This year I have had a privileged opportunity to be part of
an Ambassador team getting to know L’Ecole No. 41 located in the Walla Walla
Valley on Washington state. This is a 3rd
generation family run winery founded in 1983 when there were only 20 wineries
in the state (now over 1,000) and this being the 3rd winery at the
time in the Walla Walla Valley. The winery
takes great pride in making 100% of their own wines and have been leaders in
developing the Walla Walla wine region. They
are located in the Frenchtown District just west of Walla Walla. The area was initially inhabited by French
Canadians in the early 1800’s and is located in the 41st district
hence L’Ecole paying homage to the historial dwellings of the area.
Copyright of L'Ecole
These suggestons today were some of my recent favorites at
great price points that I have been enjoying.Both of these wines today are part of L’Ecole’s Heritage Collection
marked by the black label that are branded to be consistent representations of
the terroir and quality expressions of the grapes themselves.
2020 L’Ecole No 41 Chenin Blanc Old Vines: L’Ecole
has been producing this old vine 100% Chenin Blanc since 1987. The founder, Jean Ferguson, was found of
making this Chenin Blanc in a Vouvray style.
The grapes are grown from 3 separate vineyards: Willard Farms, Phil
Church and Upland Vineyard, all planted in 1979 in the cool climate upper
Yakima Valley AVA. This Chenin Blanc is L’Ecole’s
first white wine released every year. Winemaker,
Marcus Rafanelli, takes great pride in making aromatic whites like this Chenin. One third of this wine goes through
malolactic fermentation to calm its bracing acidity and give the wine some
A crisp, refreshing white with vibrant acidity bursting with
citrus, grapefruit and stone fruit.Good
structure and fulfilling mouthfeel.This
wine was suggested to be ageworthy for 10-15 years if one can wait that
long.ABV 13.5% SRP $17
2020 L’Ecole No 41 Grenache Rose’: This wine is grown
in the Alder Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.The Alder Ridge Vineyard is situated high on
a bluff overlooking the Columbia River with a rather warm climate.L’Ecole has been producing rose’ since
2009.This wine is made in a Provence
style made from 100% Grenache.The wine
is produced using the maceration method where the red grapes are harvested
early for acidity and spend about 3-4 hours on the skins for their pale salmon
With 1,000 cases produced unfortunately this wine is sold
out at only $16.This is one of the perks
of being a club member to get early access to these wines without missing out.Marcus recommended a mouthwatering suggestion
of pairing this wine with prosciutto and melon or a charcuterie plate. I tried these wines out with vegetarian stuffed peppers stuffed with farro, pinto beans and tomatoes baked with cheese on top.
*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.
a week ago I gave an overall introduction to the wines from Orvieto
including the landscape, grapes and regulations of those produced from
the Orvieto DOC. Today I wanted to feature some of the producers I
sampled from the virtual tasting led by Jo-Ann Ross and hosted by the
Commonwealth Wine School and the Consorzio Tutela Vini di Orvieto. Many
of these producers are key players in the establishment and continued
development of the Orvieto wine industry. They revolutionized
winemaking into the classic Orvieto wines we know today.
a reminder the area of the Orvieto DOC spans from the Tuscan border in
the north near Fabro through the Province of Terni crossing a short span
into the Lazio region in the Province of Viterbo. The wines of Orvieto
actually make up 2/3 of the DOC wines produced in Umbria. There is a
large variety from dry to sweet and even sparkling. The majority
featured today are in the dry style including one Muffa
Nobile. All great wines in different styles and complexities whether
more crisp showing more citrus where others showed more florals and
body. All personal preference and style, but I didn’t meet an Orvieto I
Argillae is owned by the Bonello family that is known throughout Italy as one of the top spirits. The name Agillae, is named after argilla
meaning clay. The estate occupies over 640 acres with around 172 acres
under vine, although the winery only produces around 50,000 bottles
annually selecting the best grapes to be used for their bottles while seelling off the rest of the bulk.
The 2019 ArgillaePanata Orvieto Classico DOC is produced based on sustainable practices. It’s mae of 50% Grechetto di Orvieto, 30% Procanico
and 20% Chardonnay. Pale yellow with a tinge of green in the glass. A
very aromatic and grassy nose. Zesty acidity right up front with apple
and lemon pith. An approachable and delightful wine. ABV 13% SRP $18
A few miles from the city center of Orvieto in Rocca Ripesenais Cantina Altarocca located at the foot of the tuff on volcanic soil with some clay. Owned by the Ceprini
family and part of the Al Molino Gualtieri Estate, the winery also
hosts a resort to stay at. The winery owns about 27 acres of vineyards
producing about 50,000 bottles, which is only half of their potential
choosing only the best for production. As of 2015 Altarocca is growing grapes following organic practices.
The 2018 Cantina AltaroccaAlbaco Classico Superiore DOC is made of 50% Grechetto di Orvieto, 20% Chardonnay and 10% Procanico.
The Chardonnay spends some time in old oak barrels with the rest of the
grapes in stainless steel. This wine was more yellow in color in
comparison to the others. The Chardonnay allowed the wine to be more
round with fruit present including lemon and melon. The wine was well
balanced with a nice finish. 13% ABV SRP $17
Luigi Barberani is an important figure when it comes to Orvieto wines. He is one of the first to bottle Muffato. The winery is situated nearby to Lake Corbara
and the 135 acres of vines are grown on soils rich in clay and
sandstone. The climate, including humidity, from the lake help with the
botrytis that these grapes receive to produce the Muffa Nobile wines.
