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How to Bordeaux. WAWGG February 2008 Gordon Hill . Washington in the early 80’. Maps comparing Washington to France Latitude = comparable growing conditions The need to compare, no history for Washington wines, Bordeaux became benchmark. Similar Growing Conditions?.

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How to bordeaux

How to Bordeaux

WAWGG February 2008

Gordon Hill


Washington in the early 80

Washington in the early 80’

  • Maps comparing Washington to France

  • Latitude = comparable growing conditions

  • The need to compare, no history for Washington wines,

  • Bordeaux became benchmark


Similar growing conditions

Similar Growing Conditions?


Harvest decisions

Harvest decisions

  • Optimum ripe fruit was 23.5 brix, would pick 22.5- 24.0

  • Wines therefore had similar alcohols and acids to French wines


Perfect climate

“Perfect Climate”

  • New goal “make worlds best wine from Columbia valley fruit”

  • I (we ?) no longer compare Washington wines and measure them against Bordeaux wines.

  • Because……..


Evolution of wine grape growing

Evolution of wine grape growing

  • Realized Washington has its own unique grape growing climate

  • Water management as tool to control canopies and crop size

  • Unique appellations and site selection

  • Experience of Wine grape growers and Winemakers


Riper grapes

Riper grapes

  • Riper fruit at harvest as measured by brix leads to distinct Columbia Valley fruit and wine characteristics

  • Softer acids, higher etoh, ripe tannins helps us achieve wines with fruit forward characters and distinct softness on palate

  • We can wait to pick because of our harvest conditions


Washington bordeaux

Washington Bordeaux

  • Blending of varietals

  • Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc

  • Newer tools (varietals) Malbec and Petite Verdot


Washington bordeaux1

Washington Bordeaux

  • Blend wines from different appellations as each AVA can have its own unique characters

  • Main factors within an AVA (vineyard)

    • Aspect or slope

    • Soil, type, depth

    • Wind exposure

    • Wine grape grower water and canopy management, crop size


Horse heaven hills

Horse Heaven Hills

  • Vineyards with closer river proximity are softer fruit forward good to use for fruit impression front palate.

  • Vineyards with less sand and more loam can be highly structured, robust, deeply colored, provides a long finish.


Wahluke slope

Wahluke Slope

  • Warm growing area

  • Many of the wines are fruit forward with jammy ripe characters, dark colors, soft tannins, provide soft tannins to middle of palate.


Red mountain

Red Mountain

  • Warm growing area

  • Big wines deeply colored, add structure “backbone”, finish is long, and flavors of ripe dark stone fruits,


Walla walla

Walla Walla

  • Many unique vineyard sites and soil types.

  • Most have deep rich soils with some slope

  • Recently the rocky areas are being planted.

  • Elegant wines with finesse, dried herbs, pomegranate, dusty malt


Yakima valley

Yakima Valley

  • Most vineyard sites on South facing slopes

  • Wines have bright fruits, soft tannins, harmonius middle palate, “quaffability factors”

  • Use to flesh out front and middle palates, bring up fruit notes


Columbia valley

Columbia Valley

  • Tri City 3 Rivers area

  • Good source to get grapes from older vineyards

  • Wines vary in styles from fruit forward to dark complex, lots of good black cherry aromas and flavors, ripe plum notes Merlot,


Ava blending strategy

AVA blending strategy

  • 20% HH CS: structure, finish

  • 20% RM CS: structure, finish

  • 15% WS MR: ripe fruit middle palate

  • 5% WS PV: color aroma finish

  • 20% WW MR: elegance finesse

  • 20% YV MR: bright fruit drink ability

  • 5% CV MB: color, entry and middle


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