April 22 is Earth Day, and we raise a glass to Mother Earth with L’Ecole Estate Syrah 2018. Above all on this special day, L’Ecole 41 is a leader of the sustainable farming program in the Walla Walla Valley. All of L’Ecole’s estate wines are Certified Sustainable and Salmon Safe. Read on for more about L’Ecole Estate Syrah, sustainability, and our recent visit to the winery. In addition, come back soon for another post about L’Ecole Winemaker Marcus Rafanelli. He gave us a behind-the-scenes look at wine production, and a preview of his Grenache Rosé.
L’Ecole Estate Sustainability Practices
L’Ecole is proud to be at the forefront of sustainable farming in the Walla Walla Valley. Grapes on vines planted in healthy soils produce excellent wine. Moreover, in time for Earth Day, the Washington Winegrowers Association named L’Ecole’s Sadie Drury, viticulturist of Seven Hills Vineyard, as Winegrape Grower of the Year. “She is committed to growing the highest quality wine grapes possible while improving sustainable practices.”
Likewise, according to L’Ecole General Manager Constance Savage, Sadie believes that sustainability also focuses on safety for people who work in the vineyard. “There are lots of sustainability boxes to check off, but overarching is that Sadie is the caretaker of both the team and the vineyards.”
As well, Constance says Owner and Managing Winemaker Marty Clubb utilizes a number of key organic practices, with low impact, soft impact and targeted impact. Similarly, L’Ecole applies natural methods to control weeds and farm pests, and state-of-the-art precision agriculture technologies to efficiently apply deficit irrigation. This conserves about 50 percent in water savings. More information about L’Ecole’s methods can be found here.
Walla Walla Valley Wine Month
L’Ecole is celebrating Walla Walla Valley Wine Month, along with many others in the regions. So, now that we are vaccinated, we chose this month to visit Walla Walla for the first time since the pandemic began. Of course, we stopped first at L’Ecole 41. And as always, we walked out saying “Wow.” Once again, we tasted top-quality wine including L’Ecole Estate Syrah 2018 and the new Ferguson Estate release, along with a vertical of library vintages.
L’Ecole Estate Syrah Estate Seven Hills Vineyard 2018 ($36)
Winemaker Marcus Rafanelli notes that 2018 was a unicorn vintage with a beautiful growing season. Further, this 100% Syrah is different than many of L’Ecole’s other reds. Marcus explains that about 20% of the fruit was fermented in whole cluster on the stems, while his team gently crushed the remainder in stainless steel fermenters.
As a result, L’Ecole Estate Syrah is a beautifully integrated, balanced and complex wine. The bottle opens with savory aromas of olive tapenade, smoked meats and cedar, along with dark fruit and a hint of flowers. The luxurious flavors layer with blackberry, plum, espresso, dark chocolate and pepper. Further, this wine is lush and silky, and will cellar over the next eight to ten years. Pair L’Ecole Estate Syrah with steak, other grilled meat dishes, roasted lamb, mushroom risotto or lasagna. You could also simply sip it with blue cheese on the deck or in front of the fireplace, depending on the spring weather. Thank you, L’Ecole, for this sample as part of your wine education collaboration program.
L’Ecole Estate Ferguson 2018 ($70)
During our visit to the schoolhouse, L’Ecole released the 2018 Ferguson Bordeaux-style blend. Subsequently, we tasted this new release, along with a vertical. We took home both the 2013 and the 2018 vintages. Both are head turners. What a gorgeous, intoxicating wine – rich, complex and expressive. Ferguson 2018 blends Cabernet Sauvignon (55%) with Merlot (24%), Cabernet Franc (11%), and 5% each of Malbec and Petit Verdot. Layers of dark fruit flavors combine with notes of espresso, dark chocolate, licorice, graphite, spice and black tea. This beautiful blend also showcases minerality, influenced by the volcanic basalt soil from its namesake Ferguson Estate Vineyard, which L’Ecole planted with a focus on sustainability at the outset.
Similar to the 2018, Ferguson 2013 offers a flavor profile that is distinctly affected by its basalt soil. This vintage blends Cabernet Sauvignon (56%), Merlot (33%), Cabernet Franc (7%) and Malbec (4%). Consequently, notes of spices, herbs, chocolate and tea enhance the dark fruit flavors. And the crushed-stone minerality shines through.
L’Ecole Estate Syrah: Summary
In conclusion, we recommend toasting Earth Day with a glass of L’Ecole Estate Syrah, or any of their wines from their sustainable vineyards. We highly recommend L’Ecole, which is the third-oldest winery in Walla Walla, and also ls one of the most honored wineries in the state.
Meanwhile, come back to read our next blog post with a behind-the-scenes look at production by winemaker Marcus Rafanelli. And we’ll give you a sneak peak at his first Rosé for L’Ecole – Alder Ridge Vineyard Grenache Rosé 2020. (Hint – it’s delicious.)
Happy Earth Day!
Previous stories about L’Ecole 41:
- Artisan Wine by L’Ecole
- L’Ecole 41 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2017
- L’Ecole 41 2021
- Favorite 50 Wines in 2020
- Walla Walla’s L’Ecole 41
Margot and Dave