Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Wine Wednesday~~Celebrating the Harvest with L'Ecole Frenchtown Red

 I am very pleased to have been chosen to be an ambassador for L'Ecole wines.  Each month they generously send me two bottles of wine.  One to open and taste with them during a zoom meeting with staff and winemaker.  This meeting is where we learn the background of each wine, how it was made, what they were striving for and how well said wine meets their expectations.  It is very interesting and I get to spend an hour with like minded bloggers who have become friends over the years.


I get no monetary compensation as an ambassador. I am just supplied with wines, asked to join the zoom meeting when possible and to taste and pair the wines I have been sent.  I then share my thought about this wine with my readers.  All opinions are 100% my own and reflect only my thoughts and palate.

This month we are tasting and pairing their Frenchtown Red.  This is an early harvest red blend of 6 different grapes.....a preview of the wines to come.

Pasta and Wine

I received two bottles of this lovely wine from Columbia Valley.  Our theme for this wine was celebrating the harvest.  I opened the first bottle when I came home from the Farmer's Market where I had bought some spinach and cheese ravioli from one of my favorite farmstands.  They make wonderful italian pastas, both dried and frozen, freshly baked breads and the most awesome cannoli you have every eaten.

I had also bought some fresh spinach while there and when I got home I gathered some basil from my herb garden and made up a batch of pesto.  I made a Spinach Pesto Pasta and then opened the first bottle of Frenchtown Red.  

The pasta was scrumptious.  The wine was glorious.  The pairing was very sad........

So I switched to water with my dinner and enjoyed that bottle of Frenchtown Red all on it's own. This wine is a blend of 79% Bordeaux grapes (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot) and 21% grapes from the Rhone Valley (Syrah and Grenache).

As I was enjoying this wine after dinner, I noted strong notes of spice and licorice along with a fruitiness that was very smooth and subtle.  I thought that pasta was a good pairing but that the sauce I had used was all wrong for this wine.

Pasta with Italian Sausage and Fennel

I decided to make another pasta dish with harvest from my local farmer's market.  This time going with a tomato based sauce flavored with Italian sausage, fennel and onion.  OH MY WORD.....this pairing was absolutely spot on.

The wine is named for the French Canadian settlers who founded and established the first wine making community in Columbia Valley in the early 1800's.  This blend of the grapes L'Ecole grows for their wines is wonderful....if it is a sign of what we can expect from the varietals we are going to be very pleased with what is yet to come.

You can learn more about how to get your own bottle of this wine from this site.  Do yourself a favor and print out this recipe now so that when you get your bottle you can experience this amazing pairing.

Yield: 8 servings
Author: Wendy Klik
Pasta with Italian Sausage and Fennel

Pasta with Italian Sausage and Fennel

Fennel bulb, onion, garlic and sweet Italian Sausage combined in a thick, hearty tomato sauce and served over penne pasta. A quick easy dinner perfect for enjoying as the weather starts to cool.
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 30 MinTotal time: 40 Min


  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage, casings removed
  • 1 lg. fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered and sliced, reserve fronds
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, sliced
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes in puree
  • 1/4 c. dry red wine
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. Penne Pasta or other short pasta
  • Shredded 3 Italian Cheese blend or Parmesan Cheese


  1. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over med high heat.  Add the sausage, cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon until browned and crumbly.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
  2. Add the fennel and onion to the pot.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened and onion is translucent.  Add the garlic, tomatoes and wine.  Season with additional salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer while you cook the pasta.
  3. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Ladle the pasta directly from the cooking water to the sauce. Stir to combine and add a bit more cooking water if you desire a thinner sauce.
  4. Turn the pasta into a serving bowl and garnish with cheese and the reserved fennel fronds.


Adapted from a recipe found in Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman.

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