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L’Ecole No. 41

Years ago, in the early 1990’s I prepared my first Winemakers dinner as a chef. The winery was L’Ecole No. 41 that was the first time I met Winemaker Marty Club. At that point the winery was less than 10 years old and Marty has just joined the winery a few years earlier. Since that time L’Ecole No. 41 has gone on to garner international acclaim and be recognized as one of Walla Walla’s First Growths. But, it was the day that I became a lifetime fan of L’Ecole. The wines were fantastic and Marty was one of the most generous nicest people in the business I had met.

The winery itself has become an Icon. Driving into Walla Wall on highway 12 you can’t help but notice the old school house. The Frenchtown School was built in 1915, so named because of the number of French Canadians that settled in the Walla Walla valley. The Original label was a watercolor painting by 8 year old cousin Ryan Campbell,( now in his 40’s).

L’ Ecole was founded by Marty’s in laws Jean and Baker Ferguson as a little “Retirement project”. Jean and Baker always believed in the potential of Walla Walla Wines, and that dream was finally realized when L’Ecole’s 2011 Estate Ferguson was awarded the Best Bordeaux Blend in the World at the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards in London. Over the years the accolades and awards have piled up, but unlike many wineries that have achieved certain notoriety, the family has always remained approachable, friendly and generous. You are just as likely to Marty or his daughter Rebecca at a tasting or dinner as you might one of theirs sales team, many of whom have been with company 20 years or more.

“Marty Clubb has built L’Ecole N° 41 into one of Walla Walla’s flagships…making wines that represent the region, the wines that signify Walla Walla.” Patrick Comiskey, Wine & Spirits Magazine

Marty is highly respected in the wine industry and continues to give back and pay it forward. Marty has served more than 20 years on the boards of various wine industry associations like the Washington Wine Commission. He is currently President and Director of the Washington Wine Institute. Marty was instrumental in the founding of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and served as its president for six years. Marty worked with other industry pioneers in the development of the Walla Walla Community College Center for Enology and Viticulture.

In 1977, the Fergusons bought the old school house with the idea of starting a winery. That same year that Gary Figgins started Leonetti. Now 40 years later their legacy lives on in one of the most beloved wineries in Washington State.

anton kimball02, 1/4/10, 2:54 PM, 16C, 9584×13811 (864+972), 150%, None 14 bit, 1/40 s, R125.8, G101.3, B129.1

Long Shadows Pedestal: A retrospective from 2003 to 2008 from the Long Shadows Vintners Collection. By Jeff Fournier

I recently had the privilege of attending a tasting in Woodinville at the Long Shadows tasting room for a vertical of the Pedestal Merlot. These limited releases were conceived by Washington State wine pioneer Allen Shoup and he teamed up with Michel Roland (Pomerol vintner and consultant to many of the world’s most famous wines) We were seated and poured the 2003 vintage thru the 2008 and finished with a couple of surprises that were not expected; the 2009 and the 2014!


In attendance were the Director of Wine making and Viticulture for Long Shadows since the first vintage Gilles Nicault, Allen Shoup himself Sean Sullivan (Writer for the Wine Enthusiast) and others

Let’s jump in and see what I thought.

2003: 14 years later and this baby is still holding up, aromas of leather and freshly shaved pencil with dried fruit characters. Tasting, blueberry, cedar and spice with nuances of mocha. A little Petite Verdot and a splash of Cabernet Franc with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from Ciel du Cheval on Red Mountain helped this wine last in a hot vintage. Surprising

