Well, it has been a long day and I need to relax, so what better way than to enjoy a glass of wine from my favorite winery, L'Ecole No. 41! To celebrate the end of the day, I've decided to open a bottle of the 2008 Columbia Valley Merlot, a nice wine that is really a more basic wine made from some of the best grapes of the region, but done in a way that maintains the character of the wine as a purely "L'Ecole" wine. This is also appropriate given that I just received my spring wine club selection from the winery last week (can't wait to open those eventually, but you know I'm patient when it comes to wine).
Now L'Ecole is a great producer of Bordeaux style blends, so naturally this wine is not a pure Merlot (only 82%), but has been blended with some wonderful Bordeaux grapes, Cabernet Franc (12%), Petit Verdot (4%) and Malbec (2%). The blend creates a far more interesting wine than many Merlots on the market today. This one has deep red hues and a a nose of leather, spice and a hint of cherry. The wine is nicely structured with a subtle taste of berry and ripe black cherry on the front end, which gives way to a wonderful smoky, mocha flavor mid-palate followed by a smooth dry finish supported by very nice tannins.
Overall the wine tastes like what you might expect for a much more expensive wine, which is probably why I really do like L'Ecole's Columbia Valley reds for everyday drinking wine. This one I would rate a solid 8, which gets bumped up to an 8.5 since I found it on sale at a local supermarket wine department for only $18! Can you believe that? As for pairings, this wine would go very well with a grilled steak, or rich pasta dish, but tonight, I am relaxing with wine and a pizza! Enjoy!