Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. – Cheers, Tyler
After days of non-stop rain and cold weather, it really has been feeling like winter in southern California lately. And when “the weather outside is frightful” nothing is more warming and satisfying than a nice glass of New World Syrah. Today we’ll be talking about three of them, each one from a personal favorite winery of mine, Leonesse Cellars in the Temecula Valley. In addition to an absolutely gorgeous location and tasting room, this winery specializes primarily in Rhone and Bordeaux varietals that capture that same charm in the glass.
We talked about Leonesse Cellars once before at the beginning of this month in “Super Stickies (Port Style Dessert Wines)”. That article featured their Cinsaut Port, which was so big and opulent that I had a hard time finding words to even describe it. Today we’re covering three Syrahs from three different segments in the Leonesse lineup. Our first is a “Cellar Selection” wine produced from Temecula Valley grown fruit. This is the winery’s main, and largest production segment. Our second comes from the exclusive “Signature Selection” label, which also uses a blend of the finest fruit from throughout the Temecula Valley. Our final wine, from the “Vineyard Selection” series, sources its fruit solely from a single vineyard in the Temecula Valley.
Wine #1: Leonesse Cellars 2007 Temecula Valley “Cellar Selection” Syrah
The nose of this wine is dominated by garrigue (kind of a catch all phrase used by wine tasters to describe the smell of herbs, sap, and scrub brush that you might find on a rolling hillside). It’s totally earthy, with a faint gaminess, tons of black pepper, and an almost rusty minerality. A little deeper investigation shows some red fruit and a bit of vanilla, creating a really multidimensional aroma.
Smooth and deep, red fruit preserves and buttered wheat toast introduce the palate. There is a faintly gamy, herbaceous flavor, and quite a bit of black pepper at the core. This wine is ripe and clean, with dusty tannins and a somewhat rural sense of place to it. It’s a decidedly earthy wine, but it shows some class as well.
Worth Trying. 87 points.
Wine #2: Leonesse Cellars 2007 Temecula Valley “Signature Selection” Syrah
The palate is creamy, rich, dense, and extremely full. Black pepper shows at first, immediately moving into blackberry preserves. Vanilla and spiced cream show at the mid plate, with fresh black raspberry and chocolate showing as it approaches the finish. This is a heavy profiled wine, with a ton of impact on the palate, yet its alcohol is nearly undetectable. The refinement of this wine is its most impressive characteristic right now, but its complexity is sure to really open up with a few years of age.
Worth Trying. 92 points.
Wine #3: Leonesse Cellars 2007 Temecula Valley “Vineyard Selection” “Vista del Monte Vineyard” Syrah
This wine’s aroma is startlingly complex, with deep chocolate tones matched just as strongly by floral tones. A strong piney quality shows throughout, with black raspberry, black plum, mocha cappuccino, and violets all making their presence known. Truly a beautiful bouquet.
Rich and spicy with fresh acidity at first sip, this massively structured wine shows the same depth and elegance on the palate that was hinted at on the nose. Fresh berries, raspberries and blackberries specifically, chocolate and mixed spices dominate. Plum, violets, and vanilla play supporting roles and the wine concludes beautifully on the finish with a seemingly endless swirling around of these flavors combined. Truly a gorgeous piece of viticultural art, this is without a doubt one of the Temecula Valley’s best Syrahs.
Worth Buying. 93 points.
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The Grapevine: What’s your favorite cold weather wine?