-glace was reduced three times, resulting in an extremely rich and potent sauce. This Washington Cabernet Sauvignon, from Woodward Canyon, goes for $49.
As a nice way to finish the dinner, Chef Wayne prepared a Lemon Souffle Cake. It was paired with a 2007 California Black Muscat.
By Washington standards, Woodward Canyon has been around a long time. Even so, the folks at the winery aren’t resting on their laurels. The Woodward Canyon Estate Vineyard now grows all grapes sustainably or organically. The vineyard is even designated as Salmon Safe. Although things change and time marches on, Woodward Canyon has a reputation for consistency in the quality of winemaking. This Washington winery established in 1981 still has it! Many thanks to people like Chef Wayne who do what they can to honor and celebrate such great winemaking.
*Updated 4/29/10: We had previously mis-identified Rick Small as the current wine maker at Woodward Canyon. Kevin Mott has the been the wine maker at Woodward Canyon since the 2003 vintage. Rick Small is the owner, former wine maker and current Director of Production of Woodward Canyon.