WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Since launching Long Shadows Vintners in 2003, founder Allen Shoup and winemaker Gilles Nicault have kept fairly low profiles, preferring that their celebrity winemaking partners bask in the spotlight.
That is changing slightly, as Long Shadows is releasing two wines that bear the names of these two key men.
The Shoup Wine Estates 2007 is a classic red Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (25%), Petit Verdot (15%), Malbec (5%) and Cabernet Franc. It is now more than 6 years old, an age that gives the wine more complexity. Just 75 cases of 2007 Shoup were made.
The Côté Nicault 2010 GSM is a Southern Rhône-style red blend of Mourvèdre (35%), Syrah (35%) and Grenache using grapes from highly acclaimed StoneTree Vineyard on the warm Wahluke Slope. This red wine also serves as an homage to Nicault’s roots, as he was born in southern France, attended the University of Avignon in the Rhône Valley and worked in the Rhône and Provence. Just 173 cases of Côté Nicault were produced.
The wines are made in such tiny amounts, they will be available only to the Long Shadows Key Club. Shoup expects the wine club to be filled by the end of 2014, with a waiting list established after that.
Long Shadows Vintners built on international collaborations
Shoup built Long Shadows with the concept of bringing in some of the world’s best winemakers to work with Washington grapes. Such luminaries as Armin Diel of Germany (Poet’s Leap), Randy Dunn of Napa (Feather), John Duval of Australia (Sequel), Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari of Italy (Saggi), Agustin Huneeus of Chile and California with Philippe Melka (Pirouette) and Michel Rolland of Bordeaux (Pedestal) quickly joined Shoup’s team as partners in each of the Long Shadows brands.
The international collaboration was an idea Shoup started to great acclaim while he was CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, partnering with Piero Antinori of Italy for Col Solare and Ernst Loosen for Eroica. Shoup was with Ste. Michelle for 20 years, 17 of which he was at the helm. He retired from the company in 2000.
Shoup hired Nicault in 2003 as the managing winemaker, and the wines were made in downtown Walla Walla until a facility could be built just west of town.
One wine in the Long Shadows lineup that already was a collaboration of Shoup and Nicault is Chester-Kidder, a wine that honors Shoup’s grandfather Charles Chester and grandmother Maggie Kidder. It is a blend of Cab, Syrah and Petit Verdot and is considered a star in the Long Shadows collection, having recently been served to the president of France at a White House event.
Nicault and the Long Shadows partners use grapes from throughout the vast Columbia Valley, though they rely more and more on The Benches, a stunning vineyard in the eastern Horse Heaven Hills that was first planted in 1997 by the den Hoed family and was known as Wallula Vineyard. In 2008, Shoup put together an investor group to purchase control of the vineyard, which continues to be managed by the den Hoed family.