Sipping with Grace: L’Ecole Semillon and sushi

The second pairing for this Week of Savory, a two-part series featuring savory wines



This is the 2021 L’Ecole Semillon and sushi rolls from Red Bento.

JARED GRACE, Evergreen columnist

As the end of the semester draws near, I thought of doing something a little different to go out with a bang.

For this week, I will be pairing two savory (more acidic and dry) wines: a Grenache Rosé and a Semillon. Last week, I paired two sweet wines: a sweet red and a sweet white. I am calling these weeks the Week of Sweet and the Week of Savory.

Both of these wines took much deliberation and tasting to choose a final pairing. However, these two wines can be paired with a lot of different meals, so give them a try with your favorite foods; it might surprise you.

The second wine of the Week of Savory is the 2021 L’Ecole Semillon of Stillwater Creek Vineyards, composed of 100% Semillon grapes. Semillon wines can take on two different distinctions, being considered either very young and zesty or being oaked and generally bolder. This wine falls into the latter category.

Being oaked and generally pleasantly medium-high-bodied, this type of Semillon wine can be very easily equated to an oaked Chardonnay. Having many of those developed characteristics like vanilla, oak and toastiness, it can be easy to spot the similarities, especially when their color supports this as well. 

This wine in particular has an ABV, or alcohol by volume, of 13.5% and a pH of around 3.39, leaving a mouth-watering and mouth-warming feeling. Starting with grassy notes of lychee, lemongrass and Asian pear, it finishes with the aforementioned refined oaked notes.

These are the Oh Honey and Dynamite sushi rolls from Red Bento.

I paired this wine with the Dynamite and Oh Honey rolls from Red Bento. However, this pairing is different from other pairings of mine; this pairing will be with each roll separately and will exemplify different aspects of the wine.

Starting with the Dynamite roll, we have a California roll consisting of crab, cucumber and avocado, topped with scallops, masago, scallions and a creamy and spicy bake sauce. This roll is spicy, creamy and slightly oily. Using this roll for the pairing will be great if you like a more prominent alcohol-warming mouthfeel and stronger acidities.

Now, with the Oh Honey roll, we find a very sweet roll with ingredients that would probably make us think that it would be spicy.

This roll is sweeter but also very rich and oily. The honey of the Oh Honey roll increases the acidity with sweetness, but the fatty and oily fish overcompensates, bringing the acidity back down by a lot. This results in a net-negative in terms of acidity, allowing those fruity flavors and aromas to shine.

Using this roll for pairings will be great if you like more prominent fruity flavors and perceived sweetness, allowing for a less dry and bitter-tasting experience.

These rolls might be considered overpowering in most pairing cases. However, both of these rolls work perfectly with the Semillon because of how acidic the wine is, allowing the wine to cut through all of the rich flavors with grace.

Finally, the pickled ginger that comes with the sushi will round out the pairing regardless of the roll that you choose. The pickled ginger can balance out the spice with extra acidity and bring out more fruity flavors, taking those harsh changes that the sushi brings to the wine and making them a bit more cooperative.

To consume this wine at its best, I would recommend opening it while at room temperature and putting it in the fridge 15 minutes before serving.

Winery: L’Ecole No 41

Varietal: Semillon

Vintage: 2021

Locations: Royal Slope, Stillwater Creek Vineyard

Price: $22–30

Pairing: Dynamite and Oh Honey rolls from Red Bento

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!