2004: My favorite of the flight! 2004 was a cold winter and the fruit aromas are still intense with blackberry and baking spice that carry thru to the palate and weave thru layers of ripe tannin resulting in a full bodied Merlot with concentration and length. The blend very similar to the 2003 very impressive.
2005: I see a difference here from “03” and “04” the fruit is fresher with dark cherry and blackberry on the nose and the palate with toasty oak and intensity in the mid-palate finishing with layers of black fruit. No Petit Verdot in this blend for the first time. Showing very well.
2006: More intensity than any of the previous wines, deeper, darker, richer. The 2006 was nearly a perfect growing season and produced big jammy wines well suited to Michel Roland’s style. There were some early worries of high heat but in September temperatures cooled enough for flavors to fully ripen. This was the first time the wine was made at the new winery and fermented in 1500 gallon wood tanks and first time using a splash of Malbec. Very good and my second favorite of the flight.
2007: A very similar vintage to 2003 as they were both hot and very close in the blends with no Malbec added. I find this wine to be a little smoky and has a wonderful intensity of vivid black currant cocoa and violets. Rich and focused, I think this one is still a little tight and can go for a while but will be better in the long run. Amazing considering it is ten years old.
2008: This was a bit cooler vintage than previous ones resulting in grapes with wonderful acidity. Modest summer temperatures and meticulous care thru the growing season set the stage for an excellent harvest. September and October were picture perfect delivering fruit brimming with flavor. The palate was vibrant with blackberries, currants and red fruits framed by oak and bittersweet chocolate. Drink this one before your 2007’s. Everything just seems to be in balance.
2009: The 2009 vintage was hot in the beginning but cool at the end with some rain and fog a tricky vintage but the wine is showing beautifully. Flavors of cherry preserves black and blue fruits coffee and toasted coconut. Once again meticulous care during the season and in the blending give proof that these wines are consistent year to year. This wine has a younger personality but will still age well.

2014: The 2014 vintage was the hottest vintage of record to date. Wow a big rich wine deep purple in color. This wine has a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon, smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec similar to previous vintages. This is an awesome wine with its deep purple color and flavors of black fruit, plum, coffee, baking spice and sweet oak. Once again showing a consistency in style due to meticulous vineyard management and blending regardless of the vintage.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and look for more in the future with Washington’s rock star wine makers. If you ever have any questions contact me

jeff@esquin.com

 

Ross Andrew Mickel Sommelier, Winemaker, Inventor?

#FridayFunFact not only is @Ross Andrew Mickel a Sommelier and Winemaker, did you he helped invent a Pnuematic Basket Press?

While working at Betz, Bob wondered if there was better way to build a Basket Press. He preferred the wine it made but thought there must be an easier way. Ross one night over dinner told his father of the situation, his father an Architect, said “Well, lets build one ourselves.” A year of drafting and redesign and voila a pneumatic Basket press was born.

They started using it at Betz and it was a hit! They sold the design to Carlsen and Associates, a wine equipment manufacture . carlsenassociates.com

Today, hundreds of wineries around the country use his basket press.

Yamhill-Carlton Road Show June 27th!

Come Taste the Wine of Oregon’s Yamhill-Carlton AVA!

June 27th, 2017 | 6 to 8pm
The Metropolist
2931 1st Avenue South A
Seattle, WA 98134

$30 (in advance with Eventbrite here>>)
$35.00 (at the door ~ cash only)

The Yamhill-Carlton American Viticultural Area, home of many Oregon wine industry pioneers and the oldest soils in the Willamette Valley, is coming to Seattle! Join 12 wineries for a memorable tasting experience on June 27th from 6-8pm. The producers will be pouring wine all exclusively made from Y-C AVA fruit, concentrating on Pinot Noir, as well as a small selection of other varietals. This is a great opportunity to taste Oregon wines without traveling hundreds of miles. Learn firsthand about Oregon’s geology and climate and what makes the wine so alluring, complex and age worthy. While you sip, enjoy delectable bites that complement these world-class wines.

This is a unique opportunity, as many of these wines are not for sale in Washington state. If you like what you taste at the event & want these wines in your own cellar, Esquin Wine & Spirits will be taking wine orders!

Participating Yamhill-Carton AVA Wineries:

Carlton Hill Wines

Elk Cove Vineyards

Fairsing Vineyards

Ghost Hill Cellars

JL Kiff Vineyard

Ken Wright Cellars

Lenne Estate

Marshall Davis

Monks Gate

Saffron Fields

Stag Hollow

 

Weekend Wine Pairing ~ Vintager Chardonnay + Crab Tostadas with Sriracha Guacamole

Okay,  I start to really miss California when it snows in the passes in May, and the rain never ceases. Yes, I am a California native, albeit I have lived in Seattle for over 32 years, so that has to count for something, right? Oh, I do have certain California kid peccadillos. Like when my northern brethren claim indisputable expertise on Mexican food, or when I find myself defending a fondness for Zinfandel or a certain style of California Chardonnay.

