Walla Walla winery wins award for Bordeaux

Andy Perdue, Special to the Tri-City HeraldJune 25, 2014 

Score another gigantic win for L'Ecole No. 41, a Walla Walla Valley winery.

The Lowden winery earned the top award for Bordeaux varieties more than 15 pounds at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards Tuesday evening. The winning wine was its 2011 Ferguson Vineyard, a new red blend from L'Ecole's youngest vineyard.

It could even be called a new twist on the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting.

Owner Marty Clubb was in attendance Tuesday at the Decanter World Wine Awards ceremony in London, and was flabbergasted by the honor.

"I'm still in shock," he said. "What's tremendous about this is it's really great for Washington. It's really tremendous for Washington to have a wine that won this category."

Ferguson is a blend of 57 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 32 percent Merlot and 11 percent Cabernet Franc. It comes from the estate Ferguson Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley near Milton-Freewater. The vineyard is named to honor Clubb's in-laws, Baker and Jean Ferguson, who founded L'Ecole No. 41 in 1983. Just 845 cases were made, and the wine retails for $59.

The 2011 vintage was the first release of L'Ecole's new signature wine and was made from vines that were planted in 2008. The 42-acre vineyard is part of SeVein, a group of vineyards high in the foothills of the Blue Mountains in the southern Walla Walla Valley. Neighboring vineyards are owned by the Figgins family (Leonetti Cellar), Drew Bledsoe (Doubleback), Norm McKibben (Pepper Bridge) and the Middleton family (Cadaretta). Seven Hills Vineyard, one of the Walla Walla Valley's top vineyards, also is part of SeVein.

The Decanter World Wine Awards is considered one of the largest and most prestigious wine competitions in the world. The 2014 competition included 15,007 wines judged by 224 international wine experts, including 66 Masters of Wine and 18 Master Sommeliers. Just 33 International Trophies were awarded -- 0.22 percent of the total wines entered.

L'Ecole was the only American wine to win one of the awards this year. An ice wine from Canada's Niagara Peninsula was the only other North American wine to win.

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company.

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