Wine Talk

Snooth User: JenniferT

Long Shadows wine makers dinner!!

Posted by JenniferT, Jan 23.

Good news! I've been invited to my first wine makers dinner! Needless to say, I'm excited about the opportunity. The dinner is going to be with Gilles Nicault from Long Shadows next week.

Naturally I'll be doing my homework in advance to learn what I can and think about good questions I'd like to ask. I know that Long Shadows has been discussed here at Smooth several times before.....I'd like any related insight/info you guys might have. I'm planning on asking him as much as possible without crossing the line into harassment, lol! 

Also, I'd be happy to ask him any of your questions too, on our collective behalf. I can post the answers and/or report about the dinner back here. 

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Reply by JonDerry, Jan 23.

Good to hear Jenn, should be a lot of fun. I'm not sure I have many questions other than how they go about choosing the winemakers/land for all the various projects...would just listen to what I have to say and see if they were leaving anything out.

Enjoy the wines, they should be very nice. I have the '09 and '10 Feather ( by Randy Dunn) in my cellar, but haven't tasted anything yet. Actually, come to think...it did cross my mind how Randy manages that project with all that he has going on in Napa. Does he rely on different harvest times? The challenges for a winemaker to be in two places at once...perhaps he relies on his son/daughter for a portion of the Napa wines more and more these days.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 23.

I think Dunn's son is more involved in the eponymous winery, as well as having his own projects.  Dunn doesn't have to be there for the picking, necessarily--lots of winemakers contract for grapes that come from pretty far away and can't be everywhere at once.  Harder thing is that the crushing, etc, all goes on farther away, but I'm sure he has daily communication at least with the LS folks.  Derenoncourt has winemaking going on in Lake County and France, so it's just a question of how hands-on you have to be to be called the "wine maker." 

I think the whole LS idea is pretty radical.  I'd be interested to know what their criteria for bringing on these winemakers is, and whether they'll be adding more, who they might be, and how much they think they can expand the concept.  Also interested to know what elements the winemakers control--complete?  Cooperage/yeast/vineyards/blocks?  Could Dunn make, say, a Torrontes or something else way outside his wheelhouse?  Do they get turned down by folks who worry it will cannibalize their sales?

Jenn, we have to get you down here for a trip--winemaker dinners are pretty frequent and sometimes happen at our own houses!

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Reply by JonDerry, Jan 23.

That's pretty much it Fox, what's the minimum requirement/involvement to be considered "the winemaker" in general, and what are the standards for the LS project?

 

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Jan 24.

You will have a great time!  I have met Gilles once.  He is very nice  I'm sure he will be happy to answer any question you have.  He oversees all the LS wine making and is the wine maker for the Chester Kidder.  I have tasted most of the LS wines and they have all been real nice.

As a side note, Gilles' wife is also an excellent wine maker.  Marie-Eve's label is Forgeron Cellars. 

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Reply by Sduquality Wines, Jan 24.

good to hear that jenn after dinner share your good times with us..

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Reply by gregt, Jan 24.

Jenn - it should be fun. They have a bunch of great winemakers - John Duval, Dunn, Michel Rolland, Philippe Melka, Agustin Huneeus, etc.  All of the wines are good, some really good, but I think the Riesling is the weakest. I have a number of them and have taken a few to Europe to share with folks who don't know Washington wines. In fact, we will be drinking a Chester Kidder tonight.

When Shoup was at Chat St. Michelle, he developed relationships with some of the winemakers and I think it's a really great idea that he had to undertake the project and have these winemakers work with grapes that they know in an enviornment that's new to them. The interesting thing is, you can kind of tell their signature styles. Duval's wine might be my favorite but as I said, I like them all. Rolland's is very plush and round, as you would expect, Dunn's is a bit more structured, the C-K is even more so, which I find really interesting as I wouldn't have expected that from the varietal blend.

I wouldn't worry too much about getting any formal list of questions together because that can become a bit stilted and weird. I would suggest that you just ask what comes up naturally, although I would be interested in knowing whether they have plans for any other grapes, for example Tempranillo, which is getting increased attention in the US. Seven Hills used to make a pretty good one but they stopped a few years ago. I could even recommend some winemakers who might be interested!