Take for example a new Chard we just found.

The Californian Vintager Chardonnay Knights Valley 2012 $14.99

This is an elegant barrel aged chard produced from hand harvested grapes in the legendary Knight Valley AVA, home to winemakers like Peter Michael. Coastal fog and conifer trees create a special cool climate that gives the resulting win a balance of fruit and fresh acidity. Full bodied, yet balanced with well integrated oak and a long seductive finish. Honey crisp apple, blood orange and just a touch of vanilla give this wine all that classic Northern California Chardonnay appeal.

Only 748 cases of this wine were produced by winemaker Sam Jennings, The Vintager Chardonnay is true small production wine.

Yes, and there are certain dishes that pair perfectly with that certain style of Cali Chard – Smoked Chicken Salad, grilled Salmon, Lobster. This wine would be perfect just sitting on a sunny deck with some friends, but this also would be awesome with my Crab tostadas! Recipe below

Join us and taste this extraordinary Chardonnay, Saturday May 20th, at Esquin 2 pm to 5 pm!

xo Lenny

Crab Tostadas with Sriracha Guacamole

1 (16 ounce) package tostadas ( or fresh made)

16 ounces Dungeness crab

1 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

***** Garnish

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 red pepper, finely diced

1 jalapeno, finely diced

1⁄2 medium onion, finely chopped

¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

*****Guacamole

3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled

1 lime, juiced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon Sriracha

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoon sour cream

  1. You can fry your own tortilla but store bought are just fine
  2. In a large bowl, pull crab apart and check for any shell pieces. Combine lime juice and olive oil and dress crab with dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In another bowl combine diced tomatoes, diced peppers, onions and cilantro.
  4. In bowl of food processor combine all ingredients and pulse until well comined.
  5. Spread 1 tablespoon Guacamole on tostada top with 1 ounce of crab meat and garnish with pepper mixture

Crab Tostadas with Sriracha Guacamole Printable Recipe

Taking Care of Each Other

Ashley Trout has been making waves throughout the Pacific Northwest after launching Vital Wines and March Cellars in 2016. Vital Wines is a community-driven, non-profit winery founded on providing better healthcare for vineyard and winery workers in the Walla Walla Valley. All profits are donated to the SOS Health Services of Walla Walla. A pioneer effort of its kind.

We were able to grab a couple cases of the rarely available Vital The Gifted for you.

Vital The Gifted $24.99

52% Cabernet Sauvignon 29% Malbec 10% Cinsault 10%Tinta Cao

Blackberry and plum, fig and woody thyme stems lead to cracked pepper and baking spices, dried papaya and rare white chocolate notes. An absolutely stunning Washington blend!

Join Ashley Trout as she pours Vital Winery + March Cellars wines on Friday from 4-7PM, at our tasting table, while supplies last

 

Weekend Wine Paring ~ Cedar Plank Salmon with Tarragon Mustard Glaze + Chehalem Wines

Spring seems reluctant. I see the fits and starts, the bud break and blossoms, the first Rosés’ and the first of the seasons’ harvests. This is the time of year that I get the most antsy with anticipation. I just can’t wait to get outside and grill! Growing up in California we would grill year round.  Here, I have to seize the day, and catch the sun when she briefly smiles on me.

Grilled Salmon is just about one of the best dishes to prepare when entertaining guests, especially out of towners. The best part is how little time you actually have to spend in front of the grill. Less cooking equals more partying. Again, plan ahead and have your ingredients ready to grill when your guest arrive.

There are a many great ways to grill. One of the time-honored traditions, in these parts, is Cedar plank salmon. One of the greatest things about a Cedar Plank Salmon is that it works just as well in the oven as it does on the grill, so no matter how fickle mother nature may be you can still have a nice dinner.

Call me a traditionalist, but there are few better wines to serve with Cedar Plank Salmon than a good Oregon Pinot Noir, especially from Chehalem Winery. 

