Disclosure: The wine was provided to me as a media sample. All opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
Sheet pan dinners are the solution to a busy weeknight dinner. They are easy to assemble, and my favorite part, they don’t create a huge post kitchen cleanup. I made two different sheet pan dinners; Smoked Paprika Chicken and Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables to pair with L’Ecole No 41 Winery’s new small-production Cabernet Franc-Merlot wine. What better way to bring a hectic day into balance than to slow down and enjoy dinner with family or friends and a glass of wine.
This month I am partnering with L’Ecole No 41 Winery in Walla Walla Valley to taste and create food pairings with their new small production 2018 Cabernet Franc/Merlot Estate blend. L’Ecole is a third-generation family-owned artisan winery founded in 1983. They were the 3rd winery established in Walla Walla. Their focus is producing ultra-premium wines that reflect Washington State’s unique terroir using traditional winemaking methods.
The 2018 L’Ecole Cabernet Franc/Merlot is a blend of two classic Right Bank Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Cabernet Franc is known for its moderate tannins, pigment, and acidity. It often displays aromas and flavors of tea, forest floor, moss, herbs, cocoa, violet, strawberry, cranberry, and mulberry. Merlot also tends to have moderate tannins and pigment with medium to low acidity and high alcohol. Commonly found flavors and aromas in Merlot are blackberries, blueberry, cherry, plum, bell pepper, olives, fennel, tomato leaf, with hints of sweet cigar box, tobacco, mushroom, coffee, spice, and cocoa.
The grapes for this wine are sourced from L’Ecole’s estate vineyards;
Ferguson Vineyard – located at the southern border of the Walla Walla AVA with elevations between 1350-1450 feet. The soils are composed of shallow wind-blown loess overlying fractured basalt.
“This site’s individuality sets the stage for distinctive, terroir-driven wines! Ferguson’s unique vineyard characteristics deliver big structure, dark fruit with high natural acidity, and rich minerality that emanate in every glass.” – Marty Clubb
Seven Hills Vineyard – is a 170-acre vineyard located on the southern border of the Walla Walla AVA. The vineyard elevations are between 900-1100 feet. The soils are deep loess overlying ice-age flood silt.
Seven Hills Vineyard is one of the oldest in Walla Walla. In 2004, it was named one the “Ten Great Vineyards of the World,” by Wine & Spirits Magazine.
The grapes were hand-harvested and gently crushed in stainless steel fermenters. Hand punch downs and gravity-assisted movements were used throughout the winemaking process. The wine was aged in French oak barrels (30% new) for 18 months.
Only 298 cases of this wine were produced. L’Ecole’s wine club members will receive this in their March allocation. It is also available online at L’Ecole No 41 while supplies last!
My Tasting Notes
2018 L’Ecole No 41 Cabernet Franc/Merlot Estate Walla Walla
14.5% abv | $39.00 SRP (sample) | 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot
Medium ruby in color. Aromas of herbs, red and black fruit, and cedar. On the palate, dry with medium body, medium (+) tannins, acidity, and alcohol. Flavors of dried herbs, floral notes of violets, and roses with blackberry, plum, and cherries. Well balanced with an overall savory character.
My Food Pairings
The medium weight and higher acidity of this wine set the stage for pairings beyond the typical red meat pairing – savory and floral notes in the wine dominate, followed by dark fruit notes. I focused on matching the wine’s weight and savoriness with a sheet pan chicken dish full of flavor. The generous use of herbs and spices; smoked paprika, fennel seeds, garlic granules, and thyme, along with dark meat chicken thighs (breasts to accommodate a few family members), and the high roasting temperature, make this a successful pairing. In addition, adding the fresh baby kale to complement any green characteristics in the wine. The hint of Meyer lemon for freshness and to match the acidity on the wine.
The other sheet pan dinner of Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables hits many of the chicken dish’s same components. Many herbs and spices, high-temperature roasting, and adding eggplant, with a degree of bitterness, complements the tannins in the wine.
Sheet Pan Smoked Paprika Chicken
- 3-1/2-4 lbs. chicken thighs and breasts, bone-in, skin-on I used 4 thighs and 2 breasts
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2-1/2 (divided) teaspoons smoked paprika I use La Chinata sweet smoked paprika
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed I use a mortar and pestle
- 1 teaspoon garlic granules
- 12 sprigs fresh thyme
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Meyer lemon
- 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 6 cups baby kale
- 1 medium red onion, sliced thin
- flaked salt for finishing I use Maldon sea salt flakes
- In one small bowl combined; 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 3-4 grindings of black pepper, 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds, and 1 teaspoon garlic granules. Set aside.
- In another small bowl combine; 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, and 3-4 grindings of pepper. Set aside.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place chicken skin side down. On the underside of the chicken sprinkle the contents of the first bowl (the one with the fennel seeds) evenly over the chicken pieces. Flip the chicken to skin side up. Gently insert 2 thyme springs under the skin of each chicken piece. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the skin of the chicken pieces and rub gently to evenly spread the olive oil. Sprinkle the contents of the second bowl of spices evenly over the skin side of the chicken pieces. Make sure the chicken is well spaced and not touch one another.
- Place the seasoned chicken in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours (if possible).
- Before you are ready to bake, take the chicken out of the refrigerator for 30 minutes at room temperature.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Bake the chicken for 30 minutes.
- While the chicken is baking, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Cut the lemon in half lengthwise, and reserve the other half for another use. Slice the half lemon in half again lengthwise and then slice slice each piece crosswise into thin triangles. Drop the lemon triangles into the boiling water for 1 minute; drain.
- In a medium shallow bowl, combine the blanched lemon slices, onion slices, drained chickpeas, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, and a pinch of salt. Toss to combine.
- After the chicken has baked for 30 minutes, baste the chicken with the pan juices. Scatter the lemon chickpea mixture around the chicken pieces. Continue to roast the chicken for another 20 minutes or until the chicken breasts measures 165 degrees F with a meat thermometer. Remove the chicken to a platter and keep warm. Continue to roast the chickpea mixture for another 5-7 minutes or until they are golden in color and slightly crispy.
- Remove the sheet pan of chickpeas from the oven. Scatter and toss the kale into the chickpea mixture.
- To Serve: Place the chicken on a serving platter and scatter the chickpea and kale mixture around the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaked salt.
Sheet-Pan Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables
- 1 medium eggplant, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 medium zucchinis, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into 6 lengthwise stripes
- 3 small fennel bulbs, cut in halve lengthwise
- 12 small potatoes, cut in halve
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon garlic granules
- 1 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large shallow bowl, add the vegetables, herbs, spices, olive oil. Mix well to evenly coat the vegetables. Season with kosher salt and pepper.
- Transfer the vegetables to the baking sheet. Try not to overlap the vegetables for better browning. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables have taken on a golden brown color and are cooked through.
- Serve with a simple salad and some goat cheese of feta.
Sources Used:L’Ecole No 41, “Perfect Pairings” and “Daring Pairings,” by Evan Goldstein