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Long Shadows Sequel Syrah Columbia Vallley 2009
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Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar 93+ Points
(includes 1% cabernet sauvignon): Good bright, deep ruby. Complex, scented nose combines crushed rock, licorice, blackberry, smoked meat, black pepper and graphite. A bright, intense fruit bomb in the mouth, with dark berry flavors accented by cocoa powder, black pepper, dark chocolate and rosemary. Very clean and primary syrah with terrific depth. Finishes with a serious tannic spine for aging and subtle rocky character.
-Stephen Tanzer, Nov/Dec 2012
Wine Advocate 93 Points
The Long Shadows 2009 Sequel – a virtually pure Syrah, whose cuvee name was chosen as an allusion to winemaker John Duval’s legacy as long-time winemaker for Penfolds and its legendary Grange – was sourced largely from the 1992 Sagemoor Bacchus and 1994 Boushey plantings, among the oldest of their varietal in the state. Allen Shoup relates that when he approached Duval to head a Syrah project under the Long Shadows umbrella, the latter’s initial reluctance stemmed from the predominance of young vines among Washington’s Syrah plantings and, in particular, among those to which Shoup at the time had access. But Shoup persevered in ferreting-out small amounts of fruit from the aforementioned – and by Washington standards old – vines, and subsequently had some small acreage planted with Australian selections that came into production for this bottling. Chocolate, mocha and brown spice elements are prominent already in the nose, creating confectionary expectations that are, at most, only partly confirmed on an expansive, plush palate. Happily, there is primary dark berry juiciness along with hints of mint, black pepper, smoky black tea, and iodine to take this wine in a properly profound direction and offer counterpoint to its sense of sweetness. What’s more, there is a lovely sense of lift and energy to the finish that strike me as Washington-typical even though not especially evident in the current Long Shadows collection when taken as a whole. I suspect this Syrah will prove well worth following for a dozen years.
Allen Shoup’s vision and ambition for Long Shadows – not to mention his financial commitment (banks, he reports, only ever kicked-in 20% of the total investment) – was and remains audacious, and he has clearly lived up to the promise he made to each of the world-renowned vintners whom he invited to craft a wine from Washington State that no expenses would be spared in giving them whatever it was they wanted from Long Shadow’s facilities, as well in extended elevage and leisurely release dates. “They took me up on my word a lot more than I thought they would,” says Shoup with a laugh. Along the way, manifestly talented Gilles Nicault – hired-away from Woodward Canyon in 2003 with the idea that he would be the point man doing the bidding of his much more famous winemaking colleagues – became more of a consultant and confident to them as well as being assigned a label and project of his own under the Long Shadows umbrella; and in 2006 a huge and hugely impressive facility was completed west of Walla Walla to house this unique operation. The number of visits made by each winemaking luminary to taste and tend his project varies, but there is every indication that they all take their aesthetic capital in Long Shadows (in which each also has an ownership share) very seriously. All of the above granted, as inspiring as this project and the participation of such internationally famous talents is – and must be as well for the growers of Washington collectively – those veterans who have set this State’s qualitative benchmarks were not in need of a Long Shadows to learn how or be inspired to render distinctive world class Washington wine. Sources for these projects include the estate vineyard The Benches – formerly Wallula Vineyards, but still managed for the Long Shadows partners by its founders, the Den Hoeds – as well as selected blocks of Boushey, Candy Mountain, Conner Lee, Sagemoor, Stone Tree and Tapteil. I’ve included a few details about the approach behind each of the Long Shadows wines in my notes on their most recent releases below. “If somebody went through these wines and said it was quite clear that they exhibited a common Long Shadows thread,” explains Shoup, “I wouldn’t like that compliment, because what I want is that each of these wines has its own signature.” Generally speaking though, I find a common denominator of extremely sweet, ripe, confitured fruit and surface polish. It also strikes me that the money Shoup and company aren’t sparing on new wood makes for one of their most efficacious but also least well-considered expenses, since many Long Shadow reds are awfully obviously marked by their toasted oak. Incidentally, Shoup and Nicault indicated that with the exception of John Duval (and then only for occasional lots), none of the Long Shadows collaborators believes in adding tartaric acid to their musts.
-Issue # 202 - Aug 2012
Wine Spectator 92 Points
($50) Focused, plush and generous, with pomegranate-accented dark berry and tobacco flavors, striking a nice balance of suppleness, rich flavors and expansion on the finish. Drink now through 2018
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine 90 Points
Opaque and blue-ish purple in color, this is an expressive wine offering vibrant aromas of sweet dark fruits, grilled meats and freshly roasted chestnuts. Dark cherry flavors laced with notes of nutmeg and savory spice are framed by refined tannins and a delicate acidity that lingers on the finish.
Last Year's Vintage (2008)
Wine Enthusiast 95 Points
($50) Bursting with sweet toast from the barrel aging, this offers ripe and pretty berry fruit, deep and long, with highlights of oolong tea. The alcohol is not intrusive, and the acidity keeps it buoyed and lively.