Saturday, October 5, 2013

1997 L'Ecole No. 41 Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot

So it's Cellar Saturday, time to reach back in time to enjoy a wine that's had a bit of life behind it, and of course as an added bonus, this is also a Washington Wine Weekend, so we know tonight's selection will be coming from my favorite wine region.  Tonight we are going back 16 years for this vintage, though I'll admit this wine has only been in my cellar since last Friday as I bought two bottles of this library selection at the L'Ecole 30th Anniversary celebration back in June when I visited Walla Walla.  I tried it then and ordered a couple bottles and they were just delivered last Friday, so how fortunate!  This particular vintage would have been just a couple years out of date when I first visited Walla Walla back in 2001 so it sure brings back some memories.

The wine itself still has some nice ruby color, with just the faintest hint of opacity.  The nose is very reminiscent of Bordeaux, with some funk initially followed by some lovely notes of leather, cedar and hint of lavender and plum (keep in mind I only opened this about an hour ago, so it's early in the process of opening up!).  The taste is quite complex, with some lovely floral notes up front that draw you in to a combination of rich dark fruit, blackberries, plum and black cherry that are still very vibrant.  The fruit transitions to some lovely dried herbs and mint, balanced by some musty forest floor.  The finish is long, dry and exceptionally smooth, the type of finish that makes you question why you've been wasting your time with such young wines barely 5 years old!

Overall I would rate this wine an easy 9.5, as it's simply outstanding and in my opinion just passing it's peak, and I think I bought this wine for about $35 which to me is a screaming bargain!  Tonight I am pairing this with something a little different, a lightly grilled tuna filet with some grilled leeks, red pepper and purple asparagus along with some steamed heirloom fingerling potatoes I bought at the farmers market today.  So delicious and an entire evening to enjoy this bottle, cheers!

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