Allen Shoup and Gilles Nicault of Long Shadows Consortium did it again.
Teamed with John Kaiser of Kaiser Vineyard at The Benches, perched high on a windy bluff in the Wallula/Columbia River area, this talented trio created a sophisticated Chardonnay sourced from The Benches estate fruit located in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.
This wasn't their first attempt, either. After five experimental vintages exploring other sites, it was this unique terroir (including a magnificent view), that gave this visionary team the character and complexity they were looking for in Chardonnay. I understand that the previous experimental vintages were shared with family and friends. Ahhh - - the benefits of wine experiments.
Keeping with tradition of this vibrant grape with strong French roots, yet often misunderstood, this elegant wine was fermented with Montrachet yeast and aged in French oak barrels from Burgundy, 50% new and 50% one-year old. After being aged for 11 months, the "cream of the crop" was reserved for the "Dance" Chardonnay label and a smaller quantity, but lighter in style, was used under the second Long Shadow's label, "Nine Hats."
Crisp and bright flavors of stone fruit, such as white peaches and apricots, also show off another layer of stone, but this time of minerals. No doubt these notes of minerals tell the story of the miles of basalt that line the great Columbia River at Wallula. A hint of candied citrus teases the tongue with a touch of creaminess, leading to a long finish. Rich. Complex. A dance on the palate.