In 2001, the then tasting room staff at "L'Ecole No #41 was discussing the differences of the two 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon releases. All of the tasting room staff, with the exception of me, preferred the 1998 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet to the 1998 Columbia Valley Cabernet. Now, it wasn't that I didn't like the 1998 L'Ecole Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I loved it! But there was something about the 1998 L'Ecole Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon I preferred. It was just something different that spoke to my tastebuds.
A few months later, the Wine Spectator listed the 1998 L'Ecole Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in their "Top 100 Wines of the World" list. Yes! My tastebuds felt absolved!
Yesterday my horoscope said I should do something nice for myself. It's rare when I listen to those things. Okay - sure - this time only. Why not? So I decided to have a quiet happy hour for one and work on that French cassoulet recipe* I have been wanting to master. Turned on some light music and made a little "pu-pu plate" of water biscuits and a foil cake of shallot and chive Boursin cheese (I try to keep a box of it around - perfect for impromptu happy hours). I stood in front of the wine rack, closed my eyes and picked. Ah-ha! It was a 1998 L'Ecole Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon! I almost put it back and then remembered what my horoscope said.
I dusted off the bottle, opened it and let it sit for awhile. Cedar came through to the nose and very aromatic cooked fruit. The taste was very silky with little to no appearance of tannins. A little taste of cassis at first and after it sat for awhile, a very strong essence of cherry pie and toasty almonds really came through. This evening I will enjoy another glass or two and see if there has been any change. There's another bottle of this fine Cabernet in my collection along with a couple of the larger format bottles. Those bottles will defininitely not be opened for a few more years. It will be interesting to look back and see how much the wine has aged.
There is a good chance you might be able to obtain this wine. It may be available in the L'Ecole library, which some of the wines are often for sale. If you do - give them a pointer to this post and tell them I sent you.
*About the cassoulet? It's almost perfect and the emphasis on the herbs de Provence made it happen. Tonight I will cover it with a gratin and bake it. My next batch I may add a onion confit to it. I hope it pairs well with the 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon and if it doesn't? Who cares? They will both taste delicious.