Chehalem Three Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2013 $32.99  

This Three Vineyard Pinot Noir has beautiful ripe black cherry and brambly cassis on the nose, with fresh wet earth and a tea leaf component. White pepper, dusty cocoa, tobacco, sweet loam, and raspberry accentuate the nose, providing a fresh, full, complex package. The palate is lithe and playful, with especially round, pliable acid, and an overarching flavor of rich cranberry sauce and rose hips. The finish is lengthy, yet elegant, with beautiful balance – a perfect partner for salmon.

“Light and sleek, open-textured and appealing, with delicate plum and guava flavors, riding on a glassy frame into a vivid finish.” 91 POINTS, Wine Spectator

Or, if you prefer, few places grow Chardonnay as well as they do in the Willamette Valley.

Chehalem “Inox” Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2014 $19.99 

The fruit shines brightly in this all-stainless cuveé. Ripe golden apples are at the core, with hints of peach and papaya. It’s a lovely, forward, ready to drink style that brings extra concentration and detail that is all too rare in unoaked Chardonnays.  91 Points, Wine Enthusiast

xox, Lenny

Taste these wines, plus other BBQ favorites on April 29th  from 2pm to 5pm

Grab a bottle to take home, and create your own:

Cedar Plank Salmon with Tarragon Mustard Glaze

Esquin’s Exclusive Quilceda Tasting with Arnie Millan

Quilceda Creek has been producing celestial wines since its inception in 1978. Quilceda Creek produced its first commercially-released Cabernet Sauvignon in 1979. Owner, and winemaker, Alex Golitzin had the good fortune to have the assistance of legendary winemaker and uncle Andre Tchelistcheff who was a mentor to Alex in Quilceda Creek’s early days. Over the years, Quilceda has earned lavish praise from the world’s wine press, sometimes bordering hyperbole.

Today, Alex and son Paul have made Quilceda Creek one of the world’s greatest estates, racking up an amazingly consistent track record of 98-100 points scores over the past 15 years with no score lower than 96 points (only twice in 15 years) with their flagship Cabernet. Quilceda Creek’s Cabernet Sauvignon remains the benchmark for what can be achieved in Washington  – and dare we say, and the United States.

So imagine our excitement when we learned that my colleague Jeff Fournier and I, along with David Leclaire, had been invited to attend Quilceda’s release party for the 2014 Columbia Valley Red (CVR) and the 2014 Columbia Valley Cabernet last month.

When we arrived, there was already a crowd. We quickly found the two tasting tables and made a beeline to the 2014 Columbia Valley Red Blend. Good thing we were early because the tasting room soon was filled to capacity. Amazing appetizers were tray-passed around the room. This was a party for the Seattle area wine trade, so we were able to hobnob with friends we hadn’t seen for months.

2014 is looking to be another outstanding vintage in Washington State and you can taste the concentration in both the Columbia Valley Red (CVR) and especially in their flagship Cabernet.

When we were done tasting, we went to the winery behind the tasting room to pick up our allocation of both wines. Thankfully, Jeff’s car was big enough to hold the cases of wine.

Below are my tasting notes.

Quilceda 2014 Columbia Valley Red $51.99/bottle

The 2014 Columbia Valley Red was beefier than the 2013. The fruit was noticeably darker and fuller bodied and the tannins were smooth and well-integrated. If I had to rate the wine, I’d give it 93 points.

Quilceda 2014 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $171.99/bottle

The big brother, the Columbia Valley Cabernet was outstanding. The wine is rich, intense and loaded with black currant and cassis fruit. The tannins were big and long on the finish accentuated by a contrail of that dark fruit. This wine needs some age to come together but I think it will be amazing in 7 to 10 years. I’d give it 97 – 98 points but I’m being very conservative because the Cab is in its infancy.

~ Arnie

Weekend Wine Pairing : Oven Roasted Lamb Rack Salad with Couscous, Fennel, Mint, and Tomatoes

Rosé Time!

It is definitely beginning to look more like spring; in the wine business that means the arrival of the Rosé! I can think of no better foil for the winter doldrums than to tease one of the scarce sunny days on the deck with brunch or late lunch. Whether Easter, or any Sunday, there are fewer things as civilized as taking a meal al fresco with a nice bottle of Rose!

