If school were like this, I’d have gotten my doctorates degree! L’Ecole 41, French for “The School” district 41 is more appropriately named, “Je t’aime” for the love that it induces upon first sip. Situated in a schoolhouse built in 1915, L’Ecole teaches a master class in Washington wine class, style and marketing. Until the recent changes to Highway 12 in Walla Walla, every visitor entering Walla Wall from the West drove past the distinct schoolhouse tasting room which beckoned all inside for an enological education.
Operated by Megan and Marty Clubb, L’Ecole offers a 27 year lesson plan on Washington Wine. In previous reviews the L’Ecole Columbia Valley Cab finished 2nd in a 5 wine Cabernet shootout (4/5) and the 2007 Perigee was my June wine of the month (4/5). I recently enjoyed their 2007 Syrah, but sadly the bottle was gone before it could make its way to a review.
Visitors to their tasting room can enjoy a 1.3 acre working vineyard and tasting in two restored school rooms. Don’t worry; the Vice Principle is not around to slap your hands if you taste incorrectly. Have fun and write on their unique chalkboard counters while you’re there. Exploring the schoolhouse is half the fun while visiting L’Ecole.
As a side note, I’m experimenting with a new video format. Not sure why the video didn’t render across the full frame. If anyone knows Adobe Premiere Elements, let me know.
2008 L’Ecole 41 Luminesce
- The Stuff: 70% Semillon, 30% Sauvignon Blanc from Seven Hills Vineyards, aged 4 months in neutral French oak barrels. 30% malolactic fermentation; 14.2%ABV
- The Swirl: A pale yellow honey in the glass that strikes a chord of gold
- The Sniff: Tropics and pear on the nose. Not an over the top presentation but can definitely pick out the Sauvignon Blanc characteristics added to this blend.
- The Sip: Nice gentle approaching soft fruit on the front of the tongue that opens up to a full embrace on the mid palate. An amazingly bright acidity finishes off this wine. The flavors are not overwhelming but the presentation is well balanced and thoughtful.
- The Score: At only $20 (and often less on sale or in the store), this is a super wine. I love the mix if characteristics from the Semillon and Sauv Blanc. This wine easily scores a 4/5. Find it under $15 and you’ve got a 4+/5
91 Pts Wine Enthusiast; 89 Pts Steven Tanzer
2007 L’Ecole 41 Seven Hills Merlot
- The Stuff: 81% Merlot, 11% Cab Sauv, 8% Cab Franc from Seven Hills vineyard. Aged 18 months in 40% new oak, 14.5%ABV; 1326 cases produced
- The Swirl: Good thick color presentation of plum and dark cherry but has about 60% opacity. Nice strong color to the edges.
- The Sniff: Dominate musty earth and grassy herbs that give way to dried cherry and black berry fruit. A moderate amount of cinnamon and cloves are present as well. From the video to further in the night the wine opened up into a more robust aroma of cherry (which I would expect) and vanilla.
- The Sip: A muscular merlot with good dried fruit, earthy terroir, dark fruit and mild tannin. Those that enjoy a subtle elegant merlot may find this more intriguing.
- The Score: At $37 it is more than most people would drop for a Merlot they haven’t tasted. If you’re looking for a bright cherry vanilla Merlot, you may want to pass, but if you’re after a warm earthy muscle Merlot, give it a go. Decanting this wine is recommended. 3+/5
92 pts Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt); 91 pts Wine Advocate
2007 L’Ecole 41 Apogee
- The Stuff: 60% Cab Sauv, 30% Merlot 6% Malbec, 4% Cab Franc; 22 months in 50% new oak. 1630 cases produced, 14.5% ABV
- The Swirl: Thicker and slightly cloudy in color with dark purple tones. No jewelry here.
- The Sniff: A medium brightness of black berry and black cherry fruits along with subtle hints of cocoa and earthiness.
- The Sip: Big boy wine with a good firm structure of dark fruits and strong chalky tannin. If you’re looking to sip now, decant for several hours. Would recommend this wine as a special cellar project to pull out in 2013 when it would be more smooth and elegant. Great layers of fruit and firmness.
- The Score: At $50 a good percentage of people will not risk their money without a sample or a strong recommendation. The Apogee is not quite the pinnacle of what it is shooting for but it will be there in 3-5 more years. I score this a 4/5 based on potential.
*Wine was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review