Saturday, September 5, 2015

1997 L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot

Well, it's the first Saturday of September, which of course means that it's "Cellar Saturday" that magical time where I raid the recesses of my cellar to open a nice, mature bottle of wine.  Tonight I've raided the cellar for a bottle that I just bought on my recent vacation to Walla Walla, the 1997 L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot, a blend of Merlot (85%), Cabernet Franc (11%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (4%), which I've decanted about an hour ago.

The color is a nice even purple with some amber around the edges and very nice clarity.  The nose presents a wonderful Bordeaux-esque combination of ripe plum, blackberry and leather, over a good bit of funk, with just a hint of mint and dried herbs.  The taste is just fantastic, with still bright fruit notes of plum and blackberry that burst forth at the outset, transitioning effortlessly to some wonderful mineral notes of basalt and earthy notes of peat and barnyard midpalate.  The finish is just divine, with some hints of sweet fruit as a reprise, while the mellow, yet still remarkably structured tannins provide a framework for the lush, smooth and exceptionally dry finish.  This is a lovely wine that has aged as well as any right bank Bordeaux.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, I'm not sure if this wine has reached it's prime, but I can't imagine it getting much better than what I'm tasting right now!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a monster, 2" thick Angus New York Strip, with some grilled leeks and asparagus.  This wine is just perfect with a big steak, but it would also pair well with hearty pasta, or some nice beef stew, or almost anything you can imagine cooking on an Autumn afternoon (even though it's technically still summer!).  What a fabulous wine for this first Saturday of college football, cheers!

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