Specialty Club – April 2009

2005 Longshadows, Chester – Kidder, Columbia Valley Red Wine
By now, the Longshadows Vintners story should be familiar to most everyone: former Stimson Lane wine group CEO Allen Shoup invites winemakers from throughout the world to Walla Walla to produce limited releases of world class wines, reflecting their signature wine back home. It has been a remarkable and successful undertaking, and we’ve found that the wines just keep getting better with each vintage. The Chester–Kidder is Shoup’s personal project, named in honor of his grandfather, Charles Chester, and his grandmother, Maggie Kidder. To create his wine, Shoup selected Gilles Nicault, former winemaker at Woodward Canyon, who studied and trained in his native France before venturing to Washington in the mid 1990s to pursue winemaking here.

The 2005 Chester–Kidder is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Syrah, with a touch of Merlot blended in for softness and complexity, all sourced from some of the top vineyards in Washington. About half of the fruit comes from the Wahluke Slope, a region known for imparting great structure and density. Additional fruit from Yakima Valley contributes acidity and vibrancy to the wine, and Walla Walla fruit provides deep color and spice. The wine is loaded with rich, dark flavors, while retaining a lively vibrancy. 2005 was an ideal vintage in the Columbia Valley, and this wine clearly shows the beautiful balance, and intense, focused flavors such a vintage can produce. It will be at its best in two or three years and is still in good supply, at $49.75. Enjoy with roast beef or hearty fare.

2007 Domaine de la Mordorée, La Reine des Bois, Lirac Blanc
Domaine de la Mordorée is based in the town of Tavel, in the southern Rhône Valley, and also owns property in nearby Châteauneuf du Pape and in Lirac. Lirac is a relatively large appellation just west of Châteauneuf du Pape and spitting distance (wine, of course!) from Tavel. It is increasingly gaining a reputation for producing excellent wines, that can be more affordable alternatives to those from the neighboring Rhône appellations—especially in the hands of talented and dedicated producers such as brothers Christophe and Fabrice Delorme. They created Domaine de la Mordorée in 1986 with a goal of producing the best wines possible in each of their appellations, all with minimum impact on the environment. They practice sustainable agriculture and their label proudly depicts the woodcock (its local poetic nickname: Mordorée) which flies over their land during its migrations.

As for the wine, think of this white Lirac as a baby Châteauneuf du Pape. It is 30% Grenache Blanc (the white-berried form of Grenache Noir, which provides soft richness and body), with Viognier (adding great aromatics), Roussanne, Marsanne, Picpoul, Clairette and Bourboulenc. They are blended together into a sumptuous, full-bodied wine, with soft overtones of fruit and almonds, with a good, solid structure. A superb match for appetizers, chicken, seafood, or French country fare, it is ready to drink now, or could hold for up to three or four years. It is $45 and is extremely limited in this market so there may not be much more available.