Marty’s Thoughts on Why Semillon Shines in Washington State
Semillon may be the most widely planted white varietal in the world, but there are just a handful of winegrowing regions with the perfect mix of conditions allowing it to shine. When Semillon finds the right home; like in Washington and in Bordeaux- where it is the most widely planted white varietal, the resulting wines have the potential to be truly stunning.
“L’Ecole is one of the few wineries in the entire world to persist with
a really well made Semillon. Surely that grape’s time will come…
It has the body of Chardonnay and the aroma of Sauvignon Blanc
– surely a recipe for success?”
–Jancis Robinson, author of The Oxford Companion to Wine
For Semillon to excel, it needs long, warm, sunny days to ripen matched with cool nights so as to retain its natural acidity and beautiful balance. Similar to Bordeaux, Washington sits at 46° latitude receiving more than 17 hours of sunshine each day during the peak growing season. Uniquely, our vineyards see up to a 40° swing between daytime and nighttime temperatures. In the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains, eastern Washington is dry and warm with average precipitation of 6 to 10 inches giving us the ability to manage water in the vineyard and ensuring healthy fruit maturity with concentrated flavor development. I believe these are the key building blocks which lay the foundation for us to make such refined, aromatic, and beautifully balanced Semillons.
Premium Semillons have been the cornerstone of our white wine portfolio since our founding in 1983. We have maintained this high-quality by:
· Working with great vineyard sites throughout the Walla Walla and Columbia Valley focused on premium low-yield Semillon grapes.
· Whole cluster pressing of whites for reduced solids, and phenolic extraction.
· Barrel-fermentation in neutral oak prior to tank aging to give the Semillon a luscious mouthfeel while retaining its vibrant fruit characters.
Semillon Loves Food
Semillon is an exceptionally versatile food pairing wine due to its unique marriage of pronounced acidity and rich fleshiness. If you find yourself looking for inspiration, here are a few favorite pairing ideas from L’Ecole staff.
· Crab cakes served alongside gnocchi with a pesto-cream sauce and a lemony garlic green salad
· Whole roasted chicken with garlic, lemon and fresh tarragon served with couscous and roasted vegetables
· Summer garden fruit salad of strawberries and various melons
· Flatbread with shaved lemon, rosemary and fresh chévre
· Oysters on the half shell with a slice of lemon, baguette, and butter