Allen Shoup named this wine in honor of his grandfather, Charles Chester, and his grandmother, Maggie Kidder. He selected Long Shadows' director of winemaking and viticulture, Gilles Nicault, to craft this New World blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and other classic Bordeaux varieties.
An early bud break followed by dry, warm weather throughout spring marked the start of the 2013 vintage before rainfall moved across the Columbia Valley in mid-June. The precipitation allowed the vines to establish a substantial canopy that proved useful when summer temperatures climbed. With a protective exterior canopy, growers were able to open up the interior canopy to allow uniform ripening in the fruit zones so that when terperatures cooled in the fall, grapes enjoyed extended hang time that allowed flavors to fully mature.
Select, handpicked Cabernet Sauvignon lots underwent an extended maceration of up to 40 days to yield tannins that stand up to 30 months of barrel aging, becoming supple and refined over the last 10 months in barrels. The extra time in barrel helps integrate the fruit and enhances the mid-palate, and the selection of tight-grained all French oak barrels (85% new) adds an appealing earthiness and a hint of graphite that enhances the wine’s layered complexity.
The 2013 Chester-Kidder is a deep, opaque wine offering generous black fruit aromas and flavors with hints of dried herbs and graphite. Smooth on entry, with polished tannins and layers of ripe fig, dark cherry and sweet spice across the palate. This is a wine of great intensity and balance.
92 POINTS - STEPHEN TANZER
Roughly half the grapes used in the 2013 Chester-Kidder were grown at StoneTree and Weinbau Vineyards, two exceptional Wahluke Slope sites that bring refined tannins and layers of fruit and fresh fig flavors to the finished wine. Another one-third of the grapes were grown at Candy Mountain Vineyard, a warm site adjacent to Red Mountain that gives this wine its dark fruit flavors and beautiful intensity. Walla Walla Valley’s Summit View Vineyard rounds out the reminder of the blend, contributing to the wine’s smooth, rich texture.
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.