Happy Cellar Saturday! Of course, it's the first Saturday in March, so that means it's the day that I explore the cellar, looking for something fun to try and tonight I've decided on the 2005 L'Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla Valley Merlot, a wine that's been in my cellar for about nine years! This wine is a blend of Merlot (82%), Cabernet Sauvignon (12%) and Cabernet Franc (6%) sourced from the Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla. As with older wines, sometimes they can be unpredictable, and in this case, the cork disintegrated as I was opening the bottle, so that meant pouring into the decanter to try to limit my cork consumption this evening!
The wine is a beautiful ruby color in the glass, with a bit of opacity at the center. The nose presents aromas of blackberry, leather, cedar and cassis. The taste is just a pleasure, with some warm fruit notes up front, blackberry, plum and cherry cola, that transition nicely to some warm spice notes midpalate. The finish is generous, with mellow tannins supporting a reprise of ripe cherry on the long, smooth and exceptionally dry finish.
Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's just an ideal example of a great, mature Merlot. This wine would be ideal with a variety of hearty dishes, from roasts to stews or spicy pasta dishes. Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled porterhouse, along with a baked potato and some grilled white asparagus, though I'm sure I'll be sipping this one all evening, even after the food is gone!