2019 LEO STEEN Chenin Blanc Jurassic Park Vineyard

LEO STEEN Chenin Blanc Jurassic Park Vineyard

¥6,160 (incl. tax)

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Named for the dinosaur fossils discovered nearby, this vineyard, 400 m up 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 the root louse. Though somewhat risky, own-rooted vines are heartier and require less irrigation. This is a wine that seduces with texture, wet stone minerality, and alluring notes of honeysuckle, white peach, orange blossom, and fresh hay. It’s an appealing dry wine with good weight and understated acidity.


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 2019
Color White
Varietal(s) Chenin Blanc
Closure Cork
Volume 750ml
Bottle Size 8.5 x 29.5
Case Size 34.5 x 26.0 x 30.5
Alcohol 11.5%
Product Code LS19JUR

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.



Handpicked grapes were given a few hours of skin contact before pressing and fermentation on natural yeast in concrete eggs. Aging consisted of 10 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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