2018 Leo Steen Jurassic Park Vineyard Chenin Blanc

2018 Leo Steen Jurassic Park Vineyard Chenin Blanc

¥5,720 (incl. tax)

Named for the dinosaur fossils discovered nearby, this vineyard in the hills above the Santa Ynez Valley features well-drained, limestone and sandy soils that stress the Chenin Blanc vines just enough to produce small grape clusters with concentrated flavors. These soils as well as the arid climate allowed the vines to be planted on their own roots rather than grafted, which is standard practice as protection from root louses. Though somewhat risky, own-rooted vines are heartier and require less irrigation. 2018 was an exceptional vintage, with a wet spring followed by a mild summer that allowed the grapes to mature slowly without heat stress. Proclaiming Jurassic Park Chenin Blanc “one of the best versions of this grape made in California,” Esther Mobley of the San Francisco Chronicle said it “exemplifies the wonderful tension that Chenin Blanc can achieve: fruitiness and bitterness, richness and sharpness, all at once.” This is a wine that seduces with it lovely texture, fresh minerality, and exotic fruit.

Winery


Winery Description

Located in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, Leo Steen Wines is a 1,000 case winery owned by Leo Steen Hansen, a Danish-born winemaker who is passionate about single vineyard, dry Chenin Blanc – though he does produce a few barrels of Syrah, Grenache and Chardonnay as well. 

Founded in 2004, Leo Steen Wines is a point on Leo Hansen’s journey in food and wine that began in the kitchen of his father’s restaurant in Denmark, led him to explore the wine regions of Europe, and saw him become a sommelier, wine director and, finally, a maker of California wine. From the start, Hansen has eschewed making the expected Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Cab. Instead, he has been a key player in the nascent comeback of California Chenin Blanc, the elegant and versatile grape of the Loire Valley that once was more popular than Chardonnay in Napa and Sonoma but is now grown on less than 50 acres across the two counties.

Steen is the term used in South Africa for wines made of Chenin Blanc. It also happens to be Leo Hansen’s middle name. While charmed by the coincidence, his interest in the grape began while working as a sommelier in Healdsburg. He wished he could offer a food-friendly California wine that wouldn’t cost much but offered structure, elegance and acidity. As luck would have it, right around the time he began making his own wines, he was offered fruit from one of Sonoma County’s last Chenin Blanc vineyards, whose owners were ready to rip out the last remaining acres and plant Chardonnay. While not an overnight success, Hansen has continued to pursue making dry Chenin Blanc from forgotten or overlooked vineyards. In recent years, he’s been joined by a number of like-minded, often younger vintners, and sourcing fruit from good vineyards is getting harder.

Leo Steen Wines continues to make food-friendly wines that are fresh, elegant and affordable. Chenin Blanc is key to the mission, with three vineyard-designated wines: Saini in Dry Creek, Jurassic in Santa Barbara and Peabody in Mendocino. All three vineyards were planted in the early eighties and are dry-farmed, so yields are low. As for winemaking, Leo Hansen works with natural yeasts and limits oak aging and alcohol levels. Syrah, Grenache and Chardonnay round out the portfolio. About vineyards, Leo Hansen has said, “What thrills and inspires me as a winemaker are vineyards that are rich in character, sites that translate into expressive and enthralling wines that give pleasure, but also make you think. Ultimately, making wines that let the vineyards speak is not enough—a vineyard needs to have something worthwhile to say.”

About this Wine


Country USA
Region California
Appellation(s) Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara)
Winery Leo Steen
Vintage 2018
Color White
Varietal(s) Chenin Blanc
Closure Cork
Volume 750ml
Bottle Size 8.5 x 32.5
Case Size 34.5 x 26.0 x 33.5
Alcohol 13.0%
Product Code LS18JUR
UPC NONE
MLF 100%

Owning & Enjoying


Tasting notes

Mineral scented notes of beeswax, quince, lemon zest and pear mingle with hints of wet wool before opening up to a palate of almond paste, dried herbs, and white peach. Acidity and mineral complexity keep the flavors vibrant. The finish is complex and creamy and long.

Production


Vinification

Handpicked grapes were given a few hours of skin contact before pressing and fermentation on natural yeast in concrete eggs. Aging consisted of 11 months in concrete, followed by five months in neutral French oak as well as an additional year in bottle before release.

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