L’Ecole No 41 2006 Estate cabernet franc

Another early WAwineman classic, 1st posted on September 2, 2008:

September is red month! No cute jingles…just good wine as us Puget Sounders hunker down for the next 6 months. Summer’s over but just for you fobb-u-lous winechatr readers, I’ll grant you one more weekend of warmth so you can dispose of any lingering cheap white and rozeh in your stash. I miss the rain so much, I spent a good part of my Labor Day watching it swamp Louisiana on CNN. Who’s gonna get some “Chrome”? Not me, as I’m waiting for IE8. There’s something to be said about WA wine drinkers and life expectancy, according to my deft observations. This has crossed my mind; has it crossed yours?: we know about the superb recent harvests of ’05 and ’06 so as we await in anticipation of receiving these bottles, why, on terroir, would we risk our lives by–fighting Mexican police, hanging out in a crab boat near Blaine, crossing Lake Tapps, and hiking in the Cascades in one of the coldest, wettest Augusts on record? And let’s not forget that dude who got the VP candidate’s 17 year-old daughter preggers. He may end up in a Barrow prison with Alaskan wine. Drink WA, get IQ. Something the Bellevue School District and teachers could use.

So cab franc seems to be the “in” grape lately as Cuillin Hills, William Church, and others have vinted this on its own, rather than blending. 2006 must have been a darn skippy year, what with the maturation of the vines and the sleek climate over in the CV. L’Ecole (disclosure: I am a wine club member) is, imho, the premier 90-93 winery in WA land, even with their extensive lineup of offerings. And, consistency since 1983 (as is emphasized by prominent local reviewers). Plus, I have to mention that the wine label is quite the stroke of genius.

The grapes were picked from Block 8 at Seven Hills (planted in 1997) and were part of the Estate merlot and blend Perigee. The vineyard itself is the definition of Walla Walla Valley, just as Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun define Red Mountain.

Tonight’s dine-on-a-dime was typical Labor Day munchies…anything that could be thrown on a grill. There’s baked potato, then there’s grilled potatoes! How about some corn-on-the-cob?! Add on some zucchini, a bat of Portuguese sausage, and constant applications of GrillMaster beef hot dogs, then, for a crescendo, a couple of thick filet mignons grilled to a nice char on the outside, yet still red on the inside. The wine opened up with a solid presence and gentrified with the hot dogs seemlessly. The zucchini also harmonized like Toscanini’s Aida. The sausage was spicy but handled very well. And, of course, steak and cab franc is a no-brainer for a match. My only question about this wine is…where were you?! (I have one more bottle…and it’s sold out at the winery)

Nose: very intense black plum, blackberries, and raspberries. Color: midnight red. Mouthfeel: heavyweight lacquer. Tail trail: 7 seconds. Flavors: plums galore, cassis, black cherry, torched earth, chalky tannins (as advertised), and morels picked from fallen timber.

Alcohol: 14.3%. Pure franc. 119 cases.  Rated 91 Wine Advo. Walla Walla Valley AVA. Seven Hills Vineyard. Rated: 91. Value: $44. Paid: $36. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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