Today’s Story: L’Ecole No. 41
L’Ecole is a family-owned winery established by Baker and Jean Ferguson in 1983 in the Walla Walla Valley of Washington State. L’Ecole is the third-oldest winery in Walla Walla and today is under guide of 2nd generation owners Marty and Megan Clubb (Megan is the daughter of Baker and Jean) and their children Riley and Rebecca. Marty and Megan moved from San Francisco to Walla Walla in 1989 where Marty took on the role of manager and winemaker at L’Ecole, while Riley and Rebecca remain involved. Marty, alongside Norm McKibben of Pepper Bridge Winery and Gary Figgins of Leonetti Cellar, partnered to expand Seven Hills Vineyard in 1997 and develop SeVein (1,800 adjacent acres) in the mid-2000s and are largely considered pioneers of winemaking in the Walla Walla Valley.
In addition to their two estate vineyards Ferguson and Seven Hills, L’Ecole contracts with a number of respected winegrowers throughout the Walla Walla and Columbia Valleys. The Ferguson and Seven Hills Vineyards are certified sustainable, as is the Pepper Bridge Vineyard where L’Ecole has been sourcing fruit since the early 1990s. Marty and his team have a pretty tight grip on viticulture not only in their estate vineyards but in those they source from, practicing aggressive pruning, drip irrigation, and shoot thinning to produce wines that are vibrant and expressive but show their unique place. During the winemaking process, Marty strives to create wines that are expressive and highly aromatic. He and the team handle fruit very delicately and use gravity flow, limited adjustments during fermentation, gentle racking, and minimal fining and filtration at bottling.
Today’s Wine: 2016 Ferguson Vineyard Bordeaux Blend
62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec; 14.5% ABV
The 2016 Ferguson Vineyard is opaque deep purple/ruby and nearly black at the core. This deserves a good 4 hour decant, with the nose showcasing aromas of blackcurrant, redcurrant, blackberry, fig, cigar box, pencil shavings, forest floor, wet slate, espresso, and black peppercorn. Once in the mouth, the wine displays notes of crème de cassis, black cherry, dusty blueberry, anise, tobacco, potting soil, graphite, dark chocolate, and charred oak. This is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high but tightly knit tannins, and a long finish.
Price: $50. Really good value. The quality is remarkable and if tasting this blind I would call it a high quality Left Bank Bordeaux. Pair with prime ribeye, garlic/rosemary roasted lamb, or venison.