The Columbia Valley’s fast-draining soils, coupled with the continental high desert climate, are ideal for
grapevines, most notably red Bordeaux varieties. This offering from L’Ecole No 41 features an archetypal
young Cabernet profile that emphatically displays black currant, black cherry and violet aromas. On the
palate, flavors of cassis, ripe plum, bittersweet chocolate, tobacco and new-growth conifer lead to a sleek,
Black currant, black cherry, black plum, caramel, cola and cinnamon.
Columbia Valley is a huge and diverse wine region. Officially recognized as an American Viticultural Area
(AVA) in 1984, it encompasses much of southern Washington, with a small section jutting into Oregon. The
AVA covers 11 million acres, most of which lie on the Columbia plateau and in the valleys formed by the
Columbia River and its tributaries. Because the Cascade Range blocks the Pacific Ocean’s cool, moist air,
the Columbia Valley is the warmest growing area in the Pacific Northwest. A family-owned winery, L’Ecole
No 41—housed in the historic schoolhouse depicted on the label—was founded in 1983 by Jean and Baker
Ferguson. Today, the winery is operated by their daughter and son-in-law, Megan and Martin Clubb. The
Clubbs’ unflinching focus remains on producing distinctive, “terroir-driven” wines from many of the oldest
and most renowned vineyards in Washington. In tribute to early French Canadian settlers, the winery’s
name is French for “the school” located in district No. 41.
Cabernet Sauvignon has a great affinity for beef. To accompany this wine, you might consider encrusting
beef tenderloin with espresso or cocoa, or perhaps adding an olive tapenade or classic Argentinian
chimichurri sauce. With all those bold fruit flavors in the L’Ecole, my recipe for Brined Short Ribs with 5
Onion Cavalo Nero will make for an excellent pairing. This is pure comfort food for any time of the year
when family and friends are all gathering. The braised short ribs are even better when made the day ahead.
Serve with a side of my Soft Polenta and I can guarantee all of your guests will be swooning with delight.
Near the end of the last ice age, roughly 15,000 years ago, a series of cataclysmic floods (known as the
Missoula Floods) deposited layers of silt and sand throughout the Columbia Valley which made it ideal for