Luminesce is L’Ecole No. 41’s Bordeaux inspired white wine blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. So I went in search of pairings. One thing that came up was salmon.
Inspired by White Bordeaux, I dug a bit further and found that Fukuoka is one of the Bordeaux sister cities. Michael and I visited Fukuoka years ago while doing an international tour of Smokey Joe’s Café. I remember staying in the beautiful city overlooking Hakata Bay near the baseball stadium. The city sits on the northern shore of Kyushu island.
Wanting to tap into that beauty and having salmon on my mind, I decided to make Temaki sushi. These are the beautiful hand rolls, that look like a cone of nori filled with delicious and beautiful things. Of course, I had never done this before, but…with a couple of YouTube videos under my belt, I decided to give it a try. But I’m going to make you wait a bit on this. First, let me tell you about this wine.
2020 Luminesce, Estate Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley
If you have been to Crushed Grape Chronicles before, you know that we have been tasting wines from L’Ecole No. 41 in Washington’s Walla Walla Valley. Walla Walla is not known for its white wines.
This is a warm climate region and 95% of the wines from Walla Walla are red. This is one of the rare finds of white wines.
The grapes for the Luminesce come from their Seven Hills Estate Vineyard, where they have just a few acres of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
These grapes were harvested in early September, before the fires and the smoke, which while it did not affect the vines via smoke taint, did cause hazy skies and cool temps which extended harvest.
A blend of 62% Semillon and 38% Sauvignon Blanc this wine was whole-cluster pressed and protected from oxidation. It did primary fermentation in neutral French Oak and then completed a full malolactic fermentation, which takes the edge of the acidity and gives the wine a rounder mouthfeel.
In addition, it aged sur lie (on the fine lees) for 4 months in oak with bâtonnage (stirring of the lees) every two weeks. This adds to the complexity and texture in your mouth.
14.5% abv – 1,350 cases produced – Available in August 2021- SRP $22
This wine was received as a media sample.
No other compensation was received and all opinions are our own.
What the 2020 Luminesce tastes like
In the glass, I found melded aromas of blossoms, white flowers, Meyer lemon, apple, pear, something tropical, perhaps lilikoi? There was a bit of chalk and a tiny hint of the lanolin that let me know this has some Semillon in it.
In my mouth, the wine was dry but had fruit-like sweetness. The acid is bright without being sharp making it wonderful for pairing. The body was richer on this wine from the bâtonnage.
With just 1,350 cases produced, this wine goes fast. It is available in the market through distribution, so, it is possible you may run into a bottle in a shop near you, but your best bet may be to find this on their website.
Update on the vineyard
With the heat we have been seeing in the West, I did ask about the vineyards and Constance was kind enough to share an update.
They are in their 3rd straight week of triple digits in Walla Walla. Grapevines will shut down when the temperature hits 110° F and they have been past that, often staying over 100° until after 6 pm. They do cool to 60° overnight, so they are getting quite a bit of diurnal shift.
Typically this time of year they are doing leaf pulling to let the berries get more sun as they start to head into veraison. This year they are waiting on that, allowing the extra leaves in the canopy to shade the vines and keep them cooler.
Of course, this means the vines are expending more energy to the leaves and the canopy. They will begin leaf pulling in the next few weeks to prepare for veraison.
To mitigate the heat, Sadie their vineyard manager has been misting the vines at the heat of the day on the hottest days. This fine mist cools the air without landing in large droplets on the vines. Luckily Walla Walla is a dry climate, so they can mist without fear of mildew.
This will be a vintage like 2015, Marty predicts, with Harvest beginning as early as August 13th or 14th, which is at least a week earlier than last year. This year will be low yield and high quality. They had wind stress during flower and fruit set, and they had an abrupt cold spell last winter causing the vines to go more quickly into dormancy than usual.
The Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc were hit especially hard, which means that rather than 2 bunches per shoot, they were lucky to get one. With the heat event, bunches will be smaller. So as small as the production was on the Luminesce this year, next year is likely to be even smaller.
