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WTN: Kings of Leonetti

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WTN: Kings of Leonetti

by Jenise » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:50 pm

So last Friday night's neighborhood blind wine tasting was all about fancy schmancy WA red wines headlined by the most marquee name of all Washington reds: Leonetti. A must unusual event not only for content but for results: this crowd, who tend to like sweeter oakier wines, were not beguiled by the sweet, heavier, low-acid Andrew Will I thought they'd go for but gave 1st, 2nd and 3rd places to what were IMO the three most deserving wines. In first place? The Leonetti, particularly well deserved. (The points listed reflect the fact that each taster voted for 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and the points were awaded 3, 2 and 1 respectively.)

To prepare our palates, Bob and I drank big reds during the week prior, oh and I sunk a few Italians sitting up late with a friend whose soon to be ex is threatening suicide--more out of revenge than any actual loss of interest in living. Lousy reason of course, but such is the twit's love of vengeance that we can't rule out the possibility that she'd do it. Took three bottles to convince ourselves to call a suicide hotline. :) Those notes follow the tasting's wines.

2014 Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley
My natural distrust of high $$ trendy wines was completely disarmed by how much I loved this wine. In a six-wine blind tasting of Washington heavy hitters, the fruit and new FO spice was intoxicating, and the silky mouthfeel irresistable. Had been splash decanted about 36 hours earlier and left in bottle, sans cork, to breathe for the duration. 1st place, 93 pts.

2014 Upchurch Cabernet Sauvignon Upchurch Red Mountain
Fairly pure for a WA cab: 91% cabernet, with the rest merlot. Blackberry, sandalwood, and black pepper with sage and other complexities on the palate. More of an old school style without any rough edges reflecting Chris' own preferences for unmanipulated but elegant textures (Chris Upchurch is the winemaker at DeLille, it should be noted, and owner of the Upchurch vineyard that's part of the following wine). Was pretty excited about this, as I have six bottles of the probably-better '13 but had never tasted the wine. It's pretty hard to get--small producation and this is only his third commercial release. 2nd place, 80 pts.

2013 DeLille Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Four Flags Red Mountain
In a six-wine blind tasting of WA heavy hitters, this was my co-favorite with the Leonetti. Intense and complex, spicy and textured. It's just stunning. Note: this wine is a rarity in Washington: 100% cabernet sauvignon. It's from the four top vineyards on Red Mountain, WA's most coveted red grape appellation: Klipsun, Upchurch, Ciel du Cheval and Grand Ciel. Should be a 20 year wine. I haven't opened mine yet, but am delighted to have four bottles of this. 71 pts.

2013 Avennia Sestina Columbia Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
Black currant and dark chocolate, with plush sweet oak texture and a full-bodied frame. Modern in style, but built for aging. Drank well after a ten hour decant and even better the next day. Dunnick suggests it's a two-decade wine; don't agree, but it might go 15. 59 pts.

2012 Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain Red Bordeaux Blend
In a tasting where it's the only merlot-dominant (50%) wine in the lineup, and seeming babyfatty by being from a lower-acid vintage, it shows a lot of sweet weight with black currant and blueberry fruit, violets, and lead pencil. Splash decanted and left to breathe for about six hours prior to tasting. Definitely needs cellar time. 43 pts

2010 Cadence Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain Red Bordeaux Blend
Red fruited with some cab franc mint and other savory notes, plus prominent acidity. Splash decanted to remove very minor sediment and left open for three hours before serving. 27 pts

2012 Poggio La Noce “Gigiò” Toscana IGT SuperTuscan Blend
Stunning Italian wine for the price ($35, wholesale) from a really talented winemaker who deserves to be better known than he apparently is (only 13 other bottles owned on CT). Big fruit, good acidity, needs time to show as well as the '11 did a month ago, but no doubt it will catch up.

2008 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Nebbiolo
Fantastic when compared to February's light, cranberryish bottle. More body, more fruit, more color, more density, more everything. Definitely what I'd hope vs. vs. prior bottles.

