Friday, October 9, 2020

Fall is Here! Warm up with a Merlot and Pot Roast Pairing

October is my favorite month between the season change to fall enjoying that crisp, cool air, my birthday, anniversary and one of my favorite holidays.  What’s not to love!  Pumpkins and apples are in abundance and if you’re like me your brain starts to shift to thinking of more hearty recipes to pair with red wines.  This year marks the 6th anniversary of #MerlotMe month dedicated to you guessed it, Merlot.   

Merlot is one of the world’s most popular grapes.  It’s a soft, approachable wine, deeply colored, medium to full-bodied rich in berries, plums and occasional chocolate.  Depending upon how it’s produced the wines may have additional layers of vanilla and spice from oak aging.  Climate plays a major factor in the results of these wines whether they are grown in cool or warm climates around the world. 

Last year I had received quite the array of Merlot where I suggested MerlotMe pairings, but this year I received only one and it was nice to be able to focus on the one winery, L’Ecole.  Life has been quite challenging lately so I appreciated the break.       

The Winery ~ L’Ecole 

L’Ecole is a winery located in the Walla Walla Valley of Washington state.  The winery was founded in 1983 by Jean and Baker Ferguson whom really laid the groundwork and made a name not only for themselves, but the region as well.  They were the 3rd winery in Walla Walla and the 20th commercial winery in Washington state at that time.  The name L’Ecole No 41 derives from the French word for school.  Many French-Canadians settled in the area in the early 1800’s.  The Schoolhouse building you’ll find on their labels is located in the town of Frenchtown, west of Walla Walla.  The number 41 is the district number in which it is located. 

Megan and Marty were newly married when Megan’s family started the winery.  They were living in San Francisco at the time and would travel back to take part in the harvest.  They decided to move permanently to the area in 1989 and today work fulltime at the winery with their children, the third generation.  Marty is current winemaker and co-owner.   

You will find that their Estate Seven Hills Vineyard and Estate Ferguson vineyards are certified sustainable.  L’Ecole has received countless awards including being named Top Winery of the Year fifteen times by the Wine and Spirits Magazine.   

The Wine  

The 2017 L’Ecole No 41 Columbia Valley Merlot is a blend of Merlot grapes from a number of their older vineyard sites.  Their Columbia Valley line of wines are dependable quality showing the typicity of the region’s wines.   The Columbia Valley is the largest appellation in Eastern Washington.  The grapes are hand harvested and racked to small oak barrels (30% new oak) with 4 rackings aged over 18 months.  The wine is made of 81% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot. A full-bodied, structured and layered Merlot with lush black raspberries and plums with a touch of baking spice.  ABV 14.5% SRP $25 

L'Ecole Columbia Valley Merlot with pot roast

The Pairing ~ Pot Roast 

With so much stewed meat from a local farm we purchased I thought it would be great to try pairing this Merlot with pot roast.    Being on vacation this week at our vacation home in the Great North Woods of New Hampshire we took day trips with the kids so I definitely pulled out the crockpot for this meal.  Trying to balance a bunch of things all the time I have no shame in using one when needed, especially when the result was this tasty dish.   With this Merlot being rather hearty it stood up well to the flavors in this dish.  Beef in a variety of preparations has always proven to pair well with Merlot. 

What are your thoughts on Merlot?  Love it or hate it?  

Plenty more Merlot coming your way with my fellow food and wine lovers.  Join us live on Twitter this Saturday at 11am EST at #WinePW.  We look forward to seeing you there! 


*This wine was provided as a sample, but opinions are my own.


  1. I enjoyed this wine as well. I'll bet it paired nicely with the pot roast. Perfect Fall meal.

  2. No shame in using a crockpot! I wish I could get one but they don't really exist in Turkey. And sounds like it was a yum pairing!

  3. Happy birthday and anniversary! You're right about October representing a change in mind-set and taste; this pot roast and Merlot combo is one that belongs in every cook's repertoire.

  4. Pot roast and Merlot makes such a heartwarming combo! I have to say, I'm kinda jealous of your meat CSA.

  5. Fall and Merlot - so perfect together! Pot roast and L'Ecole Merlot on the farm sounds inviting.

  6. Merlot is so maleable. It can pair with so many different meals.

  7. With the craziness of life, I am so glad that you got to focus on a bottle of Merlot and time in Vermont with the family. I think I actually sighed when I read that. It sounds so cozy and peaceful, and the pairing sounds perfect.

  8. I agree with you, October is also one of my favorite months since moving to the south. The temperatures cool down and the hustle and bustle of the coming holidays is still in the future. Merlot and a pot roast are the perfect pairing for this change of seasons!

  9. You asked our thoughts on Merlot... I love it and when you find a producer who makes a Merlot you like, no comparison. However, it's not a grape I purposely seek out but one I stumble upon when someone says "I have a great wine for you to try." Have heard good things about L'Ecole and hope to taste it someday, perhaps with a bowl of cozy pot roast next to a crackling fire ;-)