Oregon wine: 2019 L'Ecole No 41 Walla Walla Valley Seven Hills Vineyard ©Winerabble

Oregon wine: 2019 L’Ecole No 41 Walla Walla Valley Seven Hills Vineyard Syrah

Seven Hills Vineyard
Walla Walla Valley
Columbia Valley

15.0% alcohol

Empty bottle weight:
21.0 ounces // 595 grams

Cork closure

1030 cases produced

The 2019 growing season was bookended by cold weather. Snow and low temperatures kept the vines hibernating longer than usual, and delayed budbreak until late April/early May. While the Walla Walla Valley did experience warm days, the daily averages during July and August were cooler than normal. By mid-September, rain returned and frost followed shortly after. Continued frost events were forecasted, which forced grape growers and winemakers to scramble in a race to bring in their fruit, whether or not it was fully ripe.

After the grapes were handpicked and sorted, winemaker Marcus Rafanelli fermented 20% of this Syrah as whole-cluster (skins, seeds and stems) in order to impart more color, aromas and tannins. (Click here to read our Why Wine? interview with Marcus.) He used stainless steel fermenters and eventually racked the wine to mostly French oak, of which 40% was new. Barrel-aged for 18 months before being bottled, be sure to decant if you plan to drink this Syrah young. I loved the grippy, cat tongue-like tannins, along with nice acidity and structure. (Follow this link to read our Wine 101, Tannins explained.)