2013 Peju Province Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Restaurant purchase (may have been passively stored IOW). Large, fruit forward with lasting tannins under black currant fruit. Some secondary development showed toward the end of the bottle. Am guessing it will peak early.

2013 Ross Andrew Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Red Mountain
Disagree with the most recent reviewer who called this a jammy fruitbomb. Didn't find either: just a promising full-bodied WA cab with plenty of structure and in need of more time. Will peg next bottle for 2019.

2014 Hierogram Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Block No. 8 Napa Valley
Medium bodied with bright flavors of boysenberry, red bell pepper and spice. Drinks more like Sonoma than Napa. Develops weight and some good herbal nuances as it spends time in the glass. Not a barn-burner, just a very good daily drinker as expected for the price, and I need some of those.

2012 Soos Creek Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain Red Bordeaux Blend
PnP. Open and ready; seductively silky fruit and spice, on the threshold of secondary development. Not sure I'd hold these for eight more years, best drinking will be the next four.

2006 Ridge Geyserville Sonoma County Zinfandel Blend, Zinfandel
Seemed very soft at first; this needs an hour or so of air time to firm up. Plummy fruit, iron-rich minerality, tannins fairly resolved. For my tastes, in prime drinking window. Should hold well here for a few years.

2009 Bugay Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon The Empress Sonoma County
PnP'd. Very primary with sturdy tannins and acidity; blackberry fruit, coffee, some savory green notes, tobacco, and graphite. Superb now with excellent potential for aging and secondary development.

2012 Mullan Road Cellars Red Wine Blend Columbia Valley
Could not help being mildly disappointed for comparing this mentally to the small slew of '13s we drank about six months ago. It lacks the juicy acidity of the other vintage. That said, it's nice: blackberry, licorice and some hints of leather notes to come. Should be fine thru 2020.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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David M. Bueker

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Re: WTN: Kings of Leonetti

by David M. Bueker » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:18 am

Interesting notes. Lots of good stuff there.

I have enjoyed most of the Leonetti wines I have tried int he past, though they have been few and far between.

Not shocked that your 2008 Produttori showed better than past bottles. That vintage shut down pretty much on release. Good to hear it's emerging.

A Kings of Leon reference...do you Followill them?
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Jim Grow

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Re: WTN: Kings of Leonetti

by Jim Grow » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:20 am

I don't recall ever seeing a wine score 27 pts! I hope my 2007 Cadence C du C scores much better than that and is at least drinkable. Is there a typo problem to your note?
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Re: WTN: Kings of Leonetti

by Mark S » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:20 am

The only Leonetti I ever had (late 80's vintage) I actually liked, so I can't subscribe to all the diatribes against it.
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Re: WTN: Kings of Leonetti

by Jenise » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:48 pm

Jim Grow wrote:I don't recall ever seeing a wine score 27 pts! I hope my 2007 Cadence C du C scores much better than that and is at least drinkable. Is there a typo problem to your note?


No typo. Those aren't points in the usual sense; but how I make sense out of 72 voters' opinions, and it's fairly commonly used in large groups. Each taster votes for their 1st, 2nd and 3rd place wines, and we alot 3, 2, and 1 pts respectively.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: Kings of Leonetti

by Jenise » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:57 pm

Mark S wrote:The only Leonetti I ever had (late 80's vintage) I actually liked, so I can't subscribe to all the diatribes against it.


I've only had a few Leonetti's myself. And some were very, very good but until this tasting I had somehow missed the rapture experience that would explain the wine's status. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I thought of it as Washington's Silver Oak. But this? Whether or not you can do better for $120 (local Bellingham price, I note a quick view of Wine-Searcher indicates that the wine often sells for more in-state than outside, for instance Hi Times in Costa Mesa, CA has it for the relatively bargain price of $91) is another issue, but damn, this wine really is special.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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