Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Allan Shoup’s and Gilles Nicault’s Long Shadows Wines from Washington State, USA

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Gilles Nicault in Washington State, USA, Armin and Caroline Diel at Schlossgut Diel in Germany and Giovanni Folonari in Washington DC, USA

Long Shadows in Walla Walla has become, in a short time, one of the premier wineries in Washington State. It is an unusual set up: Former Simson-Lane CEO Allen Shoup works with renowned winemakers from around the world for this venture; each winemaker produces a single wine using Washington State fruit and resident winemaker Gilles Nicault assists them to shepherd all of the wines along at Long Shadows in Walla Walla.

I visited Long Shadows Vintners in June 2011 and focused with Gilles Nicault on Armin Diel’s Poet’s Leap Riesling. This posting provides an overview of the Long Shadows Vintners Portfolio

Allan Shoup and Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla

When Allen Shoup retired to create Long Shadows in Walla Walla after twenty years at the helm of the Stimson-Lane wine group (which owns Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest and other wineries), his goal was to bring the expertise of renowned winemakers from around the world to Washington State to create wines that would stand shoulder to shoulder with the World’s best. His vision is now unfolding. Long Shadows winemaker-partners are designing world-class wines comparable in stature to those they crafted in their native wine regions.

Pictures: Gilles Nicault

Allan Shoup earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Michigan in 1965. While pursuing a graduate degree in psychology from Eastern Michigan University, he was drafted into the Army and sent to work at the Pentagon as a psychologist. He eventually crossed paths with Ernest Gallo, who gave him his first job in the wine industry. In 1979, he went to work for Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington, eventually becoming CEO of the parent Stimson Lane Wine Group. It was here that he developed the professional and personal connections that led to the formation of Long Shadows.

Gilles Nicault

Resident winemaker Gilles Nicault is the daily overseer of Long Shadows. After learning his craft in the Rhône Valley, Provence, and Champagne, he came to Washington State in 1994. He worked at Staton Hills Winery, Hogue Winery, and Woodward Canyon, where he was head of enology and production from 1999 to 2003, before being hired by Alan Shoup at Long Shadows.

Long Shadows Wines and Vintners

Poet’s Leap and Armin Diel of Schlossgut Diel, Germany

Armin Diel joined the Long Shadows project in 2003 with his Poet’s Leap Riesling. Poet's Leap is fermented off-dry, offering flavors of freshly peeled grapefruit, appealing minerality and hints of ripe pears. Bright acidity gives the wine its vibrance, and a clean underlying touch of sweetness contributes to its engaging finish.

Pictures: Caroline Diel and Poet's Leap

Armin Diel selects his grapes from a dramatic block of German clones in The Benches. Armin also works with a 1972 planting of Dionysus and fruit from the Yakima valley.

To maximize the grapes’ freshness and lively acidity, Armin asks the vineyard team to maintain an extensive canopy during the growing season. The fruit is hand-picked and whole-cluster-pressed. It is then fermented at cool temperatures in stainless steel tanks to capture the grapes' bright fruit character before selecting the best lots for the final blend.

Poet’s Leap Riesling 2009, $20, 3,200 cases made.

See more:

Visiting Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla, Washington State - Where Armin Diel’s Poet’s Leap Riesling is Made, USA

President Obama Serves a “German” Riesling at State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao

Visiting Armin and Caroline Diel and their Schlossgut Diel in Burg Layen in Germany

Feather and Randy Dunn, California

Randy Dunn is one of the world’s most celebrated makers of extraordinary Cabernet Sauvignons. He established his reputation at Caymus Winery from 1975 to 1985, where his Cabernet Sauvignons became the benchmark for the industry. In addition, his artistry shaped other premium wineries that now enjoy an acclaimed place in the sun (Pahlmeyer, Livingston, La Jota and others). Since 1979, Randy Dunn has produced roughly 5,000 cases a year of his Dunn Vineyards Cabernets.

Randy Dunn has produced his Feather Cabernet Sauvignon since the 2003 vintage. During the peak of fermentation, he uses vigorous pumpovers to achieve maximum extraction. Once in barrel, Feather is aged in 95%-new French oak.

Sequel and John Duval, Australia

Few winemakers are as synonymous with the iconic wines of a country as John Duval, best known for his work with Penfolds’ Grange, the gold standard for Australian Shiraz.  John joined Penfolds winery in 1974 after completing his studies in agriculture and winemaking. He was appointed Penfolds’ chief winemaker in 1986. During his 16-year tenure, John helped establish Penfolds as one of the world’s most celebrated wineries.

