Sunday, October 4, 2015

2012 L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot

Since this is Merlot month and I am a huge fan of this under-appreciated varietal, I thought it would be nice to open a bottle for my Sunday dinner!  Tonight, it's the 2012 L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot, a blend of Merlot (80%), Cabernet Franc (17%) and Petit Verdot (3%) sourced from some of the premier vineyards in the Columbia Valley,

The wine is a bright ruby color in the glass, with great clarity.  The nose presents aromas of blackberry, cherry and plum overlaid with some earthy notes of violet, leather and oak.  The taste is a blast of ripe black fruit up front, cherry, blackberry and a hint of plum that transitions to some lovely dark chocolate and espresso notes midpalate.  The fine tannins offer a solid backbone to the long, smooth and exceptionally dry finish, just the way a good Merlot should come off.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's just an ideal Columbia Valley Merlot and a solid value at the full price of $26, but with the wine club discount this one comes it at just $23 and change.  This one would pair well with a variety of hearty autumn dishes, from stews and chili to a classic Yankee pot roast.  Tonight I am going a little more simplistic, with a grilled prime ribeye that I bought from Allen Brothers Steaks out of Chicago, some roasted Yukon gold fingerling potatoes and some steamed broccoli.  The lovely fruit notes and smooth dry finish make this an ideal wine for steak.  Cheers!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

1998 L'Ecole No. 41 Apogee

Well, it's the first Saturday in October, which of course means it's Cellar Saturday, that wonderful day when I open up a bottle of wine that's had ample time to mature.  And being the first Saturday in October that means it's starting to feel like Autumn, with a chill in the evening air and plenty of leaves coming down all around me.  So tonight I've opened a special bottle from one of my favorite Washington wineries, L'Ecole No. 41, in this case the 1998 Apogee, a classic Bordeaux style blend of Merlot (60%), Cabernet Sauvignon (34%) and Cabernet Franc (6%) sourced from the Pepper Bridge Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley.  Full disclosure, I decanted this bottle for about an hour before pouring.

For being nearly old enough to vote, this wine seems quite vibrant, with a lovely garnet color in the glass with just a hint of amber at the edges.  The nose presents aromas of leather, cedar, oak and just a hint of musty peat reminiscent of a classic Bordeaux "funk."  The taste brings forth some bright fruit flavors of blackberry and cherry cola which transition to some wonderful mineral and dark chocolate notes midpalate.  The finish is divine, with well structured tannins supporting a long, velvety and exceptionally dry finish that leaves you wanting another glass!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, it's definitely one of my favorite vintages of Apogee, which shouldn't be surprising given it's reliance on Merlot and my affinity for the oft disparaged varietal.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic pairing of a rare cowboy cut ribeye grilled Pittsburgh style along with a baked potato and some fresh green beans from my Amish farmer friends.  This is a wine that just makes steak taste even better!  Cheers!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

2012 The Vincent Columbia Valley Red Wine

Happy Sunday!  Tonight I am taking it a bit easy, so I thought I'd open a bottle of nice Columbia Valley red wine I picked up a couple weeks ago in Grand Rapids, 2012 "The Vincent" red wine from Mark Ryan Winery's Board Track Racer label.  This particular vintage was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (47%), Merlot (40%) and Malbec (13%).

The wine is a lovely dark garnet color in the glass, with nice clarity.  The nose presents aromas of rad fruit, cherry, raspberry and plum along with some earthy notes of peat, morel and a hint of leather.  The taste is nice blast of ripe fruit, cherries, raspberries and a hint of dark chocolate at the outset, which then transitions nicely to some coarse minerality midpalate.  The tannins are nicely structured, providing a good foundation to the long, smooth and exceptionally dry finish.

Overall, I'd rate this wine a solid 8, it's a terrific everyday wine and a solid value at $20.  Tonight I am enjoying this one with some old fashioned Midwestern comfort food, stuffed bell peppers!  The rich fruit and bright tannins make this an ideal complement to the rustic spice of the peppers, tomato sauce, beef and rice in the peppers, but it would also be ideal with many hearty fall dishes (after all, Autumn officially began last week!).  Cheers!