Long Shadows’ Gilles Nicault relishes working with greats

By on June 12, 2014

Gilles Nicault, head winemaker for Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla, Wash., samples some of his work.

Gilles Nicault, head winemaker for Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla, Wash., samples some of his work. (Photo courtesy of Long Shadows Vintners)

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – It’s easy to be jealous of Gilles Nicault, head winemaker for Long Shadows Vintners.

First of all, he’s French – and, well, we’re not. That’s one cool accent that gives him a certain je ne sais quoi.

And then there’s the job. He makes wine for Allen Shoup, a visionary and former CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. And he gets to make wine alongside some of the world’s greatest winemakers, assembled together to create something great with Washington grapes.

Here’s our interview with Gilles in this week’s Great Northwest Winecast.

As the winemaker for Long Shadows, Gilles works in a beautiful facility surrounded by Chihuly glass (don’t worry, it’s kept pretty far away from his barrels), and he consorts with an amazing lineup of winemakers, including:

  • Agustin Huneeus Sr., founder of wineries in both California and Chile, and Philippe Melka, a fellow Frenchman who has made his mark on two continents. Together, they craft Pirouette, a blend that leads with Cabernet Sauvignon and contains the five classic Bordeaux varieties.
  • Randy Dunn, who has been making wine in Napa Valley since 1975. Together, they make Feather, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Armin Diel, one of Germany’s top Riesling producers and owner of Schlossgut Diel in the Nahe Valley. Together, they make Poet’s Leap (dry, ice and botrytis affected).
  • John Duval, only Australia’s most acclaimed winemaker because of his association with Penfolds Grange, one of the world’s most acclaimed red wines. He and Gilles make Sequel, a wine that is mostly Syrah with a dab of Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari, whose family has been making wine in Tuscany since the 1700s. This father-son team works with Gilles on Saggi, a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
  • Michel Rolland, famous in Bordeaux and beyond as the world’s foremost winemaking consultant. Together, they craft Pedestal, a wine heavy with Merlot but also containing Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.

In addition to all of this fun, Gilles crafts Chester-Kidder, a superb red blend, along with the newly released Shoup and Coté Nicault brands. He also makes the hugely popular Pinot Gris rosé called Julia’s Dazzle and a group of four wines under the label Nine Hats (to signify the winemaking partners in Long Shadows).

All in all, Long Shadows is an amazing story, and Gilles feels fortunate to be in the center of it all.

If you like what you hear, we would appreciate a quick review on iTunes.

Click here to go to find the Great Northwest Winecast on iTunes (for subscribing or reviewing).

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is the editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is a frequent judge at international wine competitions. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books. He writes about wine for The Seattle Times. You can find him on Twitter and .

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