Pairing with the Luminesce
Since the Luminesce is the same blend as a White Bordeaux, I wanted to tie in some flavors that tie those notes in.
Here’s what I came up with; smoked salmon with fresh dill, a spread of cream cheese and goat cheese (to pull out the notes in the Sauvignon Blanc), cucumber, carrot, then topped with microgreens, for their sheer beauty, and fish roe.
We used both Ikura (salmon roe) and Tobiko (Flying Fish Roe). I’ll include the recipe card below.
Truly any kind of sushi would go well.
Other suggested pairings for the Luminesce include crab or halibut cakes, cream sauces, prosciutto-wrapped melon, scallops, or richer seafood.
My friend Liz suggested aged white cheddar or a mustard herbed chicken. Constance at the winery was daydreaming of this wine with a simple baguette with butter and ham, which I think sounds divine.
We did a bit of a fusion mix on our temaki to pair with this white wine. The Luminesce wine from L'Ecole No. 41 in Walla Walla Washington is made in the style of a white Bordeaux. Bordeaux has a sister city in Fukuoka Japan. So we riffed on this theme and created a handroll that incorporated some French flavor adding goat cheese and dill.
It makes for a spectacular presentation and it's delicious. This should make 4 temaki (hand rolls). Enough for 2 people.
- 2 sheets of Nori (8´x 7.5”)
- ½ cup cooked sticky rice
- 1/2 tsp sushi vinegar
- 2 tbs cream cheese
- 2 tbs goat cheese
- ¼ cup carrot julienned
- ¼ cup cucumber peeled and julienned
- ½ cup smoked salmon diced
- 1 tsp fresh dill
- 2 tbs microgreens
- 2 tbs fish roe; ikura (salmon) or tobiko (flying fish)
- Cook the rice, let it cool, and place in a large flat dish
- Season the rice with sushi vinegar
- Wet your hands and form them into small balls or logs for each hand roll
- Mix the cream cheese and goat cheese
- Chop the salmon & Mix with dill
- Peel and julienne the Carrot & cucumber
- Cut the Nori in half, into 8” x 3.75” rectangles (scissors work well here)
- Place a dish of cold water and towel on your dominant side
- Layout your ingredients: carrot, cucumber, rice, salmon, cream cheese, microgreens, & roe
- Make sure your nondominant hand is dry and place the Nori in this hand
- Place a ball of rice on the left side of the Nori, make it into a triangle or diamond shape flattening it with your finger, wetting that finger carefully so the rice does not stick to you.
- Spread a bit of the cream cheese mixture on top
- Add some of the salmon on top
- Place a few pieces of carrot to one side and some of the cucumber to the other
- Roll into a cone (be careful to keep your hands dry when they touch the Nori)
- Use one piece of rice to seal the cone
- Top with microgreens and Finish with roe
It's important to keep the Nori dry. If it gets wet it will shrink up. To keep it from getting soggy, keep it in your dry hand, not on the counter to make the rolls, and be careful to keep your wet hand from touching it.
The water and towel are important as the rice is sticky and it will stick to your hand and make this process impossible. a dish of water to rinse your fingers in and a folder towel to wipe them dry will be very helpful.
You can mix up your fillings to suit your palate! Be creative!
Amount Per Serving Calories 263Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 139mgSodium 1354mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 21g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
More from Crushed Grape Chronicles on Washington Wines and L’Ecole No. 41
- Eleanor – an homage to family by Caprio Cellars
- Cabernet Franc-Melot a limited rare gem from L’Ecole No. 41 in Walla Walla Washington
- Mike Sauer and the stories of Washington’s Legendary Red Willow Vineyard
- Hedges Family Estate – Red Mountain Washington – the history
- Yakima Valley AVA – Blends of friendship and history with wines from Eight Bells and Pearl and Stone Co.
- Syncline Winery Stunning Wines in the Tortured Topography of the Columbia Gorge AVA
- Burgers with blue cheese bacon jam and sauteed mushrooms and a L’Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.