Saturday, March 1, 2014

2001 L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot

Hooray!  It's March, which means that Spring is right around the corner, right?  Well it doesn't feel like it today at least, but at least we have two other things to celebrate on this first day of March, one it's Cellar Saturday, which means I get to go deep into my cellar and open a wine that's been waiting years for its chance to shine.  The second thing to celebrate is that it's March, which is Washington Wine Month!  That means all the wines I will profile this month will be from the great state of Washington, my favorite wine region!  And tonight's treat is the 2001 L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot, a wine that's been in my cellar since one of my very early trips to Walla Walla back in 2003 or 2004.

I opened this bottle about an hour ago to let it get used to this wintry air, so hopefully it's opened up a bit.  The color is a nice ruby with a hint of opacity at the center, but not the usual tinge of brown that you sometimes see on a wine more than a decade old.  The nose is fantastic, with a blast of tart cherry, rich oak, green grass, Asian spice and a hint of mint that is very reminiscent of a great mature Bordeaux.  The taste is somewhat fruit forward, with nice blackberries and plum up front that transitions gradually to mint and green grass midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with some classic Bordeaux "funk" of barnyard and oak, with some still vibrant tannins supporting a long, smooth and exceptionally dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 9, it's just such a pleasure to drink that if it wasn't 12 degrees outside I would be sipping this wine all evening on my deck!  But instead I'm indoors, enjoying this wine with a nice chopped Asian salad with wasabi ginger dressing and some stuffed red and yellow peppers that I made using my mom's recipe with a mild twist of incorporating some Italian sausage into the ground beef and rice stuffing.  Such a nice pairing with the fruit and rustic flavors of the wine against the spice of wasabi and richness of the tomato sauce over the stuffed peppers.  Delicious!

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