Semillon. ‘S wonderful. ‘S marvelous. Well, one of out three.


A bottle of wine, a half full glass and a plate of strawberries.  Where art thou?

On first glance your high school science knowledge, coupled with a mistaken quick read, would make you think that Semillon is shorthand for half a million, just like I did. But no! In fact, it’s pronounced Semi-Yawn.

Which, frankly, when it comes to most white wines is what I start doing!

But I do happen to have a sweet tooth and, through the wonders of science, Semillon grapes, coupled with a mold (who thinks of these things? Who looks at a moldy grape and says ‘Eh, what the heck, I need to make some wine anyways’ or, for that matter, looks at a cow and says ‘Wow, that looks tasty.’), produce the wonderful dessert wine Sauternes which, as Epicurious reminds us, is expensive.

It’s also excessively sugary which, for the sweet tooth side of me is fine, but for the diabetic in me, isn’t quite as wonderful. In fact, I’d love to look at a sauternes but, unfortunately, I’ve been sick recently and that is also exceedingly bad for the diabetic in me, so I’m not looking to jump on the live grenade this weekend.

Instead, I’d like to look at a local winery here in the northwest, L’Ecole No. 41 from the wonderful ward of Walla Walla, Washington, who (hooray alliteration!) has been producing the Columbia Valley Semillon since 1984.

Now, if you’ve read my bio, you know that I’m not a white wine fan (except for the occasional already mentioned dessert wines). Don’t believe me? Here, this was me trying to figure out how to open the bottle.

A confused man in a kilt points a corkscrew at the bottom of the bottle.

Of course, that wouldn’t work, so, we moved on to…

A kilted man attempts to open the bottle with garden shears.

Now, before I ruined years of braces, thus breaking my high school orthodontist’s heart, by using my teeth, I discovered that white wine, much like red wines, have a bottle top that is stoppered with, get this, a *cork*[1]! Oh, saints be praised, I know how to open that.

But now, I guess, I actually have to drink this and, harder than that, convince the red-wine-only love of my life to help me drink it, since my stuffed nose prevents my ability to fully appreciate anything outside the visual medium.

We poured the wine, and as we are wont to do, tried the wine unadorned and unadulterated by any food just to sample its purity.

Well. I’m sure some people would love to hear how we were swayed by the subtle beauty of this wine and have suddenly become color-blinded when it came to wine, but, alas, the first few sips of this wine were harsh. Very. And I had to steel up with a good shot or two of scotch whisky before drinking the wine[3]. But, admittedly, after some sips, the wine lightened up. Not becoming welcoming, so much as palatable. Very very.. palatable. But not great.

We tried it with strawberries, before dinner. It didn’t exactly compliment the wine, didn’t fight it. So, on to dinner, which was a lovely grilled andouille sausage from Skagit River Ranch with Han’s Spicey Mustard from Zane and Zack’s, oven-roasted asparagus with grated cheese, and grilled chicken crusted with fennel salt[4].

The asparagus was much like the strawberries, but there was a slight mellowing of the wine that was vaguely intriguing.

Then, on to the sausage and mustard which totally and completely overwhelmed the wine. So much so that I could have sworn we were drinking water. But that wasn’t really surprising, the wine wasn’t a big bruiser, it was more of a wisp of a thing.

The Red Sox had just hit a home run to take the lead over the Yankees, so I was slowing down on the tasting when my girlfriend uttered an exclamation unrelated to the baseball goodness unfolding. Quickly she told me about a wine tasting she and a friend had attended, where they were given a white wine to taste. Following that, they were given a piece of mango, a piece of tomato and then some salt to put on the mango and learned how when tasting a wine, or at least that particular white wine, it was helpful to stimulate the various taste buds to savour the wine in different ways. Or, at least, that’s how she rememebers it. Now, the reason I’ve started along this entirely too long side trip is that she was amazed at how mellow the wine was along side the chicken.

Sure enough, she was right. A nice, salty dish mellows this wine out incredibly. So much so that looking back at the picture at the top, I realize that this picture might have been even better.

Wine, glass and ... salt grinder Yes. That is a salt grinder.
I could only imagine how it could be with a nice salty pizza crust, covered with fresh mozzarella, tomato slices, basil and prociutto. Well, I only will imagine it because, on the whole, I wasn’t overly thrilled with it. Should this stop you from trying it? I hope not.

Like I’ve said before, everyone likes something and something is liked by someone. Well, usually. If nobody likes it, it probably won’t be around for long.

And I’m definitely looking forward to trying more Walla Walla Wines.

[1] Or, of course, screwtop[2], fake cork, or those plastic topped pull out corks.

[2] Excuse me… *Stelvin Closure*.

[3] I told you I didn’t much care for white wines.

[4] 2 tbl oven toasted fennel seeds, crushed and mixed with 4 tsp sea salt.

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