The 2016 BarberaniCalcaiaMuffa Nobile Classico Superiore DOC was the only Muffa Nobile I tasted for this tasting. Made from Grechetto and Trebbiano
Toscano this wine is amber colored with enticing notes of apricot and
honey, balanced and not cloying. Very smooth and without a heavy body
perfect as a dessert wine. ABV 10.5% SRP $68
Views from Orvieto
Part of the Gruppo Italiano vini
portfolio, Cantine Bigi is located on around 336 acres of clay terrain
in the Classico area of Orvieto. Originally situated in a Franciscan
monastery the winery was moved in 1972 to where it is located today in
The 2018 Bigi VignetoTorricella Classico DOC is
pale yellow in color. I enjoyed the florals of this wine. Very
aromatic with peach notes. On the palette the wine was clean and crisp
up front showing more grass, lemon and grapefruit. ABV 13.5%
The owner, OdoardoGialletti, had been making wine for his hotel business since the 70’s until he partnered up with reknown Riccardo Cotarella and started La Carraia. Today Riccardo serves still as part shareholder and consultant to the winery. Odoardo’s sons, Mauro and Marco, have also joined the business producing about 600,000 bottles on about 125 acres of vineyards.
The 2019 La CarraiaPoggio Calvelli Classico Superiore DOC is made of 50% Grechetto di Todi, 30% Procanico and 20% Chardonnay. This wine wasn’t big on the nose or the palatte,
but the volcanic soil showed on the palette with saline and
minerality. Fresh and easy drinking and a good value at $10 a bottle.
winery was established in 1973 by Claudio Barbi, but wine had been
produced in the area since 1212 from the vineyards of the Church of
Santa Maria in Decugnano
that were using it for Mass and local consumption. Today Claudio is
joined by his son Enzo in the operations. They operate on 74 acres of
vineyards at about 300 meters above sea level on the north side of Lake Corbara. The soils there are mostly sand and clay with fossilized shells. Decugnanodei Barbi is the first to produce the botrytized wines in Orvieto that we spoke about last week known as Muffa
Nobile. They also produce Metodo Classico wines that honor the origins
of the family originally from Brescia, near the amazing sparkling wine
region of Franciacorta.
The 2018 Decugnanodei Barbi Mare Antico Classico Superiore DOC
was a brilliant straw color with floral aromas and green apple. On
the palette was mouth-watering acidity, especially on the finish. It
wakes your palette right up! Rather light on body with a heavier
profile of citrus with grapefruit and hints on almond on the finish.
this wine is made of 50% Grechetto, 20% Vermentino and 10% Procanico, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. ABV 13.5% SRP $18
Etruscan cistern and medival caves of Orvieto at Pozzo della Cava
Palazzone has been owned by the Dubini family since the 60’s. The winery produces about 130,000 bottles on 60 acres of land. The 2019 PalazzoneTerreVineate Classico Superiore DOC is made of 50% Procanico, 30% Grechetto and a blend of 20% Malvasia, Verdello and Drupeggio.
This wine was best defined as the most representative to what the wines
of Orvieto are all about. Medium straw colored that is well-balanced
showing some saline, good acidity with notes of lemon, grapefriut, apple and pineapple. ABV 13% SRP $15
Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala
The winery is owned by the famous Antino family since 1940. The Castello della
Sala dates back to 1350 and is set at a high elevation on cliffs made
of fossils and clay. The winery has been operated by Renzo cotarella since the early 80’s and is quite large with close to 400 acres.
The 2019 Marchesi Antinori San Giovanni della Sala Classico Superiore DOC is comprised of 50% Grechetto di Orvieto, 25% Procanico,
15% Viognier and 10% Pinot Blanc. A very different blend compared to
some of the others at the tasting. Due to the viognier this wine showed
more florals and seemed to be more lush versus the others. ABV 12.5% SRP $18
Tenuta di Salviano
Tenuta di Salviano is located on the southern part of Lake Corbara. The winery is owned by the famous Incisa della Rocchetta family known for producing Sassicaia.
The winery has been producing Orvieto Classico since 1914 and occupies
almost 5,000 acres with around 173 acres dedicated to vines. It is part
of another winery, Titignano, located on the other side of the lake.
The 2019 Tenuta di Salviano Classico Superiore DOC is grown on both clay and limestone. This wine is made of equal parts 30% Procanico and Grecchetto di Orvieto with the remaining percentage of Verdello
and Sauvignon Blanc. A floral nose showing apple and mostly citrus
with a tangy acidity on the palette. Light-bodied and easy drinking.
ABV 14%SRP $15
Tenuta Le Velette
property originally was a church that was later purchased by the Felici
family of Orvieto in 1877 whom ran it as sharecropping property. This
winery has been operated by the Bottai family since 1950 starting with Marcello Bottai and now his children Corrado and Cecilia as well. They occupy over 270 acres of vineyards.
The 2019 Tenuta Le VeletteLunato Classico Superiore DOC is made of 40% Grechetto di Todi and Grechetto di Orvieto, 20% Procanico, 20% Malvasia, 15% Verdello and 5% Drupeggio.
These grapes were grown on volcanic soils and the wine spends some time
on the lees. Straw-colored and bright with a nose of almond and
lemon. Light to medium-bodied, dry with crisp, tangy lemon notes. Very
simple and straightforward. ABV 13% SRP $20