October is the 9th annual global Merlot Month, and what better way to celebrate than with the grape that put L’Ecole on the map in 1983. Therefore, we opened two 2018 wines crafted by L’Ecole: white-label Walla Walla Valley Estate Merlot and black-label Columbia Valley Merlot. However, these two are very different, and not just their price point. First, they come from different vineyards. Next, they feature unique blends. Above all, they are both delicious. Read on for details.
For the last nine years, wine lovers and producers around the world have celebrated Merlot Month. Throughout October, we drink Merlot in tasting rooms, restaurants and at home. Meanwhile, participating wineries offer specials, events and promotions. As well, using the hashtag #MerlotMe, wine lovers post their favorites on social channels. This year, we opened two standout Merlots from L’Ecole, recognized as one of Washington state’s top producers of this beautiful grape.
L’Ecole Estate Merlot 2018, Walla Walla Valley ($37)
This white-label estate wine is terroir-driven. It’s a 50-50 blend of fruit from Seven Hills Vineyard and Ferguson Vineyard. Seven Hills brings silkiness, elegance and old-world structure, while Ferguson provides power and earthiness. In the same vein, Ferguson comprises fractured basalt soil with big-iron minerality. Meanwhile, Seven Hills’ soil is wind-blown loess. Both are Certified Sustainable and Certified Salmon Safe.
This is an opulent combination of 84% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromatics of cherries, plums, blackberries and figs mirror the flavors on the palate, with notes of graphite, charcoal, dark chocolate and vanilla. This age-worthy wine pairs well with steak, short-ribs and lamb, and is often sold to restaurants. On the other hand, the Columbia Valley version is widely available to consumers in most states.
L’Ecole Columbia Valley Merlot 2018 ($25)
Don’t let this lower price point fool you. Remember, L’Ecole is known for both quality and value. This black-label wine is a lovely expression of the grape. It’s chock full of flavors, great structure and complexity. Certainly, the blend is somewhat different than the white label. The backbone of 80% Merlot is combined with 14% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot.
Subsequently, layers of red fruit flavors, along with hints of smoky cedar and minerality, entice the palate. In addition, vineyards from three AVAs contribute to this beauty: Walla Walla Valley, Candy Mountain and Red Mountain. This wine is approachable and versatile in food pairings.
In conclusion, we highly recommend you celebrate Merlot Month with both 2018 Merlots produced by L’Ecole — Walla Walla Valley Estate Merlot and Columbia Valley Merlot. Moreover, you can pop the corks on these outstanding bottles any time of year, not just this month! Learn more and buy them on the winery’s website. Other fun facts: L’Ecole is the third winery to open in Walla Walla, and the 20th in Washington state.
As mentioned in previous posts, we are collaborating with L’Ecole in a 2021 wine education program. So these pretty wines are among several samples we taste throughout the year. That is to say, L’Ecole offers dozens of varieties in their portfolio. For instance, in addition to Merlot, the winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Bordeaux blends, Sémillon, Rosé and more. Likewise, the full list of their wines is available at their website.
Previous stories about L’Ecole 41:
- L’Ecole Syrah
- L’Ecole Luminesce
- Chenin Blanc
- L’Ecole Wine Production
- Estate Syrah and Sustainability
- 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
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Margot and Dave