TN - 1995 L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot

1995 L’Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot- USA, Washington, Columbia Valley (4/11/2015)
Surprised…decanted for about an hour and it came out still showing very well with nice dark plum & cherry plus definite leafy notes, almost like dry eucalyptus. Colour is fading a bit and there was significant sediment in the bottle. A bit of leather and dark chocolate on the back end supported by very nice acidity. Will be looking for some more bottles

A complete steal in my book, great stuff for ~$20

Underrated winery.

And the regular Columbia Merlot can be utterly sublime…one of my early “wow” wine experience was a bottle of the 2000.

Keeping that in mind, many years later I noticed multiple older vintages listed on Winebid…ended up bidding and winning some of them for a song, $15-$20 each. While all were good to great, the 1996 was a literal an epiphany for me:

I have some vintages from the 2000s resting in the cellar, hoping for another epiphany.

We spent some time in Walla Walla when the '94’s were released. There was a different perspective of Washington state wine then. I have a sweatshirt from L’ecole that I still wear occasionally and an engraved magnum, unopened, that sits on a shelf. Then, there were only a half dozen or so wineries. We included the nearby Woodward Canyon on our trip along with the release day at Leonetti. I should mention that then, Leonetti merlot was $30 a bottle. I believe Apogee was selling for about the same.

Am I correct? Today, Walla Walla has more than 130 wineries? Some of their wine is among the best in the world…and Leonetti merlot is $80 or so per bottle.

And, the Wine Spectator once ran a cover feature with the title, “Who makes America’s best merlot?”

That was the start of international acceptance of Washington state wine.

Shouldn’t post this, but there are a ton of great 90s Merlots out there for a song, Woodward Canyon, Ste Michelle Cold Creek and Canoe Ridge Vineyards, L’Ecole, Northstar, Seven Hills, Quilceda’s Creek, among many others.

I like Bordeaux’s right bank wines, and there are lots of vintages where Northstar’s merlot was just as good as many mid/upper range ones to my tastes. I also remember having some impressive Andrew Will wines, although I don’t remember if they are from area. I remember hearing about l’Ecole’s wines, but don’t think I ever tried any. Thanks for the heads up.

I used to sell L’Ecole and enjoyed the reds as well as the Semillon and Chenin Blanc.

I’ve had some of their older Chenin (01 + 02) within the past year and a half and they were awesome. Some of their older bordeaux blends like Apogee and Perigee (I’ve had 01s and 02s) are sublime as well.

Most folks don’t really age their Washington wines like they should. Most of these are Bordeaux blends or syrahs, and these are wines that are going to be best after 10-15 years, but are mostly consumed in the first several years after release.