Walla Walla is one of the great unheralded wine regions in America. I’ve always been of the opinion that’s largely due to the name. Walla Walla, Washington doesn’t have the elegant flow of Napa, California.

L’Ecole was always a favorite client, back when I was the second-in-command at the two-man team of International Wine Brokers. This was an up-by-the-bootstraps affair.

Back in 1989, Marty Clubb took over winemaking from his father-in-law. He didn’t have any experience to speak of, and the region was remote: there were only two other wineries in Walla Walla when the winery was founded in 1983.

L’Ecole No. 41 has grown quite a bit since then, producing nearly 1/2 million cases annually now. The winery now has three-tiers of Cabernet, the excellent Columbia Valley bottling, which retails for around $25, and this bottle, which usually sports a $40 price tag. Then there are the single-vineyard estate bottles, which are priced in the “if you have to ask you can’t afford it.” range

This bottling, the Walla Walla, is a blend of five vineyards, mostly from their own estate: Ferguson, Pepper Bridge, Seven Hills, Loess, & Summit View

Exotic spice with damson plums. A nose of cardamon and vanilla with a note of burnt sage. Dense fruit gives way to layers of tannic complexity with a deep rounded texture under the muscular composition. A finish of figs and vanilla.