April is Walla Walla Valley Wine Month, and what better way to celebrate than sharing my latest adventure with my favorite Walla Walla Winery, L’Ecole No. 41. This year marks the 3rd year Walla Walla Valley celebrated wine month, and L’Ecole is one of three wineries in the area that helped put Walla Walla on the wine map. One wine to celebrate the month is Perigee, a wine that showcases Walla Walla’s Seven Hills Vineyard.
Seven Hills Vineyard
The Seven Hills Vineyard is composed of 170 acres of wind-blown loess. The soils are mineral-rich. Initially planted in 1981, the vineyard has been Certified Sustainable and Salmon Safe since 1993.
Of late, I had the opportunity to taste the latest release, 2018 Perigee, one of several wines representing L’Ecole’s take on a Bordeaux blend. In addition, L’Ecole also sent small samples of the five components making up this wine. Although not available to the general public, these samples for a wine writer give a good insight into the ultimate wine blend created.
Perigee describes the point when the moon is closest to the earth. From a winemaker’s perspective, it would mean a point when the moon is closest to the vineyard and the grapes.
L’Ecole’s Perigee captures the essence of Seven Hills Vineyard, a vineyard known for rich elegance and earth structure. The wine is composed of the vineyard’s oldest and most distinguished blocks.
The components of Perigee are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. In general, each component was very drinkable and well-balanced. Let’s look at the variety individually and also in terms of what they add to the Perigee blend.
Merlot is the first to be picked. The wine is approachable with silky texture, body, and suppleness. These characteristics can be found in the Perigee. Merlot also contributes blackberry, black cherry, or plum flavors as well as cedar, bay leaf, vanilla, and mocha.
I found a very savory quality to this Cabernet Franc. In this case, the wine contributes earthy qualities, tannins, and elegance. Flavors of strawberry, raspberry, rose petals, peppercorns, and coffee.
The Cabernet is round yet has a spicy backbone and contributes these qualities to Perigee. At the same time, it gives structure tannins, concentration, and its aging potential. Flavors include black currant, black cherry, herbal notes, cedar, and baking spices.
The Malbec provides Perigee with a juicy quality and lift to the mid-palate. On its own, I found flavors of boysenberry and mocha.
For L’Ecole the Petit Verdot is the team wine because it is racy. I found a bright wind showcasing savory aspects and blackberry pie. As a result, it gives the Perigee tannin, acidity, and color.
Perigee the Wine
After sampling the various components, it was intriguing to see how they integrated into Perigee. The wine is composed of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 9% Petit Verdot, and 9% Malbec. The wine ages for 22 months in 40% new French oak. The result is a wine that distinguishes cedar and dark fruit qualities, especially boysenberry and blackberry, accented by savory spices. I found aromas of blueberry, pepper, and cedar on the nose. Its elegance comes through with a velvety texture and a silky finish.
There is still time to celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine Month. If you want the perfect wine to honor Walla Walla wines, consider doing so with the L’Ecole Perigee.
Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer received hosted wine samples. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.