Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Winery of the Year and Parker Points - Can it get any better?

Once again, Walla Walla is on the wine map. Food and Wine Magazine has awarded Winery of the Year to Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla. Once named as "the most beautiful winery that you will never see," this international collaboration of wine talent began four years ago by Allen Shoup, former CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. The profile of Long Shadows Vintners and their "Dream Team" will appear in the October 2007 issue and is part of the magazine's 10th annual American Wine Awards.

It is an impressive line-up of winemakers from all over the world who place their talent and individual labels under the Long Shadow's name: Armin Diel of Schlossgut-Diel Winery in Germany (Poet's Leap), Randy Dunn of Dunn Vineyards in Napa California (Feather), John Duval of formerly of Penfolds Grange in Australia (Sequel), Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari of A&G Folonari Tenute in Italy (Saggi), Agustin Huneeus and Philippe Melka both of Napa, CA (Pirouette) and Michel Rolland from Bordeaux (Pedestal). Gilles Nicault, who produces the Chester-Kidder label (Columbia Valley red blend) along with Shoup, is resident and managing winemaker. If you read my Sense of Place series, Nicault was our host during the tour of the Washington State appellations with a focus of the vineyards that supply grapes to Long Shadows Vintners. Through Gilles, we were able to see what he saw and felt - the love of terroir and how great wines start in the vineyard.

After I found out about the award, I went to my wine closet and lovingly held, hugged and stroked my bottles of Sequel, Feather, Pedestal, Chester-Kidder and Poets Leap. Good bottles...what good bottles they are.

But that's not all that is going on at the Long Shadows Vintners. One of their assistant winemakers divulged to me that famous Seattle glass artist, Dale Chihuly was at the winery with his team installing new blown glass light sculptures.

Also in the Walla Walla grape vine news, Dr. Jay Miller of Robert Parker's "The Wine Advocate" was in Walla Walla doing a bit of tasting. A total of 145 wines were reviewed. Thirty-Five Walla Walla wineries were given scores of 80 and above and 26 wineries received scores of 90 points and higher. And no surprises here, that Cayuse Vineyards earned multiple scores above 95, including two 99s. Leonetti Cellar was awarded a 95 and a 97. Congratulations!

These impressive wine scores will no doubt bring in the masses and the old "supply and demand" model could kick in. This is great news for the true wine aficionados as they will have an opportunity to have some of the finest Walla Walla wines in their collections and with pride and pleasure the Walla Walla wineries will be able to accommodate them. And then, as always, high scores will bring out the "cherry pickers." Ahh - - if you are in wine sales or ever been in wine sales - ya gotta love 'em. Cheers!

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