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Reply by JonDerry, Jan 24.

Thanks for mentioning the John Duval, I'll have to try that...at least the '09 I can source locally.

Agree about the questions, was my first thought anyway.

Would also love to see them take a stab at Tempranillo.

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Jan 24.

I'm on the Tempranillo band wagon too.  Here are a few winemakers/wineries that are doing good things with Washington Tempranillo:

Doug McCrea is making some nice Spanish inspired wines with his Salida label.  So is Javier Alfonso with his labels Pomum and Idillco.  I would also recommend Kerloo and Fall Line (the Tempranillo is a big departure from Tim's usual BDX inspired reds).

I think it would be really interesting to see what a Spanish wine maker could do with our Washington grapes.

Looking forward to your report from the dinner.

Cheers!

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Reply by dvogler, Jan 25.

I'm jealous!  I have several Longshadows (Pedestal, Sequel and Pirouette).

I haven't had any of them yet, but my mouth waters every time I look at them!

I'll be at the Taste Washington wine event in Seattle March 29th.  They'll be there along with

far too many others, but hopefully I'll be able to try some I don't have yet.

Have fun Jennifer.

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Reply by JenniferT, Jan 26.

Thanks, everyone! I'm not sure how much the winemaker will want to talk, or how much opportunity I'll actually have to talk to him....but I'll see what I can find out about the LS project and related criteria. I'll mention the inquiries about Tempranillo as well if I get a chance to do so. 

Regardless, I'll be sure to report back next weekend on what I find out!

I'm expecting that they'll be pouring Poet's Leap Riesling (2012), Chester-Kidder Red Blend (2009), Pedestal Merlot (2008), Saggi Cellars red blend (2009), and Nine Hats Syrah (2008). 

Of these, I've only ever had the Pedestal merlot before. I'm quite looking forward to the dinner. 

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Reply by dvogler, Jan 30.

Jennifer,

I guess you're coming to Victoria!  I was out for a glass of wine with a friend tonight and he told me that the Longshadows dinner is at the Grand Pacific!  I am already booked for the Taste Washington wine event in Seattle in March (costly weekend for me!) or I'd get a ticket and go tomorrow night.  How long are you in town for?

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Reply by JenniferT, Jan 30.

Right you are! I think the dinner pretty much sold out right away, but I'm not 100% sure. Tickets are a reasonable 125.00. You could always call the hotel to see if you can still get a ticket. No harm in asking!!

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Reply by JenniferT, Feb 5.

Well, this is clearly overdue....but here we go.

DISCLAIMER: This will be much more short-winded than I would have posted otherwise - I had tried to discreetly scrawl down a few notes on the back of a programme..but these notes got picked up by someone else, thinking it was their programme. The notes were limited (very limited) in scope anyway. But I'm not going to go into the wines in detail, because I really didn't take tasting notes and most senior citizens have a better memory than I do.

First the format of the dinner was actually somewhat formal (more so than I expected), with assigned seating and the like. Not much opportunity for note taking, apparently my favourite thing in the world! I did scrawl down a few things, and I'll try to relay as much as possible.  

However structured the dinner was, Gilles was indeed awesome - very casual, genuine, and unassuming. This was my first winemakers dinner, and, while I thought we showed up early (because we did)....in reality we showed up late relative to a commonly understood, yet secret, "real" time. Consequently, we were amongst the last to arrive and I missed most of the reception. (Is that normal? I think this may be a symptom of being in Victoria, where restaurants fill with diners at like 5pm. Ugh.) But I digress.

We started on the first course shortly after I arrived. ABALONE! (I use caps because I've never had the chance to have abalone before). The course was delicate yet substantial...served in a very light lemongrass and crab broth. It was paired with the Poet's Leap Riesling. (Personally, taken on its own...the riesling seemed the weakest offering amongst the wines poured...while I liked it enough, it was my least favourite). HOWEVER, as a pairing it was just BEAUTIFUL. One of the best pairings I've ever had.

Later the Chester Kidder (2009) was poured (paired with squab), and Gilles spoke for awhile about it. It gets 30 months in French (surprise!) oak (new, I think). Gilles spoke in passing about how the character of the wine changes with the time in oak. He said the fruit develops first (strawberry, etc) but the other more complex elements (like graphite) develop from about the 18 month mark onward. (Bear in mind that I am paraphrasing). However both myself and my handsome dining companion (Mr. T! Let's roll with that!) got pencil shavings on the nose of this wine, which is an interesting coincidence.

