It’s happened to all of us. You have a wonderful experience at a specific time in your life but then things change and you move on. You remember, but you are occupied with many new wonderful experiences.
That happened to us with the wines of L’Ecole No 41, the third-oldest winery in Washington state. We first visited the winery in the old school house in Lowden, near Walla Walla, in April 2007. A few months later, this blog was born and one of my first posts, titled Who knew that “back to school” could be so much fun?, described a L’Ecole tasting at Vino Bello.
Almost three years later, we reunited with our wonderful old friend when L’Ecole sent us some bottles of current releases to sample. What a school reunion – we tasted five wines and they were all magnificent! (I would say they received an A, but that’s too corny!)
First, the two 2006 blends, Apogee and Perigee. Regular readers of this blog know I’m a big fan of Bordeaux blends. And these two wines truly demonstrate what can happen when you combine old-world style and elegance with new-world grapes.
2006 Apogee blends grapes from Pepper Bridge Vineyard: 46% Cab Sauv, 42% Merlot, 8% Malbec and 4% Cab Franc. When Pepper Bridge fruit is used, wines tend to be highly structured and bold. Suffice it to say we loved 2006 Apogee! But … my palate loved 2006 Estate Perigee even more.
That’s because 2006 Estate Perigee is heavier on the Cabernet: 56% Cab Sauv, 35% Merlot and 10% Cab Franc. Perigee is a blend of fruit from the oldest blocks of L’Ecole’s Seven Hills Vineyard, “renowned for its rich elegance, seductive aromas and complex, silky finish.” Yes, those are the words on the bottle, and I couldn’t describe it better myself. Of the five wines, Perigee is my favorite.
Since we were so pleased with these two bottles from L’Ecole, we decided to continue trying their other offerings. Next up, 2006 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – dense dark fruit with a spicy finish. Wow! We absolutely adore this Cab and are thinking about purchasing it.
We then moved onto 2007 Estate Syrah, 100% Syrah from three blocks in Seven Hills Vineyard. If you prefer rich, robust, big and earthy Syrahs, this one is for you. One sip and you’ll see why this Syrah was awarded 90 points from Wine Spectator, 91 from Wine & Spirits and 92 from Wine Enthusiast. We paired it with a savory roast, which was perfect. But in the summer, it will most definitely accompany our barbeques.
Finally, we also enjoyed the 2007 Estate Merlot; interestingly 81% Merlot was blended with 11% Cab Sauv and 8%Cab Franc, which gave it a unique rich and complex flavor.
These five wines underline why Wine & Spirits honored L’Ecole No 41 as a regional Winery of the Year for eight consecutive years, achieving status in the magazine’s Hall of Fame. From a marketing perspective, the winery also has a great tag line: “Think Walla Walla – Drink L’Ecole.”
I suspect our reunion with this winery is going to last a long time.