Sipping with Grace: L’Ecole Syrah with chocolate lava cake

The perfect wine for that Valentine’s Day date dessert



This is the L’Ecole No. 41’s Columbia Valley Syrah and the chocolate lava cakes my partner Kestra Engstrom made.

JARED GRACE, Evergreen columnist

L’Ecole No. 41’s 2019 Columbia Valley Syrah is full-bodied with a smooth and satisfying mouthfeel; it’s like a whole meal right at the tip of your tongue. L’Ecole Syrah is peppery, with notes of blueberry, violet, dark red fruit and licorice. This wine is 15% alcohol and 100% Shieaz/Syrah grapes.

Syrah is unique because it has very spicy aromas and flavors that bring a heat to your mouth that you don’t find in most other varietals. This, paired with the light astringency, brings out a smooth yet savory mouthfeel.

This wine smells just like blueberry pie, or even cobbler. When you drink it, the wine takes you to what feels like a picnic of baked goods in a field of dark fruit.

A tip for smelling wine is to, before drinking, stick your entire nose inside the glass and breathe in deeply. Then, take your nose out, swirl the glass around to aerate the wine and repeat. This is a great way to unlock all of the aromas intended in this wine.

These are the chocolate lava cakes Kestra Engstrom made.

I paired this wine with a chocolate lava cake. For this dessert, my partner and I used bittersweet chocolate, which pairs best with the Syrah.

When pairing chocolate with wine, it is better to pair a sweeter chocolate like milk chocolate with a dessert wine like a port. Bolder wines, like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, pair better with dark chocolate, which brings out the underlying flavors of this wine that are usually quite dense and stick to your mouth.

We used bittersweet chocolate because we were making chocolate lava cake, which has a molten chocolate center. When paired with a mousse or other kinds of melted chocolate, I have found that dark chocolate ends up being a little too harsh. The semi-sweetness of bittersweet chocolate, however, brings out the spice of the wine while also keeping the texture smooth and appealing.

To consume this wine at its best, I recommend opening it and putting it in the fridge 15 minutes before serving. This should chill the wine to about 60–65 degrees while also aerating the wine enough to release those flavors and aromas.

Winery: L’Ecole No. 41

Varietal: Syrah

Vintage: 2019

Locations: Columbia Valley, Washington

Price: $25–29

Pairing: Chocolate Lava Cake

I would like to emphasize that this column is not a review; my purpose for writing this series is to provide as much information about a wine as I can so that you can find your niche.

If you would like to inquire about anything I have talked about in these columns or recommend wines for me to pair in the future email me at [email protected]

Drink up!