Saturday, October 30, 2021

“Merlot Me” With This Pair From Washington State’s L’Ecole Winery

L'Ecole Merlot and Beef BourguigonFall weather is the perfect setting for expertly crafted Merlots from Washington.

Magnificent Merlot

October is Merlot Month and we’re squeezing under the wire to tell you about two wonderful bottles we recently uncorked. L’Ecole No. 41 is recognized as one of Washington State’s masters of Merlot. This pair certainly magnifies that claim.

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As the weather dips lower and the frost is (almost) on the pumpkin, we decided we needed a nice warming meal. It was time for some beef beef bourguignon as only the Green Dragon can make it.

Beef bourguignon is a rich beef stew in a thick wine sauce. The dish includes onion, carrots, garlic, celery, and mushrooms. We added some creamy mashed potatoes to make this a true comfort dish. For the wine we tried two L’Ecole Merlot, both 2018 vintages: Columbia Valley Merlot and the Walla Walla Valley Merlot.

L'Ecole Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley MerlotContrast In Excellence

As we savored the succulent stew, the first sip of the Columbia Valley Merlot opened our eyes with delight. This is a smooth wine bursting with bright raspberry and black cherry flavors. It is 80% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec and a dash (2%) of Petit Verdot. This has beautiful ripe flavors of berries that entrance without becoming heavy or ponderous. A wonderful blend with the bourguignon.

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The Walla Walla Merlot is the same, but different. By that I mean that it is also an exemplary wine – but it is a deep dive into the darker side of Merlot. It is the electric bass to the Columbia Valley’s acoustic guitar.

Blackberry and black cherry rise to the forefront and chocolate and plum paint the mid-palate. The finish is plush and balanced with cedar and savory accents.

Twelve percent Cabernet Franc and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon are blended with the Walla Walla Merlot. The grapes for this wine come from two prestigious estate vineyards: Ferguson and Seven Hills. Both the vineyards are certified sustainable and certified Salmon Safe. Aging was in small French oak barrels, with 35% new, providing structure without being too heavy.

L’Ecole is a leader in Washington State wine and one of our favorite producers. The Columbia Valley Merlot retails for $25 while the Walla Walla Merlot has an SRP of $36.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as a marketing sample.

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