Appellation: Columbia Valley
For those familiar with some of the vineyards in the Columbia Valley, the continued success of Marty Clubb and Mike Sharon with this Merlot comes as no surprise. They pull from acclaimed L’Ecole estate plantings Seven Hills and Ferguson in the Walla Walla Valley, as well as nearby Pepper Bridge, Sagemoor sites Bacchus, Dionysus and Weinbau, historic Klipsun Vineyard on Red Mountain and nearby Candy Mountain Vineyard. Careful blending with the Merlot (78%) brought in sophistication of Cabernet Franc (16%) as well as juicy Malbec and structure-building Petit Verdot. This latest release opens with a classic, lifted nose full of cherry and blackberry fruit, blood orange and a touch of wood toast. The palate is compelling, continuing with juicy red and black fruit, citrus and robust tannins that last and last. Last week, it came as no surprise that for the second straight year the L’Ecole Columbia Valley Merlot earned a gold medal at the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition in Hood River, Ore., a judging staged at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel on behalf of some of the region’s top wine buyers.
Rated “Outstanding!” by Great Northwest Wine. (14.5% alc.)
Cases produced: 4,600
Food pairings: Enjoy with herb-influenced lamb chops, Asian-inspired barbecued chicken, a well-marbled steak topped with blue cheese or a sizzling cheese burger.
L'Ecole No. 41 tasting room, 41 Lowden School Road, Lowden, 509-525-0940