Ambrogio Folonari and his son Giovanni are the newest figures from outside the state to make wine in Washington as part of a group of joint ventures with Allen Shoup's new Long Shadows operation. Their first wine, a Sangiovese-based red, was made in 2005 and could be released next year.
On my visit to Washington last month, I looked in on Gilles Nicault, who makes the Long Shadows wines in a corner of the Bergevin Lane winery in Walla Walla. Nicault works with such high-profile winemakers as Michel Rolland, Randy Dunn, Philippe Melka and John Duval, all of whose debut wines in Washington I rated north of 90 points. There's the French consultant Rolland's lavish Pedestal Merlot, Californian Dunn's dense Feather Cabernet Sauvignon, Californian Melka's rich Pirouette and Australian Duval's Sequel Syrah. There is also a Riesling called Poet's Leap from German vintner Armin Diel.
As we tasted through 2005 barrel samples, I asked Nicault about a stack of barrels labeled "Italian." He demurred, acknowledging that they were an experiment. They were made with a "wine figure" from Italy as an experiment. If things worked out, it could lead to a sixth joint-venture wine. But he wouldn't let me taste it.
Shoup confirmed this week that the Tuscany-based Folonaris are the partners. Ambrogio was president of Ruffiino until the breakup of the company in 2000. As their part of the split, Ambrogio and Giovanni got Cabreo and Nozzole in the Chianti Classico area; Gracciano, in Montepulciano; Conti Spalletti, in Rufina; and 50 percent of Monte Rossa, in the Franciacorta area of northeast Italy. They started Campo al Mare, a Bolgheri estate. They also make La Fuga, a highly regarded Brunello di Montalcino. Now they have Washington in their lineup too.
So far, Long Shadows wines are made in limited quantities, less than 1,000 cases each so far. But Shoup is building a winery on the highway west of Walla Walla that could handle much larger quantities in the future.
Totv — La Quinta, CA — May 19, 2006 6:08pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — May 19, 2006 8:34pm ET
Mark Friedman — May 23, 2006 4:51am ET
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