In last night’s dream, I’m caught in the Missoula Flood. In my dream, I’m a rock tumbling when the ice that dams ancient Lake Missoula breaks. At the peak, the flow rate is almost 108 million gallons per day or 13 times the Amazon River and up to 80 mph. These cataclysmic floods occurred several times during a 2,000-year period between 15,000 and 13,000 years ago.
With March being Washington Wine Month, and with two ZOOMs scheduled with L’Ecole and with Wine Pairing Weekend focusing on Yakima Valley AVA this month, I’ve been reading and researching the floods and the Columbia AVA which contains 99% of all of the wine grapes grown in Washington.
No wonder I dreamed I was awash in the Missoula Flood!
When most people think of Washington, I am sure they imagine the region West of the Cascades– temperate rain forests with big trees like in the Olympic peninsula, Seattle, Tacoma.
But east of the Cascades the landscape is entirely different: it’s dry and that Missoula Flood left behind rich farmland.
Within the Columbia Valley AVA, there are many smaller AVAs, including Yakima Valley on the eastern edge, which is further divided:
But no matter where you go in the Columbia Valley AVA, that Missoula Flood will have left its influence.
As the VanArnam website says,
“Our area is known for its long, sunny days and fine, shallow, silt loam soils left over from the ice age.”
For this post for the Wine Pairing Weekend, I received a sample of Syrah from VanArnam in the Yakima Valley. As I’d recently purchased a bottle of 2005 Hedges Syrah from the Red Mountain AVA in Yakima Valley, and I was sent Syrah from L’Ecole elsewhere in the Columbia Valley closer to Walla Walla, we thought it would be fun to compare them.
Sue and I love Syrah, and we both drink it regularly– from California or France, but not Washington. What makes Syrah from Washington unique? Can we taste the flood? We set out to find out.
2018 L’Ecole No 41 Syrah Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley
sample for my review and ZOOM participation
Read more about L’Ecole merlot and meatloaf here.
Read more about L’Ecole as a Top 100 Winery fo the Year here.
Color: So dense you cannot see through it. Very inky and opaque. Theater curtin red. Dracula’s blood. Crimson rim.
Nose: Sage, oak, forrest, pine, loamy soil, subtle hints of carnation and cinnamon, there is a bit of black pepper and blue fruit, but it is very subtle. A little bit of garigue but subtle, leather and hay barn. Vanilla and cherry .
Palate: For Sue, the oak overwhelmed the wine. It took over the flavors of the fruit. It tasted like a toasted oak barrel to her. When we come across wines like this we always ask the question, What is the winemaker trying to hide? Maybe in a few years time the oak will integrate more.
For people who think that Washington wines are too fruit forward, this wine will change your mind. Leathery, chewy, dry, bold tannins. This wine definitely yearns for food– and for a little more time in the cellar.
Pairing: With food the wine becomes more engaging; it’s a bit sweeter, less dry and tannic. Loves the grilled flavors of the sweet Italian sausages, and the herbs in the sausage.
Brussels sprouts were so caramel like and creamy, melt in your mouth, just fabulous with the wine. Great with the roasted carrots. The sweet roasted carrots bring out beautiful baking spices in the wine; almost like a carrot cake, so so perfect with roasted veggies.
Great wine for vegetarians!
With the rack of lamb, the garrigue comes out with the fruit, a bit of rhubarb, cherry, mint and herbs, a bit of hot pepper. With the roasted potato and prosciutto, Sue felt it took on a maple syrup characteristic almost like breakfast. After this pairing we should just do veggies! Wow!
Subscribe! Stay tuned for more about L’Ecole’s Cabernet Sauvignon and a Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend during Washington Wine Month.
Host Robin offers these sources and resources about Washington wine
You’ll also discover wineries, wines, and pairings from the Yakima Valley AVA and regions in Washington from my fellow Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers:
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Cam shares “Yakima Valley’s Sin Banderas Rhone Roses Compliment Dishes with Asian Flair” and “Mediterranean-Inspired Dishes Paired with Yakima Valley Wines from Dineen Vineyards”
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass invites us to “Meet Kerry Shiels: A Yakima Valley winemaker with Vision”
- Terri of Our Good Life shares 2 posts “Fortuity…Taking Advantage of Life’s Great Wines!”, and “Two Mountain Rose and Fennel Wild Mushroom Tarts”
- Payal at Keep The Peas shares “Yakima Valley Wines FTW!”
