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The wines of L'Ecole No 41
41 Lowden School Road, PO Box 111, Lowden, Washington
Phone: 001 509 525 0940 Fax: 001 509 525 2775
(UK importer: Pimlico Dozen)

Established in 1983, this winery is based in the Walla Walla Valley. There were some interesting wines in this line-up, and the quality was pretty high overall. Their Semillons are pretty good and count among the select band of Washington State whites that 'do it' for me. The reds are uniformly well made, with a strong showing by the Walla Walla Merlot and the Pepper Bridge Apogee. Prices aren't too bad for this part of the world (with the exception of the apogee, all wines retail for less than 20).

1999 Columbia Valley Semillon
2000 cases produced. Grapes sourced from several vineyards and the wine is 100% barrel fermented in second and third use oak. Fresh full nose of boiled sweets leads to a palate showing citrus fruit with a spicy edge. Light, fresh, bright style; attractive in a technological sort of way. Very good

1999 Fries Vineyard Semillon
About 500 cases produced. Restrained, fruity nose with nice balance between the fruit and new oak. The palate shows citrus and spice, with good balance: it's fruity, but the oak gives some spicy complexity. Very good+

1999 Seven Hills Estate Semillon
About 500 cases made. Extremely attractive nose: aromatic and full, with sweet ripe fruit and spice. Palate shows spice and vanilla. Lovely in a full-on style; great fun. Very good+

1999 Columbia Valley Chardonnay
Ripe fruity nose with boiled sweets character and toasty oak. A little bit anonymous on the palate, with a pear drop edge, lean fruit and some oak. Very good

1997 Columbia Valley Merlot
About 5000 cases made. Bold fruity nose of pure raspberry and blackcurrant fruit with spicy undercurrent. Pure, ripe fruit on the palate with notes of vanilla and spice. Remarkably fruity, it is perhaps a little simple, but this is my only criticism of this tasty wine. Very good+

1998 Columbia Valley Merlot
About 5000 cases produced. Lovely nose of bright berry fruit with some complex undercurrents of herbs and spice. Nicely balanced palate showing some sweet herby fruit, tannins and good balance. Very good+

1998 Walla Walla Valley Merlot
Some 1100 cases made. Lovely herbal pungent nose with a touch of smokiness. Ripe fruit on palate with good complexity and depth. Rich and complex. Very good/excellent

1998 Pepper Bridge Apogee
1000 cases made. A blend of 60% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Cabernet Franc. Rich herby nose with dark fruits and some nice oaking. Dense and quite tannic on the palate with good balance and interest. Very good/excellent

1998 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2000 cases made. Bright ripe fruit combines nicely with rich oak on the nose, leading to firm tannins and sweet fruit on the palate. Very accessible now and may age nicely. Very good+

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