90 Points RP
The Long Shadows 2008 Chester-Kidder is the latest installment of winemaker Gilles Nicault’s personal project (named ,however, for two ancestors of Allen Shoup). A blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Syrah, 6% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc, it fermented with limited pump-overs and forced air cap contact but no punch-downs (the danger with this fruit – particularly Syrah from Candy Mountain, allegedly Washington’s warmest site – is over-extraction, notes Nicault), and spent an amazingly long 30 months in nearly all new barrels (albeit, per Nicault, of “the more delicate sorts”), an approach its author thinks apt for the marriage of Syrah with Bordelais cepages. Polished, even creamy in texture, with its tannins totally tenderized, as is the case with most Long Shadows wines, this also displays seamlessness in terms of its interfacing of varieties – or at least, I can’t pull out many characteristics specific to any one of them. Jellied cassis, dark cherry, and blueberry mingle with milk chocolate, caramel, and vanilla, meaty or mineral tones being largely absent or sublimated ,but a faintly bitter herbal note is, perhaps, a contribution of the Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, while a suggestion of black pepper in the finish is surely traceable to Syrah. The most striking thing about this wine beyond its sweet sense of richness and its polished texture is a welcome sense of buoyancy. Nicault envisions it being a 15-year-keeper, which may well be accurate, though I can’t say I envision how it might evolve over such a lengthy period. It would, however, be nice – and far from improbable – if more nuance emerged over the next several years.