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm is cooking up “Smoked Beef Brisket with Canvasback Cabernet”
- Rupal the Syrah Queen gives us “Yakima Valley – Red Willow Vineyards Producing Some of Washington’s Finest Syrahs”
- Jane of Always Ravenous makes our mouths water with “Filet Mignon paired with Washington Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon”
- Martin with ENOFYLZ WineBlog is giving us “a Taste of Washington State’s Yakima Valley”
- David at Cooking Chat has 2 posts for us also “Lamb Ragu Pasta with Red Wine from Dineen Vineyards” and “Sin Banderas Rosé with Corned Beef & More Yakima Valley Wine Pairings”
- Nicole of Somm’s Table shares “Big, Beautiful Reds from Yakima Valley and Tasty, Meaty Fare”
- Jennifer at Vino Travels tells us about “Italian Grapes of the Yakima Valley with Sleeping Dog Wines”
- Gwendolyn the Wine Predator explores “Washington Syrah: Hedges, L’Ecole, VanArnam with Lamb Stew”
- Susannah at Avvinare gives us “Malbec from VanArnam Vineyard in Yakima Valley”
- Lori at Exploring the Wine Glass shares “Tasting the Soul of Wine in the Heart of Yakima Valley”
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles with “Yakima Valley AVA – Blends of friendship and history with wines from Eight Bells and Pearl and Stone Co.”
You’re invited to join our twitter chat at 8am Pacific by following the hashtag #winepw. Here’s what we’re discussing when:
Exploring Washington Wines in the Yakima Valley
#WinePW March 13th, 2021 – Twitter Questions
All times are listed as Pacific Time Zone
Q1 Good morning! Welcome to the #WinePW chat on the Wines of Washington’s Yakima Valley! Writers, visitors, wineries introduce yourself and share a link to your blog or site! Remember to use the #WinePW hashtag during our chat! #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA
Q2 Writers, how familiar were you with the wines of the Yakima Valley before this virtual visit? Have you ever visited the region? If anyone has visited the area share some photos! #WinePW #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA
Q3 What did you discover about the Yakima Valley that you did not know before? #WinePW #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA
Q4 What wines did you taste? What part of the Valley were the grapes from? Were any from sub AVAs or did you have a vineyard designate wine? #WinePW #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA
Q5 Tell us about the wine, share your tasting notes and/or impressions! #WinePW #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA
Q6 Perhaps you have had this variety or a similar blend from somewhere else in the world. Did you notice any differences? #WinePW #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA
Q7 Tell us a little of what you learned about the winery(ies) that your wine came from? Are they an estate? Do they source grapes? Where are they located? #WinePW #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA
Q8 Did you find out anything about the soils and the climates from the vineyards that the grapes came from? Was there something interesting that stood out about the place? #WinePW #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA
Q9 This IS Wine Pairing Weekend. So what did you pair? Let’s see some photos of beautiful food! #WinePW #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA
Q10 How did your pairings go with the wines? Anything you would do differently if you paired this wine again? For anyone who didn’t do a pairing, do you have a favorite pairing for a wine from the Yakima Valley? #WinePW #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA
Q11 So what do you think? Are you ready to go explore the Yakima Valley? Will you look for more wines from this region? What was the coolest thing you learned about these wines & the region? #WinePW #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA
Q12 There is never enough time. Who has something else they would like to share about the Yakima Valley? Guests, winemakers, writers, everyone jump in! #WinePW #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA
Thanks so much to everyone who joined us this morning! Next month #WinePW will be led by @LemieuxAndrea of The Quirky Cork, who will lead us on an exploration of Under the Radar European Wine Regions! #WinePW #YakimaValleyAVA @YakimaAVA