The Rosé Revolution is now hegemony!  Never in my life have I tasted and seen so many Rosé. Beyond the great Bandol and Tavel, we see Rosé coming from every great wine region in the world. Not only is it just about the best thing for an afternoon quaff, Rosé also lends itself to a wide variety of foods. The touch of anthocyanin, that gives Rosé its color, also gives the wine more body which allows it to pair with heartier fare!

Looking for something to pair with your Easter Ham? Look no further. Roast Turkey, Standing Pork Crown Roast, Cedar Plank Salmon, Tuna Salad – you name it, Rose will fit the bill. Almost just to prove my point, I would like to present a perfect party dish that is made for Rosé – Oven Roasted Lamb Rack Salad with Couscous, Fennel, Mint, and Tomatoes.

 

Oven Roasted Lamb Rack Salad with Couscous Fennel Mint and Tomatoes recipe + ingredient list

The other thing I love about Rosé? Even the priciest Rosés are still relatively affordable in the vast scheme of things. One of my favorite things to do, for a party, is fill a galvanized tub with a bunch of Rosé + ice and let people have at it! Rest assured there are great inexpensive Rosé, and you can find a lot of them here at Esquin Wine & Spirits.

Here are a couple favorites:

OLIVARES JUMILLA ROSADO 2016 $6.99

Floral and red fruit aromas mingle on the nose, with a refreshing and balanced palate. This Spanish Rosé pairs beautifully with grilled vegetables, fish, pasta, or on its own.  70% Garnacha 30% Monastrell

LAURIBERT ‘LA CUVEE DE LISA’ ROSE 2016 $8.99

We are pleased to welcome the new 2016 Les Lauribert La Cuvee de Lisa! A gorgeous Rosé with tart, refreshing acidity that is balanced with notes of barely ripe strawberries. It’s springtime in a bottle!

MILBRANDT ROSE 2016 $11.99

Intense nose of mineral, strawberry, melon, and herbs. The palate is lean and fresh with plenty more red berries, and a saline finish.

Join us Saturday, April 15th, from 2-5PM at our tasting barrel to try the 8th World of the World – Rosé!

Spring Classes at Esquin

Italy In-Depth 3 Class Series

Italy! The Land of the Vine, according to the ancient Greeks; nowhere else is wine so closely intertwined with daily life in every village throughout the Italian peninsula – not even France. Nowhere else is there such a enormous array of excellent native varietals.

Beginning Sunday April 2nd, Sommelier Arnie Millan will be offering an in-depth look at Italian wine with three classes, each organized by region:

1. April 2nd – The South (Campagnia, Sicily, Puglia, Calabria, Sardinia, Basilicata)  1-4:30PM in the Sky Lounge $69

2. April 23rd – The Center (Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, The Marches, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Molise, Abruzzi) 1- 4:30PM in the Sky Lounge $69

3. April 30th – The North (Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy, Veneto, Alto Aldige/Trentino, Friuli-Giulia-Venezie) 1-4:30PM in the Sky Lounge $69

Join us for the complete series $195, tickets available here>>

Each region, its history and wines, will be discussed in depth. Classes will include tasting regional wines. We will taste 8 wines per class from the Italy’s greatest appellations. Free parking is available in Esquin’s lot on the South end of our building. The Seattle Times recently named Arnie “The finest Wine Mind in Seattle.”

FOOD + WINE CLASSES with Lenny Rede

April 9th – Bourbon and Barbecue! 2-4PM in the Sky LoungeTwo great tastes that taste great together. We will explore a variety of styles of barbecue and an equal number of bourbons, including a few local favorites! Do’s and don’ts on how to make your next BBQ the best party ever. $49 Call 206.682.7374 to register. Advance registration is necessary. Gift Certificates are available.

May 14th – Champagne & Caviar! 2-4PM in the Sky Lounge
Explore the range and elegance of Champagne and some classic pairings – including Caviar, Lobster, Fried Chicken, and Popcorn. We will discuss the production styles, rules, and history of the King of wines. With Special Guest! $49
Call 206.682.7374 to register. Advance registration is necessary. Gift Certificates are available.
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