About the Wine
What’s Michel Rolland—one of the most famous winemakers in Bordeaux, in the world—doing in Washington’s Columbia Valley? Consulting and making Merlot for Long Shadows.
The project of wine visionary Allen Shoup, Long Shadows produces ultra-premium wines. Each of those wines gets nurtured by its own exceptional international winemaker. Collectively they produce some of Washington’s most acclaimed wines.
Long Shadow’s Pedestal Merlot hit the jackpot with its winemaker who's consulted with hundreds of wineries all over the world including Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate in Napa and about 80 different Bordeaux estates. He knows what grapes grow exceptionally well in each region he works. In Washington, Rolland knows how good Merlot can get.
"In Washington, I am dedicated to Merlot,” he says. “As always and ever, the philosophy is not to adapt to one place, but to the grapes Mother Nature gives us, year after year."
He takes those grapes Mother Nature gives him—predominantly grown on the Wahluke Slope, a warm area of the Columbia Valley that produces Merlot with layers of fresh, dark fruit and beautiful aromatics—and blends them with a bit of Cabernet to add backbone and a smidgen of Malbec for concentration and violet aromatics.
The result is a limited production Merlot like little else coming out of the region. It’s concentrated, layered, and beautifully complex. That’s no surprise given the skill of the winemaker and the highly memorable 2018 vintage in Washington, which Decanter says was “an unabashed success for Washington red wines.”
Aging: 22 months in Sylvain and Millet French oak barrels (85% new), two top-quality coopers next to Michel Rolland’s hometown of Saint-Émilion.
Tasting Notes: 82% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Malbec. Aromas of dark fruits, blueberry, blackberry, and black cherry, plus a bit of tobacco and coffee. The fruits carry over on the palate accompanied by spices and a peppery note. It’s big, lush, and complex with a satisfying, long finish.
An utterly spectacular showing from this exciting vintage. 82% Merlot with the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, this revels in its Turkish coffee aromas with sandalwood, dark currants, chocolate fudge, and blueberry compote rounding out the bouquet. This presents a hedonistic bent with an intense mouthfeel and glorious length. Unabashedly big, the acidity and firm tannins hold this gorgeous core of blue and dark fruits in place. Drinking Window: 2021 - 2040. ~96 Decanter
Long Shadows has crafted a beautiful new Right Bank style 2018 Merlot Pedestal, which is nearly all Merlot (82%) with smaller portions of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Once on the nose, this shows an intoxicating bouquet of black currant jelly, espresso bean, and shades of black licorice candy. The mouthfeel captured here is exquisite as the Merlot seamlessly glides across the mid-palate delivering a decadent core of dark fruits, black licorice, black peppercorn, and espresso ground tones. Finishing very long, this is already a beautifully evolved wine that will improve with an hour in the decanter. Drinking Window: 2022 - 2040. ~96 Vinous Media
The 2018 Merlot Pedestal checks in as 82% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Malbec that was raised, I suspect, in plenty of new oak. It's another great vintage from this cuvée, which has the final blend put together by Michel Rolland. Offering a wonderfully pure, perfumed nose of black and blue fruits, chocolate, leafy herbs, and flowers, these all carry over to the palate, where the wine is medium to full-bodied and has a seamless texture and a great finish. I’d be happy to drink a bottle any time over the coming 15 years. ~95 Jeb Dunnuck
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