Next month I’m going to attend my fifth Wine Writer’s Conference in Walla Walla, Washington.
I’ve been to this AVA before, and visited many of their fabulous wineries. One of the flagships I’m looking forward to seeing again – indeed it has even earned a mention in the World Atlas of Wine – is L’Ecole No. 41.
Housed in a beautifully renovated heritage building complete with school bell, chalk boards (you can write on them at the tasting bar), and a playground, this is a winery with extremely knowledgeable hosts, and delicious wines.
Back in 2013, our tasting consisted of 8 wines, starting with the 2011 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend from the Seven Hills Vineyard showing kiwi, starfruit and lime, followed by the 2011 Chardonnay.
The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from their Walla Walla Vineyard (which actually stretches down across the border into Oregon), the 2009 Estate Périgée from Seven Hills Vineyard, and then the 2009 Apogée were next. From the Pepper Ridge Vineyard, the Apogée is a 60% Cabernet Sauvignon with 30% Merlot and Malbec offering grippy tannins, smoke, black plum, cherry and berries.
Washington State is well known generally speaking for their Syrah, and here we tasted two. From 2009 and 2010 – both were fruity and spicy with black pepper and olives, but it was the 2009 Estate Merlot from Seven Hills Vineyard that I bought a bottle of.
Ruby turning garnet in colour, there’s 12% each of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon blended into the Merlot. With 14.5% abv, you may expect it to be hot, but it’s nicely integrated and there’s no heat. Cedar, bramble, marionberry and java, along with a dusty set of tannins makes this WSET Very Good wine.