Poet's Leap Riesling (375ML half-bottle) 2010
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
We are not at all surprised that the two top performers in our brief Poet’s Leap retrospective are those that have had extra time in which to evolve, and both this wine and its companion from 2008 are lovely examples of what serious, well-aged Rieslings can offer. Fairly intense yet showing great detail and graced with a touch of petrol on the nose as older examples are wont, this one offers a good deal of palatal richness in flavor and feel alike with a layered mix of peaches, orange rind, grapefruit and stones that hangs on and on at the finish. Ten years have seen it grow and evolve wonderfully, but there is nary so much as a hint of impending old age in evidence and, if we would not go so far as to guarantee that is has another decade of life ahead, neither would we be all that surprised if it does.
Inspired by the great wines of Germany and winemaker Armin Diel, proprietor of the renowned Schlossgut Diel. Each vintage of Poet’s Leap uses small lots of hand-harvested grapes that are carefully sorted, whole cluster pressed and then fermented at cool temperatures in stainless steel tanks to capture the grapes’ bright fruit character.
Poet’s Leap is one of nine distinct wines from Long Shadows Vintners - a collection of ultra-premium wines, each built on the unique expertise of some of the world’s most knowledgeable winemakers to showcase the quality and caliber of Washington State’s Columbia Valley.
Since the beginning, Long Shadows' Director of Winemaking and Viticulture Gilles Nicault, has overseen the operations of the winery and worked closely with the vintners to bring each winemaker’s vision to completion. Internationally renowned winemakers Randy Dunn (Feather Cabernet Sauvignon); John Duval (Sequel Syrah); Philippe Melka (Pirouette Red Wine); and Michel Rolland (Pedestal Merlot) are active partners in their respective wines. Gilles now crafts Poet’s Leap Riesling and Saggi, a Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, in styles that remain true to their original winemakers, Armin Diel and Giovanni Folonari respectively. Gilles crafts Chester-Kidder, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend, independently.
Gilles works closely with the state’s top growers to execute a diverse winemaking protocol at Long Shadows’ state-of-the-art facility in Walla Walla to produce wines of exceptional quality, true to the Columbia Valley’s terroir.
A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon!
Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.
Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.
Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, this versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Somm Secret—Given how difficult it is to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling from the label, here are some clues to find the dry ones. First, look for the world “trocken.” (“Halbtrocken” or “feinherb” mean off-dry.) Also a higher abv usually indicates a drier Riesling.