A Tale of Two Merlots at the Grill #MerlotMe #WinePW

Duckhorn 3 Palms Merlot at the lake in a hammock

Promoting Merlot is grueling work, really!

Wine Pairing Weekend and MerlotMe
Our Wine Pairing Weekend group has had fun singing the praises of Merlot for the last 5 years, and we’re excited to continue the tradition in 2020. I’m not sure Merlot ever went away, though it certainly stepped out of the spotlight. Fortunately, the producers who loved the grape and have invested years of time and effort didn’t give up. For that we’re grateful. I’m kicking off my Merlot posts this October with an old favorite and a new-to-me winery.

Care to Join in with #MerlotMe?
The organizers at #MerlotMe have some fun ways for you to join us this month. First, check out the MerlotMe website, you’ll see some of our recipes highlighted from prior years. They even have a #MerlotMe Spotify Playlist you can download. Many of the wineries have special offers this month, including L’Ecole no. 41 and Selby – Special Offers.

Disclosure: The wines for this post were provided as samples. No other compensation was given, all opinions expressed are mine.

L’Ecole No. 41 Winery in Walla Walla, Washington
L’Ecole No. 41 is one of the original wineries established in Walla Walla back in 1983. The winery was originally located in the Frenchtown district 41 school. Today, the winery has outgrown the original building, though the offices, tasting room and event spaces are still located in the schoolhouse. Fortunately, many touches of the original schoolhouse have been preserved and restored, right down to chalkboards and a water fountain!

L’Ecole no. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot 2017

L’Ecole 41 Columbia Valley Merlot 2017 (sample, $24 SRP or online here)  14.5% abv
Eye: Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Clean, medium + intensity aromas of violets, deep fresh, ripe blackberries, blueberries, black plums. Caramel and vanilla, chocolate. A little alcoholic heat is present.
Mouth: Dry, with medium + intensity flavors of fresh ripe black fruits, caramel and vanilla.  Medium acidity, medium+ slightly grainy ripe tannins. High alcohol, full body with a plush texture. Nice medium+ finish with both fruit and caramel/vanilla lingering.
Observations: Ripe fruit and plush body are nicely balanced by the slightly grainy tannins. The oak is present but doesn’t take over, it just supports the other flavors.

Selby Winery in Sonoma, California
Selby Winery is a family owned winery started by Susie Selby and her dad back in 1994. Susie has worked diligently to keep and grow the winery and today still operates without any partners or investors.  Not an easy task in the California wine business!  The website says the wines are produced with an affinity to old world traditions, and I would agree their Merlot shows a nice restraint not always evident in California.

Selby Winery Sonoma County Merlot 2018

Selby Sonoma County Merlot 2018 (sample, $22 SRP or online here) 14.7% abv
Eye: Clear, medium ruby color
Nose: Clean, medium – intensity aromas of dark, fresh ripe fruit: blackberry, black plum, figs, a bit of raisins. A slight note of clean earth, perhaps aged in older oak.
Mouth: Dry, with medium intensity flavors of dark fruits all the way to a bit of raisin. Just a touch of clean earth.  Medium acidity, medium fine grained tannins, high alcohol, full body with a creamy texture and a nice medium+ finish.
Observations: Fun to compare this wine to the L’Ecole 41. Here, the nose is more restrained and oak aging is indicated only by the nice texture. Fruit is a little riper, trending into figs and a touch of raisins. Both wines are very nice and welcome at our table!

Slow Roasted Beef and Fall Vegetables with Merlot
One of the trademarks for Merlot is an easygoing nature at the dinner table. From a high-end steak to hamburgers, Merlot seems at home with virtually any red meat.  It doesn’t stop there. Over the last five years, we’ve enjoyed Merlots with spicy dishes, lamb shanks, burgers, even seared rare tuna. No surprise this year to find both wines paired wonderfully with both the meat and the earthy flavors of roasted fall vegetables. This is the perfect time of year to open that merlot!

Wine Pairing Weekend #MerlotMe Celebration Number 6!
This is our 6th year and our group continues to have a great time celebrating the Merlot grape in October. Join us as we chat all things Merlot on Saturday morning, Oct. 10 at 10-11:00am Central Time. Just look for us on Twitter at the hashtags: #MerlotMe and #WinePW.  Here are our posts, and be sure to look out for more in October, as our bloggers will no doubt be adding more posts!


22 Responses to “A Tale of Two Merlots at the Grill #MerlotMe #WinePW”
  1. wendyklik says:

    I wasn’t lucky enough to get the Selby but it sounds wonderful. I was excited to try the L’Ecole as it was a new to me wine. I was very pleased with it. Thanks for hosting again Jeff.

  2. Andrea Lemieux says:

    Wow, your dinner looks amazing as always! I’m jealous of the hammock.

  3. A delicious plate! Thanks for the notes on Selby…I have that still to open so that will help me think about pairing ideas!

  4. Lovely fall light and who is that relaxing in that hammock? (Happy retirement, yes?) Beautiful photographs as always! Nice notes also. Cheers and thanks for hosting and organizing!

  5. Merlot is the perfect wine to lean into all the Fall flavors, roasted vegetables, and of course red meat!

  6. All the best things of autumn on one plate – and paired with some really nice Merlot. What more do we need for fall?

  7. Lynn says:

    Two very nice wines and a plate that looks amazing at your fall table. We’re huge fans of grilling veggies, never turn them down. When are you coming out with a grilling and wine pairing book?!?

  8. Ah, the retired life! Lovely spot for Merlot paired with grilled meat and veggies. Can’t go wrong!

  9. Lori says:

    love the video!!! great job!

  10. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    The meal looks wonderful, but I must say, I think I’m most jealous of the scene at the top, just kicking back with a glass of Merlot in a hammock with your pup.

  11. robincgc says:

    That view! Wow!
    I enjoyed the Selby and look forward to popping open the L’Ecole 41. We have not a chance to visit the old schoolhouse on our visits to Washington. Next trip! As the temps cool here, I might have to jump on some of your grill recipes!

  12. Thanks for facilitating this great event Jeff. I love the look and sound of your Slow Roasted Beef and Fall Vegetables with Merlot

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