This wine is a blend of three distinguished vineyards: 52% Schmitt Vineyard; 36% Evergreen and
Some of the best Chardonnays in Washington State are grown in the slightly cooler growing
conditions of Yakima Valley and in the northern latitudes of the Columbia Valley. The Schmitt
Vineyard (Yakima Valley) provides ripe tropical fruit, while Evergreen (latitude 47 on the Columbia
River) contributes crisp acidity and minerality. The old vines at the warmer Bacchus Vineyard
provide a nuance of ripe pear on this Burgundian style Chardonnay.
Elegantly balanced, this Burgundian style Chardonnay shows perfumed blossom fruit, Fuji apple and Asian pear with
spicy tropical flavors and subtle mineral nuances that gain complexity on a long, robust finish.
"The aromas are subtle and complex, with nuances of sweet pine and citrus that are usually blown out by warmer sites. About 20% was aged in new oak, but the influence is barely noticeable, as a gentle background, giving light scents of toast and hints of butterscotch. This is the perfect compromise between barrel and tank-style Chardonnay, taking the best of each, as evidenced by the creaminess that underlies the spice and lightly herbal fruit." 90 Points Wine Enthusiast December 1, 2008
"Apricot, orange and spices on the nose, along with a leesy nuance. Rather silky in the mouth, with ripe acidity and some minerality perking up the nectarine and floral flavors. This wine, which goes through partial malolactic fermentation, is now moved out of oak and into stainless steel tanks earlier." 89 Points International Wine Cellar November/December 2008
L'Ecole 41 Winery
L'Ecole No 41, a family owned vineyard, has been producing premium handcrafted varietal wines since 1983 in the historic Frenchtown School in Lowden, Washington. Having been founded by Jean and Baker Ferguson, the winery is now owned and operated by their daughter and son-in-law, Megan and Martin Clubb. Martin has been the general manager and winemaker since 1989.
In 1984, shortly after the first 1983 vintage was resting in barrel, Jean and Baker Ferguson, the founders, held a contest with all the relatives' children under grade six. The objective: draw a colorful drawing to be used as a wine label. Some of the children drew pictures of the school building, others drew bottles of wine with glasses, and at least one drew a picture of the cat. The prize at the time was $100 cash, plus royalties on posters sold (fortunately the state liquor board would not allow royalties on the wine).
The winner: 8 year old third grade cousin Ryan Campbell. Ryan's watercolor of the schoolhouse was drawn just about the time of Walla Walla's Hot Air Balloon Stampede, and he came up with the grape cluster balloon. All of the entries, including Ryan's original, hang in the tasting room for visitors to admire. Today, Ryan has just completed his Architecture Degree at the University of Idaho.
View all L'Ecole 41 Wines
Columbia Valley is the largest of Washington State's wine growing regions, with almost 11 million acres. It encompasses a number of smaller regions, including Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, Red Mountain and more. The vast area consists of a range of climates, allowing viticulturists to plant a diverse selection of grape varieties. Most wineries plant rows sparsely, which helps the vines survive the harsh winters.
Now the number two producer in the United States, Washington State has also grown in quality.
So how does a state known for rain and coffee produce high quality wines? They plant their grapes on the east side of the Cascade mountains, away from that ever-present rain cloud that sits along the coast. Perhaps wine grapes do well since the sandy loam soils east of the Cascade range give way to an almost desert-like land, saved from drought only by the helpful rivers that run through the area – and the good irrigation systems.
Thinking that the state would do best with typical northern growing grapes like Riesling and Gewurtztraminer, turns out the apple state is well-suited for reds, namely Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and, more recently, Syrah. Of course, whites have not been forgotten - Washington State Rieslings range from bone-dry to sweet, are well-structured and high quality, and Chardonnay dominates most of the other white plantings, making a range of wines. But the reds of the region, Merlot in particular, have made Washington State a quality force to be reckoned with.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.