2015 L’Ecole No. 41, Perigee, $55
Winery info: The third oldest winery in the Walla Walla Valley, L’Ecole No. 41 was founded in 1983 by Jean and Baker Ferguson. Their daughter and son-in-law, Megan and Marty Clubb represent the second generation to oversee this highly-acclaimed Washington winery.
Winemaker: Mike Sharon who has been with L’Ecole since 1996.
Grapes: 56% Cab Sauv, 16% Merlot, 14% Cab Franc, and 7% each Malbec and Petit Verdot
Vineyard source: Seven Hills Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley, originally planted in 1981. L’Ecole No. 41 is a partner in this vineyard, which is planted on mineral-rich soils with windblown loess soil. Their flagship wine, Perigee, is sourced from the oldest and most distinguished blocks of the vineyard.
Flavor profile: The winemaker notes, “Our Estate Perigee captures the essence of Seven Hills Vineyard’s characteristic rich elegance, seductive aromas, and earthy structure.” From the warm 2015 vintage (like the Canvasback below), it is smooth and expressive with notes of black plum, mocha, and cassis.
Production/Availability: 1,425 cases. Just recently released, it should be available for a while.
Drinkability: Delicious now, it could also age for up to a decade from vintage, through 2023.
Food Pairing: This blend is perfect for hearty meat dishes, from burgers to rib eye or filet mignon.
2015 Canvasback, Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, $39.75
Winery info: Canvasback is a project begun in Washington state by Napa’s Duckhorn Winery and was their first venture outside of California. They were able to purchase coveted vineyard sites in the Red Mountain AVA near the vineyards of Force Majeure, Col Solare, Heart of the Hill, and Hedges. Their goal with Canvasback is to express the depth and structure characteristic of wines from this appellation.
Winemaker: Brian Rudin, who was head winemaker at Walla Walla’s Cadaretta Wines and also worked at l’Ecole No. 41 and Buried Cane before becoming the founding winemaker for Canvasback.
Grapes: 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Aged 20 months in mostly French oak, 42% new.
Vineyard source: 18 vineyards in the Red Mountain AVA, planted on southwest-facing slopes with significant temperature swings from day to night, allowing for slow, even ripening.
Flavor profile: Very smooth and elegant, with lovely depth and softness from the warm 2015 growing season. With complex, layered flavors of dark cherry and black plum, savory notes of spice and desert underbrush, and balanced, mellow tannins.
Production/Availability: This wine should be in decent supply for the foreseeable future.
Drinkability: You could enjoy this wine now or over the next five years, through around 2023.
Food Pairing: They suggest a pulled pork sandwich and even have a great recipe on their website!