“Walla Voila” Chenin Blanc, Washington, 2007
What: This old vine Vouvray style Chenin Blanc is a gem. It opens with peach and floral aromas, leading to tart tastes of apricot and pear. L’Ecole No. 41 has been producing this off-dry wine since 1987, and in recent years it has gotten drier. It is a fresh, exuberant wine, with just a hint of minerals in the finish. It is a complex wine, with layers of intriguing aromas and flavors. The winery is named after a historic French schoolhouse, and the name “Walla Voila” is a play on the French word “Voila” which means “Here it is!” It is pronounced “Walla Walla.” Serve chilled. Though Chenin Blanc was one of the most popular California wines in the 1970s, it has been surpassed by Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Now it often is used as a blending agent in bulk wines. But in the right hands Chenin Blanc produces wonderful wines that can age for a few years. This is one of those wonderful wines.
The Winery: L’Ecole Nº 41 was founded in the Walla Walla Valley in 1983 by Jean and Baker Ferguson. Today their daughter and son-in-law, Megan and Martin Clubb, operate the winery. The winery is in the historic Frenchtown School in Lowden, Washington. Many French Canadians settled in th
e valley west of Walla Walla in the 1800s, and built the school in 1915. Local history says the people of French descent who settled there grew grapes and started making wine. By the 1860s, nurseries, vineyards and winemaking had become a part of the regions’ growing economy. The name is French for “the school in district number 41.” It was chosen to honor the pioneer winemakers of the area. Even the label reflects the schoolhouse theme. It was painted by an 8-year-old who won a contest in 1983. The winery produces Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chenin Blanc, Semillon and Merlot.
Goes with: Seafood, crabcakes, grilled fish, spicy chicken (especially Asian dishes), as an apertif, or on a picnic when the weather warms up a bit.
L'Ecole Nº 41 2007 Chenin Blanc
Author Dennis Sodomka