L’Ecole Chenin Blanc

L'Ecole Chenin Blanc on DeckAre you looking for a summer sipper at an excellent price point? Look no further. L’Ecole Chenin Blanc is a standout, and it costs less than $20. Moreover, L’Ecole has produced this old-vine Vouvray-style Chenin Blanc since 1987.

Winemaker Marcus Rafanelli crafted this recent 2020 vintage, released last month, and it is superb. You can pair it with any number of dishes, but it also goes down very well on its own.

As you can see, we paired it with our deck, lakeside. Read on for more details.

L’Ecole 41

L'Ecole Chenin BlancL’Ecole is the third oldest winery in Walla Walla, founded in 1983 in an historic schoolhouse. The restored tasting room is in a classroom, with original chalkboards, light fixtures, fir floors and moldings. One of the most honored wineries in Washington state, L’Ecole generates national and international accolades every year for producing superior quality wines. For example, Wine & Spirits Magazine named L’Ecole “Winery of the Year” more than a dozen times. We are part of L’Ecole’s education collaboration program, and taste a different wine every month. So we know firsthand why these many accolades are so well-deserved.

L’Ecole Chenin Blanc 2020 Old Vines Yakima Valley

L'Ecole Chenin BlancL’Ecole started making Chenin Blanc just four years after the winery opened its doors. Three Yakima Valley vineyards, all planted in 1979, source the fruit in the 2020 vintage: Willard Farms, Upland Vineyard and Phil Church. L’Ecole General Manager Constance Savage told a Zoom meeting that L’Ecole makes “15% of Washington State’s production of this esoteric grape.” This Chenin Blanc is also their only wine sourced from grapes in the Yakima Valley AVA.

This is the first time Marcus made Chenin Blanc, but you wouldn’t know it. It is gorgeous. We aren’t surprised because he is known for his white wines. For instance, his Viognier at William Church Winery generated numerous awards. We tasted most of the vintages, and applaud him.

Meanwhile, this expressive Chenin Blanc is a glass of summer. Aromatics of lemon peel, stone fruit and honeysuckle lead into opulent flavors of tropical fruits such as kiwi and guava, in addition to melons, apples and a long, tart citrus-and-mineral finish. This white wine also features a beautiful mouthfeel, wonderful texture, good structure and good acidity.

Overall, this is a food-friendly, versatile wine. Pair it with seafood, sushi, pasta, spicy dishes, turkey or grilled pork. But we agree with Marcus, who said, “This wine doesn’t need food. Just drink it on your porch by itself.” So we did.

In other words, pair it with your deck and raise a glass to summer!

Summary: L’Ecole Chenin Blanc

In conclusion, we might make this Chenin Blanc our house white wine this summer. Except we’ll drink it on the deck, lakeside, not in the house! And at $17 a bottle, this is a steal of a deal. Thank you, L’Ecole, for the sample. We will be buying more.

Previous stories about L’Ecole 41:

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Margot and Dave

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About Margot

Margot has been writing about wine since 1997 at KOIN-TV in Portland, Oregon; ten years later, she created this blog. Write for Wine focuses on the fine wines of Washington state, with additional posts about Oregon, B.C., California, ANZ, France, Italy, Spain and more. A former national journalist in Canada and the U.S., Margot has been a Washington wine enthusiast since moving to Seattle in 1999. Her motto: “It’s wine o’clock somewhere.”