After 28 years, John stepped down from the company in 2002 to establish John Duval Wines. In addition to making his own wine, John traveled to the Columbia Valley in 2003 at the invitation of Allen Shoup to make his first U.S. wine, Sequel, a name chosen in recognition of his life’s work with Syrah.
Sequel Syrah 2007, $55, 1,950 cases made.

Saggi and Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari, Chianti Classico

The Folonaris are among Italy’s oldest and most prestigious Tuscan wine families with a winemaking history dating back to the late 1700s. Today, Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari Tenute, conceived by this father-son team as a collection of small, beautifully located vineyards producing primarily Tuscan “grand crus,” is recognized for its distinctive, small-production wines from the family’s numerous estates. Both Ambrogio and Giovanni, a University of California at Davis enology graduate, are directly involved in winemaking. Prior to launching A. e G. Folonari Tenute, Ambrogio was the president of Ruffino, originally purchased in 1912 by Ambrogio’s grandfather.

Pictures: Long Shadows Winery

The Folonaris’ Saggi (Italian for “wisdom”) was launched in 2004. Most of the Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah for this super- Tuscan-style blend come from Horse Heaven Hills. Once in barrel, Saggi ages in 55%-new French oak.

Saggi 2007, $45 43% Sangiovese, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Syrah, 2,145 cases.

I met Giovanni Folonari at the Kobrand Tour d"Italia 2011 in Washington DC.  See more: Kobrand’s Impressive Tour d'Italia 2011 in Washington DC, USA

Piroutee and Agustin Huneeus Sr and Philippe Melka, California

Augustin Huneeus teamed up with Philippe Melka, his Quintessa winemaker, to produce the Bordeaux-style Pirouette beginning with the 2003 edition. Fermentation takes place in 400-liter, mechanically rotated oak barrels, using only native yeasts. The wine is aged in 75%-new French oak.

After two earlier appearances in Napa Valley, the Frenchman Philippe Melka returned in 1994.  Philippe Melka graduated from the University of Bordeaux, France, where he received a degree in geology in 1989.

Agustin Huneeus, Sr. embarked upon his legendary career in the wine industry over four decades ago.  He founded premier wineries both in California and Chile, and guided others to worldwide acclaim. Wines and wineries achieving prominence under Agustin Huneeus’s hand include Veramonte (Primus) and Concha y Toro of Chile, and Franciscan Oakville Estate, Mount Veeder, Estancia and Quintessa of California. Along with his winery at Long Shadows Vintners, Agustin Huneeus retains ownership in Veramonte and Quintessa.

Pedestral and Globetrotting Super-Consultant Michel Rolland, France

Pictures: Long Shadows Winery

Michel Rolland is considered to be one of the most influential winemakers in the world.  A graduate of the Bordeaux Faculty of Oenology, he continues to build upon this practical source of knowledge through observations in his own laboratory in Pomerol, France.  He consults for over 100 vintners and vineyards on every continent, producing wines with an alluring style recognized as the “Rolland Method”.

Michel Rolland also maintains partnership interests in far-flung regions of the globe, including his involvement with Long Shadows.  His home, however, is in Pomerol, where he owns and manages a number of holdings and fine wine estates: Chateau Le Bon Pasteur in Pomerol, Chateau Bertineau Saint-Vincent in Lalande-de-Pomerol, Chateau Rolland-Maillet in Saint-Emilion, and Chateau Fontenil in Fronsac. In addition, Michel Rolland manages the Chateau La Grande Clotee in Lussac-Saint-Emilion under a vineyard lease system.

Gilles Nicault began making the Pedestal Merlot, alongside Michel Rolland, with the 2003 release. They obtain the Merlot and small percentages of other Bordeaux varieties from vineyards around the Columbia Valley, focusing on Red Mountain and the Wahluke Slope. Pedestal is fermented in 5,500-liter wood tanks made in France exclusively for Michel Rolland. The wine is then aged in 85%-new French oak.

Pedestal 2007, $55, 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, 2,005 cases made.

Chester-Kidder and Gilles Nicault/Alan Shoup

Chester-Kidder is a Bordeaux-style blend named after Alan Shoup’s grandmother and grandfather. Most of the Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from warm vineyard sites on Red Mountain and Candy Mountain. Gilles Nicault keeps the juice in contact with the skins for as long as 40 days during fermentation, then ages the wine for 30 months in 90%-new French oak.

Chester-Kidder 2006, $50, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Syrah, 10% Petit Verdot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 1,689 cases.

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1 comment:

  1. Christian, I'm jealous of your travels. I've tasted all of Long Shadows' wines, and they're all very good. The international cooperative aspect is great as well. Cheers!