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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Get Schooled: 2009 L'Ecole No. 41 Semillon [Columbia Valley]

Okay folks time for another review, so hop back into the wine-wagon, sit back, buckle-up as it's time for a road trip, join me once again as we leave the comfy confines of the Napa Valley and head up the coast to Washington State, the great vineyards of the Pacific Northwest.

Having tasted this wine once again recently at a friends place, reminded me of my first encounter with this outstanding winery in the Walla, Walla, area. It was during last years Wine Blogger Conference that I had the first opportunity to taste some of their wines, which in my mind are palate-quenching phenoms of flavor and finesse, talking specifically about their White-Bordeaux style whites which is in today's review spotlight.

It is funny when folks ask me about these types of wines, they say to me in a nearly hushed tone, "do you have any "white-bordeaux" kind of like their not expecting me not know what their talking about, like it's some "insiders" secret. My answer, sweet or dry and yes and no, depending on their response I say, "I know where you get hands on a wine of similar varietal make-up but it's not from Bordeaux" speaking of the dry wine. The typical response is huh?

That's when I explain how to get their hands on what I would call some real thirst-slakers and because of my trip to Walla, Walla just last year I always think of the mouth-watering wines of Washington State and their Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc blends which in many ways mimic, copy and often surpass their European cousins, producing superlative charming white-Bordeaux styles of wine that are a perfect match for late spring and summer time sipping [absent the dash of Muscadelle]. Unfortunately for us here in Southern Cal, there's not a lot of this winetastic style of juice on wine store shelves almost anywhere [correct me if I'm wrong].

The Winery: If you plan to visit they have their tasting room located inside an iconic, 1915 schoolhouse whose image adorns the winery’s labels. Their tasting is fee is modest, as is the price points for most of wines they produce.L’Ecole No. 41 is located in Lowden, Washington, a short distance from the wonderful city of Walla Walla. Which is a great place to stay [great B&B's] and wonderful jumping-off spot for fun, flavorful wine tourism experiences in town or out to the nearby tasting rooms and vineyards. For a great review on the majority of their other wines by the Washington Wine Report click here.

Swirly, Sniffy-Sniff and Slurp: In the glass a bright beam of straw in the core, with a touch of youthful watery green-hues at the rim. This wine just screams "summer" is nearly here, stuffing my fat half-Irish nose down into the glass I could nearly hear Alice Cooper belting out, "schools out for summer" as a waft of ripe fruits [apples, honey and passion-fruit; with a splash of citrus] and toast come at me like a freight train. After the first splash down, I found a complex, yet creamy palate of tropical fruit flavors, apple slices, with just a squeeze of lemony-honey zest framed in mouth-watering acidity which finishes vibrant and clean. This wine will school your palate and make it want to come back to class over and over.

The Blend: A mouth watering blend of 83% Semillon and 17% Sauvignon Blanc. Often times what you'll get with a straight up Sauv-Blanc is a distinctive grassy/vegetal edginess, which is smoothed out nicely by the addition of Semillon, who on its own has a potential for flabbiness, but blends nicely with the Sauv-blancs higher acidity, an odd couple that works wonderfully together.

What's the Score: So much flavor for so little money. Thus my score for this wine is 93 points. A real block buster of finesse and charm. This wine definitely gets my drink now and drink often recommendation. They do appear to have plenty of it in stock at the moment, but with summer approaching I imagine it will fly out the door quickly.

Price and Where to Purchase: This wine can be purchased directly from the winery who does seem to have right-around the best price that I've seen it for anywhere online. They are selling it for $13 each in the 750ml size and also have a deal on shipping through the end of April, plus a 10% case discount. So what are you waiting for, get busy. The QPR on this wine is at full-tilt, the kind of juice where you're getting a four-year education at an elementary price.

Other Voices: Okay just incase you needed another opinion on this wine, I found out that one of the reviewers from WE listed this wine as a "best-buy" [no-kidding] and had this to say; the L'Ecole No. 41 2009 Semillon blended with 17% Sauvignon Blanc is exceptionally fragrant, satiny and rich, with fleshy ripe fruits and just a hint of toast, a warm streak of caramel enlivens the finish, which lingers gracefully [P.G.] and gave it a score of 91 points.

That is it for todays review, stay tuned next time as I reach into the sample bag for a review of one my favorite wineries in SBC, Zaca Mesa. By the way if the review above has wet your appetite for the fragrant and flavourful wines of the Northwest, then you will also want to give the Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc blends from DeLILLE Cellars a swirl. Everyone of their wines I tried last summer was off the charts in the winetastic department, seriously good juice folks [don't doubt me]. Until next time sip long and prosper, cheers!
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