Let’s call this post an epilogue on my visit to Oregon last summer. I drove from Oregon to Regina, Saskatchewan to finish off my summer road trip last year. I couldn’t resist making he pit stop in Walla Walla, Washington. Apart from being one of the most fun places to say in America, it is also in the heart of Washington Wine country. There are several wineries in the area, but when I was doing my research on where to stop it as nearly universal that L’Ecole No. 41 was at the top of many lists.
This winery is a mid sized winery producing just over 40 000 cases of wine. The portfolio has a focus on Bordeaux varietals. But the whole portfolio is solid with Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Syrah all are at home here. Vineyards were planted in the early 90’s which means the oldest vineyards would be entering full maturity. On the day I dropped in I was able to taste from a bottle of 2002 Apogee which is a Bordeaux blend made up of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. The nose was a little meaty, but still offered a lot of black cherry and raspberry aromas and flavours. Even being fifteen years old this wine still has a few years left in its life. This wine was very well put together.
2015 Chenin Blanc – **** – $14USD – This bottle offers great value to get your foot in the door at the winery. Aromas are rich and crisp and all kinds of citrus. On the palate this opens to apple with a nice mineral note that opens up on the mid palate. Bright crisp acidity brings up the finish on this wine leaving the palate refreshed and ready for the next sip.
2014 Semillon – ****+ – $14USD – The nose is a little heavy with orange, tangerine and a slight white flower flourish rounds out the package. The flavours on this match the nose with nice concentration and a great acid backbone keeps this wine light on the palate in spite of the heavy nose.
2014 Chardonnay – ****+ – $24.00USD – The world would be a better place with more Chardonnay like this. There is nice restraint and balance with use of Oak in this bottle as 30% of the wood is new. Soft flavours and aromas of green apple, yellow apple and baking spice fill your mouth. There is nice weight on the mid palate. This wine finishes with nice acidity and a lingering note of vanilla.
2013 Syrah – ****+ – $36USD – ****+ – This wine is pure elegance and a great example of cool climate Syrah. Aromas of cracked black pepper with perfectly ripe red fruit. The palate is refined and soft with blackberry, currant and a nice smoky note. The finish brings up the freshly cracked black pepper from the nose. A nice acid backbone keeps this wine in perfect balance.
2013 Apogee – $54USD – ****+ – This is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec. The aromas of pencil shaving and black fruit make this wine seem like it’s coming from somewhere hot, but when you take your first sip you can see that this is cool climate winemaking at its finest. The depth of fruit flavours checks every box on what you might expect from these varietals from black currant, blackberry, raspberry, wild strawberry and a nice cedar note brings up the finish. In short this wine is soft, restrained and elegant – something that is approachable now, but should age for 10-15 years in a cellar.
2013 Perigee – $54USD – ****½ – This is a blend of 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 9% Malbec and 6% Petit Verdot. This wine starts strong with nice concentrated and complex aromas of raspberry, cherry, blackberry and woodsmoke. It will feel like this nose goes for days … and the concentration of flavours continues on the palate. But then as the wine starts to finish something changes and this becomes soft and elegant like liquid velvet on the palate. This wine is definitely something that should develop nicely in a cellar for the next 10-15 years.