L’Ecole No. 41 Estate Grown Merlot, Walla Walla Valley 2017

Deep ruby color; cherry, cranberry, cedar, oak spice on the nose; dark fruit, black cherry, raspberry, minerality, peppercorn, chocolate on the palate.

L’Ecole No. 41 Estate Grown Merlot, Walla Walla Valley 2017

Dry; very tasty tannins and balancing acidity (3.66 pH). Right bank Bordeaux blend of 79% merlot, 17% cabernet franc, 4% cabernet sauvignon. Hand harvested, gently crushed in 1.5 ton stainless steel fermenters. Hand punchdowns. Racked and finished in small French oak barrels, 35% new; four rackings over 18 months; 14.5% ABV.

Grapes sourced equally from the fractured basalt of the estate Ferguson vineyard and the wind-blown loess of estate Seven Hills vineyard. The vineyards are certified sustainable and certified salmon safe.

Baker and Jean Ferguson founded the winery in 1983 in the Walla Walla Valley, just the third winery in the Valley. It is housed in the historic Frenchtown School, which appears on the label. L’Ecole wines focus on quality and typicity of Washington State and the Walla Walla Valley. The Ferguson’s daughter, Megan, and her husband, Marty built on the Ferguson’s legacy. A third generation, Riley and Rebecca, participate in the winery today.

L’Ecole founders Jean and Baker Ferguson

The website notes: “Our focus is to produce ultra-premium, distinctive wines that reflect the unmistakable typicity of Washington State and the unique terroir of our Walla Walla Valley vineyards.  We are engaged in growing and making 100% of our wine.  Each bottle is handcrafted with a commitment to quality in the vineyards and the winery.  More than three decades of winemaking experience, ongoing investments in our Walla Walla Estate Ferguson and Seven Hills Vineyards, and long-term relationships with many of the most prominent vineyards in Washington State are central to our well-known reputation for quality and consistency across our wine portfolio.”

Marty and Megan Clubb, second generation owners of L’Ecole

Marty Clubb is the co-owner, with his wife Megan, and managing winemaker today. Wine & Spirits magazine has recognized L’Ecole as a Top 100 winery for 15 consecutive years. In 2014, Decanter praised their 2011 Estate Ferguson as the best Bordeaux in the world.

Very old vines are a key to L’Ecole success. Many were planted in the 1970s and 1980s. Winery literature notes: “Meticulously managed to L’Ecole specifications, we farm the same vineyards and specific blocks of fruit each year with the goal of achieving the highest level of quality. These efforts contribute significantly to the trustworthy reputation of our wines vintage after vintage.”

L’Ecole No. 41 Estate Grown Merlot, Walla Walla Valley 2017 is impressive, merlot-dominated Boredeaux blend with 17% cab franc and 4% sauv cab to add drama and interest. There is a lot going on to enjoy is this wine which delivers depth and complexity while also being tasty and easily approachable for serious red wine lovers. Pair with beef dishes—grilled or roast beef, filet mignon; grilled or roast chicken; roast pork and pork loin; lamb; blue cheese, cheddar, gorgonzola cheese. $39

L’Ecole website

Clubb family, second and third generations at L’Ecole: Riley, Rebecca, Marty, Megan
L’Ecole Ferguson vineyard
L’Ecole Steven Hills vineyard
L’Ecole Pepper Bridge vineyard
L’Ecole Walla Walla Valley
L’Ecole Columbia Valley
L’Ecole extolls virtues of Washington State vineyards
L’Ecole Winery in old schoolhouse
L’Ecole tasting area
L’Ecole harvest
L’Ecole winemaking team
L’Ecole owner and winemaker Marty Clubb with viticulturist Mike Sharon