One of the storied Walla Walla wineries, I first set foot in the L’Ecole No. 41 tasting room back in 2002 as a Whitman College Senior. While I was only a tyro in my wine education, I recall my father telling me about the quality of their range of wines. I had also recognized this iconic schoolhouse on our dinner table before. As I was slowly building my database of tasting notes, I found myself going back to L’Ecole regularly to taste their wines. Year after year I was impressed with the consistency of their red and white wines, from Semillon and Chardonnay to Syrah and their red blends.
Fast forward more than ten years I found myself back at L’Ecole for a very special vertical tasting of their premier red blends. This was a great opportunity for me to taste some of L’Ecole’s older wines with their owner/winemaker Marty Clubb and new general manager Constance Savage. We tasted their ‘Apogee’ (Cabernet dominant blend sourced from the Pepper Bridge Vineyard), as well as their ‘Perigee’ (Cabernet dominant blend sourced from the Seven Hills Vineyard) and the ‘Ferguson’ (Cabernet dominant blend sourced from their Ferguson Vineyard). The vintages chosen were quite different, 2007 being warm, 2013 and 2016 being quite hot, while 2010 being quite cool. I loved how differently each vintage showed, as each 2010 wine was quite a bit more Bordelaise with herbal tones and less dark fruits (and 2011 Ferguson even more so). Another common theme was the overwhelming elegance of each wine — a testament to Marty’s winemaking. Since I began taking tasting notes for L’Ecole wines in 2004 I have found that Marty has a penchant for creating a great sense of minerality in his wines, which was evident throughout this tasting.
I was amazed by the 2007 L’Ecole wines. The 2007 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Apogee’ Red Wine (WWB, 94) is absolutely singing at the twelve year mark. The range of this wine is seriously good as this wine is drinking marvelously but will have an exceedingly long life in the cellar. I was also stunned by the 2013 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Perigee’ Red Wine (WWB, 94) which has wonderful, seamless quality on the palate. This warm vintage wine is shining brightly now but will cellar for another fifteen years. Finally, do not miss out on the incredible 2016 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Ferguson’ Red Wine (WWB, 94) which is incredibly vibrant in its youth and shows off this fantastic, high elevation site in the Walla Walla Valley. It was a truly fabulous tasting, inspired by top notch winemaking that showed off these very special vineyards. Learn more about these wines at https://www.lecole.com Here are my tasting notes from what was a beautiful retrospective of L’Ecole red wines.
‘Apogee’ Red Wine
2007 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Apogee’ Red Wine- The 2007 ‘Apogee’ is a compelling wine at the twelve year mark, The final blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Malbec and 4% Cabernet Franc which were all sourced from the Pepper Bridge Vineyard. The wine opens with a bouquet of red bell pepper, sage, red cherry candy and suggestions of coffee grounds. The palate shows a wonderful mouthfeel and a plush texture. Showing good brightness the wine unveils ripe dark fruit and red fruit flavors with an herbal edge. Outstanding now, it is hard to believe this is a twelve year old wine. This will age gracefully for the next two decades. Drink 2019-2035- 94
2010 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Apogee’ Red Wine- The 2010 ‘Apogee’ is a fantastic blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remainder Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. The 2010 ‘Apogee’ opens with lighter dark fruit aromatics with herbal undertones. The wine shows really good richness considering the coolness of the vintage. Red berry flavors with pipe tobacco and coffee grounds line the palate. The long finish entices. Enjoy this over the next decade. Drink 2019-2029- 92
2013 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Apogee’ Red Wine- The 2013 ‘Apogee’ is a stunning wine by L’Ecole. On the nose this takes on good herbal tones with black fruits and mocha underlining the bouquet. The palate shows tremendous poise and intensity with good weight. The texture is simply marvelous. Dense dark fruits connect with sagebrush and light herbal tones with a touch of. Chocolate. Stunning now, this rich yet elegant wine only an infant at the six year mark and has a long way to go. Drink 2019-2040- 94