Next came the famed Pedestal Merlot (2008) + braised veal breast. I thought the wine was very good...but not as good as the other reds that were poured. Please refrain from sending me hate mail, lol! Maybe it would benefit from more time in bottle? Maybe it's just not so much my thing. 

The last two reds were the 2007 Saggi (paired with Boar ragu) and the 2008 Nine Hats Syrah  (paired with elk striploin). These were our two favourite wines of the night. Gilles seemed to imply that the Saggi was a more casual or "less" of a wine than the other reds. But I thought it was just lovely and very impressive. Very fruit forward yet also complex and savoury. It was a favourite.

The Syrah was the most impressive wine of the evening, to us anyway. I like wine that has a lot of layers, or a lot of things to say. This Syrah certainly fits the bill, and it is a beautiful wine. 

Last came some petit fours to round out all that meat. And a quick chance for some chit chat with Gilles (finally!). It was lovely to talk to him, honestly. I didn't have time to ask him all the things I ordinarily might have. I did ask him about the Longshadows project (which he has been with since its inception, and just loves) and his involvement. (He said he oversees everything - vineyards, cooperage, all of it).

He gave me his card and suggested that we come and visit when we return to Walla Walla (and to think, in my youthful ignorance, how I first went there when I noticed the name on a map....for the name alone. But, seriously, what an awesome town name!)

I'm actually planning on taking him up on his offer, hopefully sometime this spring, lol! So maybe I'll have more interesting things to report then. But that's all for now, unfortunately.

Suffice to say, my first winemaker dinner was just a wonderful experience. Thanks for all your comments and interest.  

  

 

 

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Reply by JenniferT, Feb 5.

Finally, last but not least - they do some great food down there at the Grand Pacific Hotel, especially in The Mark. My understanding is that The Mark is closing soon, and they are just keeping the main restaurant. 

I'd advise anyone make a point of getting down to enjoy the honestly spectacular food they do for The Mark soon. The service, which I should have also mentioned before, was just excellent. You just don't see that enough these days. 

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Reply by JenniferT, Feb 5.

In retrospect, I guess that wasn't so short winded at all! Sorry, I'm a bit of a rambler. 

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Reply by gregt, Feb 5.

Well Jen you came up with a couple of wines I haven't had. And elk! How perfect.

My wife also loves the Chester Kidder. Got her a case because she's not usually that enthusiastic. You should definitely take him up on his offer to visit if you have the opportunity. And the fact that you didn't write lengthy tasting notes is a good thing IMHO. They don't mean a lot to most people and they're far less interesting than your impressions and what you actually did write. Good job!

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Reply by JenniferT, Feb 5.

Thanks! Hope it wasn't too hard to read or follow.

I think I'll refer to my other half as Mr.T. from here on in. (Now I can say lots of fun things...like "I'm bringing along Mr. T. for dinner at your house!") 

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Reply by dvogler, Feb 6.

 

Great report!  I definitely think the Pedestal can go easily five more years, in fact, it's recommended.  I have the Sequel too and am glad to hear you loved it. 

That Mr. T comment is a harbinger of sorts!

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Reply by EMark, Feb 6.

Wow, that sounds like it was an terrific event, Jennifer.  

Since I am not that knowledgeable, I had to resort to Mr Google to fill in some blanks for myself.  Specifically, I learned that the Saggi is a Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend (and I'll bet that would have been my favorite, also) and the Chester Kidder is a Bordeaux blend that probably could have carried the "Meritage" tag if they'd been so inclined.  As an aside, it seems that the "Meritage" nomenclature has failed to catch on.

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Reply by JenniferT, Feb 6.

I probably should have included that info - sorry, emark!  

Interesting note about the Chester Kidder! I really don't know much about Meritage at all. (Mr. Google just told me that "meritage: is actually a registered US trademark for which wineries must pay to use on their labelling!)

I haven't seen much wine around labelled as such. However I have definitely noticed some BC Meritage around, although I haven't yet had any.  

 

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