Well, it's the first Saturday of April, which means that it's Cellar Saturday, a time to open a bottle that's been maturing in the cellar for a while simply to enjoy. And on this Cellar Saturday, we are also excited for bud break, a time when I get to hear about the initial buds of grape vines breaking forth for spring, and I am having a bit of a bud break of my own, only with my hydrangeas! I'm particularly excited about the ones that I planted last year, they have survived the winter and hopefully will flower this year. But back to the wine, this isn't a gardening blog after all, and tonight's wine is a real treat, the 2001 L'Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla Merlot!
Now bear in mind, I decanted this bottle for about an hour before tasting. The color is a lighter ruby, with just the faintest hint of auburn along the edges. The nose is a combination of sweet ripe fruit, blackberry, plum and a hint of raisin, along with some floral notes and tobacco. The taste is remarkably fruit forward, with some lovely strawberry, cherry and blackberry notes that transition nicely to some earthy notes of mint and basalt midpalate. The finish is warm and very dry, with soft tannins supporting the supple finish.
Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a terrific example of the varietal that's aged very nicely over the past 14 years. Tonight I am enjoying this wine with my classic Merlot meal of a thick cut grilled Angus ribeye with a big baked potato and a variety of grilled veggies, including leeks, purple carrots and Brussels sprouts, a perfect celebration of Spring! Cheers!