Part 18, Washington State: visiting one of North America's leading wine
Long Shadows is an interesting wine project, and it's
the brainchild of Allen Shoup (above), who has an important
history in Washington State's wine scene.
Originally from the cosmetics business, Allen then
worked for Gallo before moving to LA to become head of Max Factor
marketing. Then, he was hired by Chateau Ste Michelle and became
CEO, a position he held
for 17 years. It is hard to underestimate the importance of Ste
Michelle to the Washington State wine industry, and although Allen
humbly suggests that he merely did what any other fairly smart
individual would have done in the situation, under his watch company
revenues grew from $5m to $175m, and the state’s vineyard area rose
from 5000 acres to 30 000 acres.
'We worked hard to develop the entire industry,'
Shoup recalls. 'This investment, and also social phenomena, made the
change. The USA wasn't a wine country until 1980. We had a
Chardonnay craze that brought us to wine, plus international travel,
plus gourmet culture. All these just came together and created a
huge wave, that we rode the crest of.' He adds, 'the reason
Washington is what it is today is because it is a unique region to
grow grapes in, but we didn't realize this at the time.'
He was instrumental in creating the Columbia Valley
AVA that basically covers all the wines produced in the state. 'I
felt strongly that Washington was the worst word you could have on a
wine label,' says Shoup. 'The word associations with Washington are
all negative. I felt that if we could create a viticultural
appellation that we could all put our hat on we could get people to
know the Columbia Valley.' But he doesn't think that it worked the
way he'd envisaged. 'If you are the person with the biggest house on
the hill there is a lot of resentment. People don't trust you. It is
not a healthy relationship. California had the same thing with
Gallo. As soon as I started to push the Columbia Valley as an
appellation it quickly Balkanised the other appellations.'
Allen left Ste Michelle in 2000, and began his own
venture. Aware from his Ste Michelle days of how much positive
impact a joint venture with a leading international consultant could
have on sales (Eroica with Ernie Loosen had been a great success),
he focused on his Vintners Collection of wines, where leading
winemakers joined forces with Long Shadows to create special wines.
He’s enlisted the help of Randy Dunn, Augustin Huneeus, Michel
Rolland, the Folonaris, Philippe Melka, John Duval and Armin Diel as
consulting partners for these wines. Shoup strongly admires what
Robert Mondavi achieved with the Opus One joint venture back in the
1970s. 'What Opus did for California: we will never understand how
important that was. Before this, Napa wines could never sell in New
The wines here are all very good, but they are
largely wines of style rather than necessarily place. There are some
highlights: I particularly like the Poet’s Leap Riesling, Feather
Cabernet Sauvignon and Sequel Syrah. But they are ripe wines,
weighing in with late 14s alcohol (for the reds), and accompanying
sweetness and richness. They can carry it, but I suspect they might
be even better picked just a bit earlier. But there’s no doubting
their quality, and they fit with the flavour profile that seems to
do so well with the domestic market here – and, of course, many of
the established US critics.
Long Shadows Dance Chardonnay 2013 Horse
Heaven Hills, Washington State
75% malolactic, 20% new
oak. Richly textured with pear and peach fruit. Nice depth here with
some spice and fig notes. Very rich but focused with nice depth and
Long Shadows Feather Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
14.4% alcohol. 22 months French oak,
90% new. Randy Dunn consults for this wine. Smooth, aromatic, pure
and seductive with blackcurrant and cherry fruit. Polished and
textured with exotic, silky mouthfeel and nice weight. There's still
some freshness here. 92/100
Long Shadows Feather 2008
and intense with lovely black fruits. Grainy, in a nice ripe style,
but has lovely detail. 92/100
Long Shadows Pirouette 2012 Washington State
A Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated Bordeaux blend. 14.9%
alcohol. Consultants here are Philippe Melka and Augustin Huneeus.
Sweet, ripe and richly aromatic with seductive black fruits on the
nose. The palate has sweet black fruits and a hint of saltiness.
Ripe and seductive. Plush and powerful. 91/100
Long Shadows Pirouette 2008
Sweet, textured and spicy with generous nicely defined black cherry
and blackberry fruit. Bold, with fine spiciness and nice texture.
Has some warmth. 91/100
Long Shadows Saggi 2012 Washington State
59% Sangiovese, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Syrah. 14.9% alcohol.
Consultants are Ambrigio and Giovanni Folonari. Fresh, sweet, vivid
and spicy. Tarry and intense with firm tannins. Grippy, dark and
dense with spicy intensity. Black fruits dominate. 91/100
Long Shadows Saggi 2008
Sweet, ripe and
powerful with lovely black fruits and a bit of spiciness. Smooth and
pure with black cherry and berry fruits plus a hint of chocolate.
Nice finesse here. Ripe and polished but with definition. 92/100
Long Shadows Chester Kidder 2011 Washington
Consultancy from Gilles Nicault. 65% Cabernet
Sauvignon, 28% Syrah and 7% Petit Verdot. Rich, chocolatey, spicy
and bold with fine spicy notes and sweet fruit. Tannic and
chocolatey with a warm liqueur-like core to it. 90/100
Long Shadows Chester Kidder 2008
rich, sweet, spicy, jammy nose. Some raspberry and a bit of coffee.
Rich with a bit of pepperiness and some cocoa notes. 90/100
Long Shadows Sequel 2012 Washington State
14.8% alcohol. This is made with John Duval, and it's 94%
Syrah and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich, silky and pure with soft,
clean, textured black cherry fruit. Lush and seamless. There's nice
depth to this wine, which is quite stylish in this ripe style.
Long Shadows Sequel 2008
and smooth with nice depth. A bit salty with silky black fruits.
Spicy, bold and intense. 92/100
Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot 2012 Washington
15.1% alcohol. Made with Michel Rolland as a
consultant. 22 months in French oak, of which 85% is new. Rich,
lush, smooth and seamless. A ripe, textured wine that's smooth,
sweet and polished with soft tannins and a slightly drying finish.
Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot 2008
Seductive, rich and smooth with a Port-like character.
Fine grained and polished with seductive fruit. 91/100
Long Shadows Poet's Leap Riesling 2014
Made with the help of Armin Diel. 12.9%
alcohol, pH 2,97, 12.5 g/l residual sugar. Textured, lively and pure
with smooth, rich citrus fruit and some pear. Finely spiced with a
bit of sweetness. Very fine. 93/100
WASHINGTON STATE WINES
du Cheval Vineyard
with Kevin Pogue
tasted as indicated
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com