There wasn’t a Rhône-inspired blend affiliated with Long Shadows Vintners until Gilles Nicault, director of winemaking for the star-studded Walla Walla Valley project, launched his own ultra-boutique Côté Nicault brand with the 2010 vintage. It’s a natural pursuit for Nicault, a graduate of the University of Avignon’s winemaking program, and he pulls from prized Red Heaven Vineyard for much of this GSM — Grenache (32%), Syrah (32%) and Mourvèdre (36%). An amphora was deployed for the Mourvèdre, while the Grenache spent time in 500-liter oak casks and the Syrah in a blend of more traditional new and used French oak barrels. Two years of bottle age set the table for an enticing aromatic profile of plum, blueberry and lavender that picks up light toast, allspice and chalkboard dust. The palate mirrors much of that array, and there’s a plushness on the entry, which transitions to elderberry liqueur and licorice. A late grip of fine-grained cherry skin tannins is joined by a finish of vanilla bourbon, making for a bold and slightly hedonistic farewell.
Rating: Outstanding! — 93 points
Production: 308 cases