Allen Shoup named this wine in honor of his grandfather, Charles Chester, and his grandmother, Maggie Kidder. He has a purpose in mind; a vision really, and that is to make a wine that says, "this is how good Washington wine can be." Allen selected Gilles Nicault, former winemaker for Woodward Canyon, to bring the vision to fruition.
An unusually cool spring in 2009 resulted in a slow start to the growing season, but by June the weather warmed considerably and ideal growing conditions persisted through September. A near perfect summer and lower than average yields caused the grapes to ripen quickly and evenly sparking one of the earliest and fastest harvests on record and yielding wine with deep color and exceptional concentration.
Black cherry and cocoa aromas compliment vibrant flavors of blackberry, licorice and cassis. Hints of graphite and a subtle earthiness provide layers of complexity. With its firm structure and polished tannins, the velvety texture glides easily across a lengthy finish.
92 POINTS - WINE ADVOCATE
SERVED AT THE WHITE HOUSE STATE DINNER, FEB. 2014
Located just above Red Mountain, Candy Mountain is one of the warmest vineyards in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon ripens beautifully here and gives the wine its backbone and richness. Candy Mountain Syrah adds deep color and brings black cherry and cassis to the wine. The remaining Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Dionysus Vineyard, which provides structure and brings firm tannins to the wine that allow for long-term aging. Petit Verdot from Stone Tree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope imparts dense, rich character and adds a lively mouth feel. Cabernet Franc from Weinbau Vineyard, also on the Wahluke Slope, adds an earthy note and just the right touch of Old World elegance.
Gilles Nicault has served as director of winemaking and viticulture since Long Shadows inception in 2003. As resident winemaker overseeing daily operations at Long Shadows' state-of-the-art winery in Walla Walla, Gilles works with a group of celebrated vintners from around the globe. It is his job to ensure that each winemaker's vision is realized in the vineyard and the cellar.
While many winemakers would find this proposition a daunting task, French-born Nicault describes the position as his "dream job." Those who know Gilles best say it is his insatiable curiosity and desire to learn something new every day as well as his winemaking skills that make him uniquely qualified for the position. In addition to executing daily operations at the winery, Gilles is the winemaker for Long Shadows' acclaimed Chester-Kidder, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah blend that carries his signature.
Gilles grew up in southern France and graduated from the University of Avignon with a degree in Viticulture and Enology. He honed his craft in the fabled hillside vineyards and wineries of Cotes Du Rhone, Provence and Champagne. On 1994, already a vintner of rising fame in his homeland, Gilles traveled to Washington State to expand his winemaking skills.
Impressed by Washtington State's vineyards and the opportunity to be part of a growing wine community, he stayed in the Columbia Valley, working for Staton Hills and Hogue Cellars before joining Woodward Canyon in 1996, where he stayed until moving to Long Shadows in June 2003. Sharing Woodward Canyon's passion for world-class wine, Gilles soon found Woodward Canyon's founder Rick Small was his ideal mentor and biggest champion. In 1999, Woodward Canyon named Gilles head of enology and production.
Gilles is married to winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla of Forgeron Cellars, also an acclaimed winemaker. The couple wilves in Walla Walla with their two children.