August Virtual Tasting - L'Ecole No. 41 Recess Red 2006

Welcome to Washington Wine Report’s inaugural virtual tasting! Here’s the deal. At the beginning of each month we will announce a wine to be the focus of our virtual tasting. Two weeks later – to allow time for people to purchase and sample the wine – I will post my tasting notes and hope you will do the same.

This month’s wine is L’Ecole No. 41’s Recess Red 2006. The Recess Red is L’Ecole’s table wine. It is composed of wines not used in their premium blends, often including the hard press fractions. The 2006 vintage is a primarily a blend of Merlot, Cabernet, and Syrah with dollops of Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, and Carmenère thrown in. The wine was aged for ten months in second and third year French and American oak.

Overall I liked this wine quite a bit, especially the nose which I thought was great. The taste was quite good but left me wanting just a little more, which held me back from giving it a star. However, especially on sale - I purchased it for $15 - it is a lot of wine for the money. See my tasting notes below. I look forward to hearing your comments.

We’ll do a virtual tasting again next month. If you would like to suggest wine, varietal, or area, leave a comment or send me an e-mail.







L’Ecole No. 41 Recess Red 2006

A rich nose with white pepper, spice, stewed rhubarb, and berry aromas. On the taste, it is a well put together wine with cherry throughout and soft tannins. The wine has a good mid-palate but lets off a little on the finish. Sampled at 65 degrees. 37% Merlot; 26% Cabernet; 24% Syrah; 6% Cab Franc; 4% Petit Verdot; 3% Carmenère. 14.1% alcohol. 3,794 cases produced.


Sean P. Sullivan


  1. Moderate, lovely nose of mentholated, slightly herbal red licorice. I'm starting to associate those menthol notes with Washington state merlot, and it makes for a really pretty nose.

    On the palate, great acid-tannin balance. There is tasty, spicy fruit here, but it's restrained. The finish is a little hot and the tannins are maybe a touch bitter, but this is a nice blend for the price. Also, the taste smoothed out a bit over time, and the last sip (after about 2 hours open) was the best of the bottle.

    At the price I paid ($21.49), this is a + by Sean's rating system. If I had paid $15, I might upgrade to a *. Nice effort.

  2. Nose - A bit of dust...Lots of white pepper, particularly in the beginning...some berries...definitely hints of tomato leaf as well. Quite an interesting nose.

    Taste - Not as good as the nose. Medium on the palate in the beginning, big mid-palate...underwhelming finish. Sour cherries or rhubarb taste.

    Overall - I'd buy it again, but wouldn't be excited necessarily. It did get better with time though. There are definitely better wines at the same price point.

  3. I was a fan of the Recess Red. I tend to evaluate wines based on quality and price - and for $15 this was something I'd buy again.

    + Nice nose with cherry, tabacco and spice. Good mouthfeel - very smooth with berry flavors and soft tannins as Sean notes above. I agree the finish was clean but unremarkable.

    It would be interesting to compare this wine to the Bergevin Lane Calico Red, Balboa Cat's Meow, and Tamarack Firehouse Red which other red blends at this price point that I am a fan of and are drinking well right now (Cat's Meow being most similar in style.)

  4. Thought the initial nose was really good. Cherry pipe tobacco, red licorice. Lots of dark cherry flavor, but the tannin was a little much for me--sucked all of the moisture right out of my mouth. I drank it a little too cold, as happens a lot for me (gotta remember to turn up the temp on the wine cellar).

    After the bottle sat for a while, I noticed that the initial flavor was changing, and that it was dropping its finish pretty dramatically. A few minutes later, and even the middle was gone--all that was left was the initial taste, and then its middle notes and finish tapered off into bitterness with little flavor.

    It was then we broke out the birthday cake (literal cake, really) and tried it with, well, "food". It was much better with cake and frosting. I recommend drinking this wine with frosting.