For our summer Mondiale we looked to the state of Washington and a project of wine pioneer Allen Shoup. While at Chateau Ste. Michelle he initiated joint ventures with Piero Antinori and Dr. Ernst Loosen to produce Col Solare and Eroica to critical acclaim. His latest program ventures further with a larger group of renowned winemakers to bring out the best in Columbia Valley grapes using their styles and experience. This endeavor is named Long Shadows and has produced seven wines which were the subjects of our event. We gathered at the recently opened Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar in the Covington Main Strasse area and naturally started with the white wine of the night, Poet’s Leap Riesling. Armin Diel, with an estate in the Nahe, made an elegant smooth balanced bottling with characteristic subtle acidity and citrus notes. We enjoyed this with several appetizers and artisan cheeses before sampling the more serious reds.
First among our red wines was Saggi, a “Super Tuscan” blend with a predominance of Sangiovese along with Cabernet and Syrah. Father and son Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari have produced a wine with both soft rich fruit and a thick substantial finish complemented by hints of spicy oak. Next came Shoup’s own Chester-Kidder, named after his grandparent’s families. Blended with three Bordeaux varietals and Syrah, this started with a nose of smoke and licorice and had a deep fruit front that segued to a lean alcohol prominent quality and a finish that tempted one for another sip.
John Duval gained his reputation with fifteen vintages of Penfold’s Grange and his wine, Sequel, alluded to that most famous of Australian wines. Made from Syrah with a hint of Cabernet, this had aromas of roasted meat and floral fruits and was extremely restrained to the point of sulking, almost trying to burst out in the finish. By contrast, Pedestal by superstar vintner consultant Michel Rolland was a home run Merlot based blend that started with a nose of bright fruit and slight glue, had great balance with flavors of fruit, oak, coffee, and bitter chocolate, and possessed a body light yet profound. This salute to right bank Bordeaux was a terrific effort and seemed capable of aging as well.
Pirouette is the work of Agustin Huneeus Sr. and Philippe Melka who have each been involved in a kalidoscope of vineyards and labels but most recently run Quintessa and Melka. Using a blend of four Bordeaux varietals with a healthy dollop of Syrah, they produced a wine of great complexity, starting with aromas of glue, fruit, cedar and more. Flavors of fruit matched by roasted meat and marrow wound its way to a very tannic yet accessible finish. Last of our bottlings shown was Feather by the uncompromising Randy Dunn, who is famous for his long lived Cabernets. This was the only all Cabernet wine and was very slow to develop in the glass, starting with hints of earth and fruit in the nose that grew to spice, oak, and dark chocolate given some time. Tastes began fairly lean and gained substance in mid-palate to finish with a prominence of fruit. This wine particularly benefited to have food along side.
This was a fascinating experiment to observe the varied manifestations from different winemakers working under the same roof, but the overall impression was that, except for the Poet’s Leap, all of these wines would benefit from age and, in the case of Sequel and Feather, long term cellaring. Our buffet by Chef/Owner Stephan Williams that followed made these young wines much more enjoyable to imagine these achievements as they seek their pinnacle.
J.T. Mayer, Vice Chargé de Presse