Best Buy! The late Jean Ferguson, founding winemaker of L’Ecole, had a soft spot in her heart for Vouvray, so Chenin Blanc has been part of the portfolio at this Walla Walla Valley icon since 1987. In fact, the erstwhile schoolhouse in Lowden produces two expressions of the Loire Valley grape each vintage. Here is the flagship bottling by winemaker Marcus Rafanelli, and it is the result of long-term partnerships with three Yakima Valley vineyards all established in 1979 — Upland, Willard Farms and Phil Church. According to director of winemaking Marty Clubb, L’Ecole now controls about 25% of the 70 acres of Chenin in Washington state. Farming this late-ripener in the Columbia Valley requires attention and patience, and L’Ecole was bringing in its Chenin Blanc as late as Nov. 2. Because of the experienced farming, there was little winemaking intervention required by Rafanelli. That allowed him to craft a wine that’s more Mary Ann than Ginger — featuring apple blossoms, lemon custard, Bosc pear, minerality and a persistent profile of refreshing Key lime juice. Rafanelli, who worked at Boise landmark restaurant Red Feather Lounge before becoming a winemaker, likes to pair this bone-dry Chenin with a slice of French toast that’s savory rather than sugary.
Rating: 93 points — Outstanding!
Production: 5,300 cases