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longshadows pirouetteLong Shadows  is a great idea. Build a state of the art facility, source from the finest vineyards in Washington State, and hire famous winemakers to make your wine. Sounds like a can’t miss formula. But winemaking isn’t about formulas and even at the high-end level it can be a mysterious business. This Bordeaux-style blend doesn’t quite work. It’s not a bad wine; it just doesn’t meet expectations based on the reputation of the winemakers (Philippe Melka and Augustin Hunneeus) and price.

Deep, rich, concentrated blackberry jam and chocolate aromas are promising but a layer of cedar isn’t quite integrated yet and there are puzzling green bell pepper notes that you seldom find in expensive Cabernet made from grapes this ripe. The alcohol on the nose is distracting and a harbinger of things to come.  On the palate, the fresh fig flavors upfront are nice and the tannins are firm with plenty of backbone. But a mid-palate burst of bitter 85% baker’s chocolate that carries through the long finish mars the experience. If I want bitter I’ll look to the subtle bitter herbal flavors of Valpolicella that add to the feeling of rusticity—I don’ expect in-your-face rustic in a $60 Meritage. It just seems like the alcohol is increasingly revealed as the wine evolves in the mouth. In short, the Pirouette lacks balance and integration. I suspect it will become more integrated with age. I would lay this down for 3-5 years to see if it comes together. But—perhaps this wine is ahead of its time in more ways than one (see the music recommendation below)

Made from 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc primarily from Red Mountain and Wahluke Slope and spends 22 months in 75% new French Oak.

Longshadows is an intriguing winery. Founded by legendary Washington wine pioneer Allen Shoup, he hires internationally-acclaimed winemakers as partners in the production of their lineup. I’m hoping this is a one-off misfire.

Score: 88

Price: 60

Alc: 14.9%

We’ve learned to enjoy dissonance in our music; will we come to find dissonant wines pleasing?

Here’s the master of dissonance Arnold Schönberg’s “Verklärte Nacht”. This wine actually becomes more intelligible with such accompaniment.