Well, today was another busy day of leaf gathering, after last week's adventure the city came and picked them all up on Monday morning. Unfortunately they didn't wait for the remaining leaves to fall from the maples, which means I have plenty to do this weekend! And hopefully after this we will be officially done with leaves. Although I'm tired now, I realize it's the first Saturday of the month, which of course means it's Cellar Saturday! And tonight I have a nice treat to celebrate the conclusion of Merlot month, the 1998 L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot!
I decanted the wine for about an hour before my first pour and it's a nice garnet color with a hint of amber along the edges and great clarity. The nose presents lovely aromas of ripe berries, blackberry, cherry and raspberry over some earthy notes of leather and cedar. The taste is reminiscent of a fine Bordeaux, with some ripe black fruit up front and a hint of mint that transitions nicely to some earthy elements of peat and oak midpalate. The finish is surprising, as the tannins are mellow beyond belief, yet the long, smooth and very dry finish seems to go on forever with a final reprise of black fruit minerality.
Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a lovely example of the varietal at its peak maturity. Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic Merlot meal of rare grilled Angus New York Strip with a baked potato and some grilled Brussels sprouts. The dark fruit and mineral notes are a perfect complement to such a rich meal. Cheers!