Saturday, August 14, 2021

Washington Wine Month Featuring L'Ecole and Luke Wines

The months of March and August annually are Washington wine months so I enjoy the opportunity to taste through some more wines from the state.  Washington state features 1,000 wineries located across 19 AVA’s.  I tasted through some different wines from Washington over the past week and am featuring some from L’Ecole Winery and Luke Wines. 

The Wineries 

Luke Wines are new to me so I enjoyed tasting through a few of their many selections.  Luke Wines are located in the Columbia Valley AVA in a sub-appellation AVA called Wahluke Slope created in 2006.  The Columbia Valley is located in the southeastern part of Washington state and the Wahluke Slope is one of the dry and warmest microclimates in the AVA.   You can find the Wahluke Slope located between the Columbia River in the south and west along with the Saddle Mountains to the north.  It produces about 20% of the Washington’s wine production and about 9,000 acres are planted to vines over 80,000 acres.  Primarily the grapes are red based and are grown in more gravelly, rocky soils.  

Luke Wines was started in 2012 by a husband and wife team, Thomas and Kristin Vogele.  The name is pulled from the name Wahluke, which is derived from the Native American word meaning “watering place”.  The Wanapum were original settles of the land.  From what I read this area seems to remind folks of the wild west and would be my assumption as to why the labels are depicted that way.  Their aim is to produce ripe, fuller bodied wines from distinct vineyards and I can attest that these wines were indeed full bodied, more fruit forward and jammy.   

Washington wine AVAs
The Washington wine AVA's ~ Copyright of

Also, if you've been following along this year I've been an ambassador in 2021, along with a variety of other wine writers, to the L'Ecole Winery and have been enjoying quite the array of wines.  Although the year isn't complete, I feel the 2018 Syrah I tasted this week is my favorite red of theirs so far. You can read more about L'Ecole in my previous blog posts, "Summer is here with these Refreshing Pleasures from L'Ecole" and "Warm up with a Merlot and Pot Roast Pairing".

The Wines 

My top favorites were the 2018 L’Ecole Syrah Columbia Valley and the 2018 Luke Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope Columbia Valley with the 2018 Luke Merlot taking 3rd place.   

Syrah is the 3rd most planted grape in Washington state and as Marcus Rafanelli, winemaker at L’Ecole states, the 2018 vintage was a “unicorn vintage” with a great growing season.  The 2018 L’Ecole Syrah Columbia Valley is made from 80% Syrah along with 18% Grenache and 2% Mourvedre from four different vineyards, Stone Tree, Candy Mountain, Seven Hills and Summit View.  

2018 L'Ecole Columbia Valley Syrah

This wine showed big dark fruits on the nose.  Big, juicy acidity on the palate up front combined with rich dark fruits, mostly blackberries, with a spicy note.  Rather complex with tannins becoming silky on the lengthy finish.  SRP $25, ABV 15%  Marcus highly recommend bacon with Syrah along with garlic, thyme, oregano, rosemary rub.  Luckily I just had some homemade cheddar bacon cheeseburgers made by chef cousin this past weekend that couldn’t have been a better compliment to these wines along with BBQ ribs and panko crusted zucchini from the garden.

Bacon cheddar burgers with panko zucchini

The 2018 Luke Cabernet Sauvignon is made of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot grown in multiple vineyards as well: Weinbau, Obelisco, Southwine, Seven Hills and Ravenscliff.  The Luke wines I picked up a lot of black cherry including this wine along with some ripe raspberries, vanilla and herbal notes with a hint of chocolate.  Deep flavors of ripe fruits on the palate, fruit forward with tannins showing on the persistent finish.  SRP $25, ABV 14.4% 

 I also enjoyed their 2018 Luke Merlot with ripe raspberries, black cherry and some spice on the nose.  A well balanced wine full of ripe fruit and good acidity with a lingering finish.  The grapes come from the Stone Tree, Weinbau, Southwine, King Fuji and Ravenscliff vineyards.  SRP $25, ABV 14.7% 

Lukes Wines Wahluke Slope
I’ve yet to visit the state of Washington, but I’d love to hear from my readers on some of your favorite wines from Washington state.  Leave a comment.

*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.

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