So Many Words

So many words about L'Ecole 41We have so many words to describe the wines crafted at pioneering Washington state winery, L’Ecole 41. For example, words like opulent, magical, stunning, elegant, and more. However, most of all, when we think of L’Ecole, we are constantly impressed with their consistent high-quality wines. Year in and year out, L’Ecole wines stand out. We don’t know anyone who doesn’t rave about their lineup of refreshing whites and luscious reds. Their Spring 2024 releases continue that trend of outstanding wine from Walla Walla.

So Many Words

Marcus Rafanelli L'Ecole So many wordsFounded in 1983 in an historic schoolhouse, L’Ecole 41 is a third-generation, family-owned artisan winery. A few years ago, talented and passionate winemaker Marcus Rafanelli  joined the team, and has been crafting impressive wines ever since. L’Ecole is one of the most honored wineries in WA, and has generated national and international accolades for superior quality wines. The wines we sampled underline the many reasons why these accolades are so well-deserved — and why we have so many words to describe them.

L’Ecole Spring 2024 Releases: So Many Words

L'Ecole Releases AllWe tasted six L’Ecole releases: 2023 Grenache Rosé and 2022 Sémillon Stillwater Creek, in addition to 2021 Estate Syrah, Estate Merlot, 50th Leaf Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, and Ferguson Estate. We appreciate all of them, but have a special fondness for the 50th Leaf Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon and 2021 Ferguson because we tasted tank samples of them last June. Their potential then was obvious. Subsequently, these two reds evolved beautifully.

Grenache Rosé 2023, Alder Ridge Vineyard ($20)

So Many Words L'Ecole Grenache Rose 2022Yes, it’s time to drink pink, and this 100% Grenache rosé is lip-smacking delicious and an incredible value at $20. L’Ecole grows Grenache specifically to produce a classic Provence-style rosé. A glass of this beauty has me dreaming about summer. Scents of strawberries, watermelon, mint and hints of grapefruit echo the palate. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, this rosé is clean, fresh and crisp with bright acidity and minerality. Pair it with seafood, spicy dishes or cheese boards. We could rosé all day with this one.

Sémillon 2022, Stillwater Creek Vineyard, Royal Slope ($25)

L'Ecole Semillon 2022This 100% single-vineyard Sémillon is rich, complex and elegant. The high-elevation, cool-climate site in the Royal Slope AVA results in natural acidity, lower sugars and pretty aromatics. We found layers of apricots, melons, figs, pears, lemongrass and hints of ginger and subtle oak. This warm-weather white would complement lemon chicken, ahi tuna or goat cheese. However, its outstanding quality and substance means you could also enjoy a glass, without food, on the deck on a warm day.

Merlot Estate 2021, Walla Walla Valley ($42)

L'Ecole Merlot Estate 2021L’Ecole is recognized as one of the state’s top producers of premium Merlot, and this vintage shows why. Marcus blended 82% Merlot with 14% Cab Franc and 4% Cab Sauv from two estate vineyards. The elegance and old-world structure of Seven Hills Vineyard adds complexity to the earthiness and minerality of Ferguson’s basalt soil. Consequently, opulent aromas and flavors of red and dark fruits and dark chocolate, threaded with graphite and spices, enticed us to pour another glass. But it’s a bit tight now, so be sure to decant it for a few hours if you don’t cellar it.

Syrah Estate 2021, Seven Hills Vineyard ($42)

L'Ecole Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2021This single-vineyard Syrah is magical, produced from some of the earliest Walla Walla Valley Syrah plantings. Syrah Estate 2021 combines savory aromas of blackberries, bacon, chocolate, and baking spices with bold, yet silky flavors of blackberries, nutmeg, black plums and more chocolate. It also features that Seven Hills elegance and structure. This Syrah is very drinkable now with decanting. Better yet, put it away for a few years and watch its flavors unfold.

So Many Words: Cabernet Sauvignon 2021, 50th Leaf Old Vines Bacchus Vineyard ($60)

So Many Words L'Ecole 50 Leaf Old Vines Cab Sauv 2021Last June, we described a tank sample of this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon as “already having that wow factor, and we can’t wait to see how it lands.” After tasting it now, we are still impressed and predict it will be a killer wine with a few more years on it. It’s exceptional already, and we can only imagine what words we will use after some time in the cellar. This Cab comes from remarkable 50-year-old vines in Bacchus Vineyard Block 3 in White Bluffs AVA. The old vines bring complexity and depth to this amazing wine. Aromas of blueberries, blackberries, graphite, chocolate, spices and coffee mirror the palate. Marcus calls these vines “coveted,” and notes this is the first and only time that the L’Ecole wine portfolio will include this special label. We are ordering more bottles.

Ferguson 2021, Estate Ferguson Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley ($75)

L'Ecole Ferguson Vineyard 2021We also tasted a tank sample of 2021 Ferguson last summer, and immediately knew it would be as stunning as previous vintages. The 2021 marks the 10th vintage since L’Ecole’s inaugural, award-winning 2011. Ferguson consistently features a crushed-stone minerality influenced by the vineyard’s volcanic basalt soil. This is an intoxicating blend of Cab Sauv (56%), Merlot (18%), Cab Franc (14%), Malbec (7%), and Petit Verdot (5%). The 2021 more than doubled the amount of Cab Franc, which makes it our favorite vintage yet. But make no mistake, Ferguson is always a head turner. On the nose, we found mineral-laced aromas of red and black fruit, licorice and chocolate. Next, the palate provides appealing layers of more black and red fruit, chocolate and graphite. You could drink it now, with decanting, but your patience will be rewarded if you wait at least five years.

Summary: So Many Words

In conclusion, L’Ecole’s spring releases exhibit the consistent high-quality that the Walla Walla winery is known for. You’ve seen the many words we have to describe them, including killer, knockout, head turner, exceptional, luscious and more. In addition to these spectacular wines, L’Ecole offers dozens of other varieties in their portfolio. The full list is available at their website.

Meanwhile, find us on Instagram and Facebook, and here, at Write for Wine – It’s Wine O’Clock Somewhere.

Margot and Dave