School’s Out: Ring the Bell with Shades of Summer with L’Ecole’s Chenin Blanc and Grenache Rose

The school bell has rung! School’s out for summer! And we’re celebrating the shades of summer days with a yellow Chenin Blanc and a salmon pink rose both from L’Ecole No. 41!  

And what goes with these wines and warm summer days? How about fresh fish and vegetables cooked on the grill?

I picked up a halibut from Ventura Fresh Fish at the fisherman’s market which Marshall  prepared very simply with salt, pepper, and fresh lemon slices from my tree. Sue sliced up organic squash and eggplant; ours are growing but not quite ready for prime time. And for an appetizer, Sue found a perfectly ripe organic cantaloupe which she wrapped with prosciutto and drizzled with balsamic reduction glaze. We also enjoyed a platter of charcuterie.

 

L’Ecole is a Washington winery located in the Horse Heaven Hills; we wrote about their Syrah here in March 2020 and their Merlot here and here. L’Ecole reached out to me and a few other writers about participating in a year long ambassador program with a featured wine and a ZOOM every month with winemaker Marcus Rafenelli and others from L’Ecole. 

Just in time for #DrinkChenin Day! 

2020  L’Ecole Chenin Blanc  Old Vines
ABV 13.5% ; RS 1.0 g/l
SRP $17
sample for my review

In the ZOOM, L’Ecole’s winemaker explained that Chenin Blanc generally offers a big reliable crop. But these vines are older and produce less. There’s only a couple hundred acres of Chenin Blanc in Washington; Chateau Ste Michelle used to grow a lot but now there’s only a few thousand cases produced each year because the vines have been pulled out in favor of more popular grapes. 

But at L’Ecole, they’re partial to Chenin Blanc from the beginning– they wanted to have a Vouvray style Chenin.  

The L’Ecole Chenin Blanc was planted in the late 70s’ and they been making wine from it since 1987 when they called it Voila Walla– or was that Walla Voila?  They see themselves as stewards — keeping these old vines in the ground. 

The vineyard is located at higher elevations on the south slopes of the Rattlesnake Hills where it’s a little cooler. The soils are 

Marcus says he enjoys making aromatic whites like this– they offer a challenge to “coax the flavor and the character” from a grape that can have bracing acidity.  One third of the wine went through Malo lactic fermentation and then blended. The ML adds weight and softens the high acidity so that the flavors and aromas of stone fruit and white flowers shine. 

Color: Lemon yellow. 

Nose: Lemon, citrus flower, Granny Smith apple, 

Palate: Light and refreshing, lemon comes through on the palate as well, Better when nicely chilled, there is a sweet tart thing going on, 

Pairing: Great with cured meats and mild nutty cheeses. Try tete Moines or a Guryere. It did fine with the procuitto and melon, the more procuitto the better. Nice with the rich halibut, fantastic with the roasted garlic smeared on the garlic bread. The nice lemon seasoning on the halibut over the grill. Great with the grilled zucchini. I liked it with the yellow zucchini a bit more, it seemed a bit sweeter. Sue was happy with the green zucchini loving the dance between the char, the savory and the wine. 

2020 L’Ecole  Grenache Rose Horse Heaven Hills Alder Ridge Vineyard  ABV 13.5%; RS 4.5 g/l;  acid 3.25
SRP $16 SOLD OUT at the winery
1000 cases produced; sample for my review

L’Ecole has been making dry rose for over 10 years. In 2009, their first bvintage was more cranberry colored than pale pink but they’ve fine tuned their process over the years. 

The grapes are grown intentionally from one specific 5 acre block vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills which limits production to 1000 cases. They are machine harvested early in the day, sorted, macerated, and transported so the skin contact ranges from 2-24 hours.  Dry ice is used to keep the grapes cool to retain aromatics.

Color: Pale salmon, hints of gold. 

Nose: Freshly picked flowers, stock, freesia, sweet cherry 

Palate: Sweetness with acidity, 

Pairing: Think pulled pork, very nice with our melon and procuitto appetizer. The wine handles the ripe melon beautifully and embraces the salty procuitto.    Fabulous with a bit of Pinot Grigio soaked salami. This is another wine that is fantastic with cured meats; ham and salami is its friend. The black pepper and basil on the grilled vegetables are so nice with the wine. The wine defines the spices in the meal. The halibut is also nice with the wine. The wine loves the char in the meal. This is a great all around BBQ wine. We both felt it would be great with BBQ chicken.  

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