2016 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Apogee’ Red Wine- The 2016 ‘Apogee’ is a compelling blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon with 25% Merlot and 11% Malbec with 4% Cabernet Franc. Showing off a deep core, this opens with a beautiful bouquet of red currant red cherry candy and blackberry cobbler with herbal undertones. The palate shows good mid-palate ripeness and freshness. Dark berry and mocha flavors with hints of violets mingle with great acidity. A long-ager, this brilliant wine will cellar well for fifteen years. Drink 2020-2035- 93
‘Perigee’ Red Wine
2007 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Perigee’ Red Wine- The 2007 ‘Perigee’ is sourced from the Seven Hills Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley and its a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot with the remainder Cabernet Franc. The wine is highly Bordelaise on the nose with red bell pepper and dried herbs that build in the glass. The palate shows great freshness considering the age of the wine. Red cherry, red bell pepper, anise and hints of s more all round out this beautiful wine. Brilliant now, this will continue to evolve well for the next fifteen years. Drink 2019-2030- 93
2010 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Perigee’ Red Wine- The 2010 ‘Perigee’ has 60% Cabernet Sauvignon blended with smaller portions Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The nose shows off very pretty aromas of red rose petal, mocha, cigar ash and red cherry puree. The palate exudes bright acidity with medium-bodied dark and red fruit flavors with earthy undertones. Balanced and highly poised, this will cellar well for decades. Drink 2019-2035- 92
2013 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Perigee’ Red Wine- The 2013 ‘Perigee’ Red Wine is a stunning release by L’Ecole. The wine is an impressive blend of. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller parts Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, the nose is quite powerful with blackberry jam, mocha anise and lovely herbal tones. Decadent black tea, blackberry cobbler, mocha and crushed mint flavors come together seamlessly in the glass. Seductive, yet balanced, this is a. Gorgeous release that is showing marvelously at this time. Drink 2019-2035- 94
2016 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Perigee’ Red Wine- The 2016 L’Ecole ‘Perigee’ Red Wine is another stunning bottling by the talented Marty Clubb. On the nose this is displaying brilliant dark fruit with graphite and mocha that all marvelously combine in the glass. The palate has wonderful freshness and intensity with moderate tannins that line this beautiful wine. Dark fruits mingle with minerals and creme de cassis flavors. Highly Bordelaise and downright delicious in its infancy, this gorgeous bottling has a long life in the cellar. Drink 2019-2035- 93
’Ferguson’ Red Wine
2011 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Ferguson’ Red Wine- This beautiful wine is sourced from the Ferguson Vineyard, which is set on Loess soils with fractured basalt perched underneath the Loess. The wine opens with light stone aromas with dark fruits and thyme that fill the nose. The palate has really good freshness and richness with blackberry cobbler, crushed mint, wet stone and moderate tannins. With vibrant minerality, this beautiful wine is drinking marvelously now but has a very long way to go Drink 2019-2035- 92
2013 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Ferguson’ Red Wine- The 2013 L’Ecole No. 41 Red Wine is a stunning release that shows the heat of the vintage, yet has wonderful restraint. The nose shows copious dark fruits with shads of sagebrush and milk chocolate. The palate has great verve and energy. With a beautiful mouthfeel. There is really good astringency as well with a nice salinity to this warm vintage red wine. The long finish lingers in this beautiful wine. Drink 2019-2040- 93
2014 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Ferguson’ Caberent Sauvignon- Released late, this 2014 ‘Ferguson Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon is a stunning new wine by L’Ecole No. 41. This starts off with deep dark fruits with sagebrush and creme de cassis that line the nose. The palate shows wonderful freshness and richness with mocha, anise, red bell pepper and tar flavors with lighter stony character. Delicious now, this beautiful wine is only in its infancy and will enjoy a very long life in the cellar. Drink 2020-2040- 94
2016 L’Ecole No. 41 ‘Ferguson’ Red Wine- This outstanding new release is a silky blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon with 26% Merlot and the reminder Cabernet Franc and Malbec. On the nose this takes on dark fruits with sagebrush and red bell pepper with coffee ground undertones. Black fruits and chocolate with roasted dates line this distinguished palate. Showing tremendous freshness and energy, this wine needs another year or two in the cellar to be fully expressive. Drink 2020-2035- 94