2008s from Long Shadows Nine Hats

Hello friends. I hope you all enjoyed the long weekend and are working through the beautiful obligation of Thanksgiving leftovers at a reasonable pace. Let’s kick off the run-up to the holidays with some new releases from Nine Hats.

The establishment, by Long Shadows, of their Nine Hats brand has been one of the more exciting developments of the year in Washington wine. We offered the first wine from this brand, a 2007 red blend, back in August, and many of you were eager to sample Gilles Nicault’s winemaking at a lower tariff.

Clearly, the introduction of Nine Hats has been a success, and now Long Shadows has released their first 2008s under the Nine Hats label: a Sangiovese and a Syrah. Astute followers of Washington wine will realize without much prodding that Nine Hats Sangiovese is mostly declassified Saggi barrels, and that Nine Hats Syrah is mostly declassified Sequel barrels.

Here’s how it works: the Folonaris fly in from Italy, and John Duvall flies in from Australia. They go through their barrels, and they select the very best lots of wine for Saggi and Sequel. In previous years, the remaining barrels were sold off through the bulk market. Now, they are given to managing winemaker Gilles Nicault to craft Nine Hats.

So, these lots come from the same vineyard sources that go into the top-end bottlings, but for stylistic reasons (e.g. a little bit of Boushey Syrah goes a long way), they’re held back. Gilles then blends as he sees fit (each of these two wines has seen some Cabernet blended in), and the wines are released while a bit younger than the Long Shadows wines. And they’re released, of course, at very competitive price points:

2008 Long Shadows “Nine Hats” Sangiovese

While Saggi is typically closer to an even split of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, this is Sangiovese-dominant and likely (based on Saggi sources) comes from some Horse Heaven Hills sites, along with Boushey and Candy Mountain Vineyards.

There’s good varietal character here: tart red fruit plays off more bitter notes of soil, leafy greens, and beets. This has a fine acid spine and, as with all of Gilles’ wines, conveys class and elegance.

2008 Long Shadows “Nine Hats” Syrah

Educated guessing here (based on the usual Sequel suspects) would indicate that this contains Syrah from one or more of The Benches (formerly Wallula), Alder Ridge, Boushey, and/or Bacchus Vineyards.

A knockout nose, combining bright blue fruit with peppered pancetta, rolls into a deep, dark palate, with streaks of tar and mineral lining the blue and black fruits. Many Washington Syrahs at this price point present big gobs of ripe fruit. Not so here. This shows restraint, and it’s awfully pretty for the price point.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “($25); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 18+/20pts.”

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