2022 LEO STEEN Chenin Blanc Saini Farms

LEO STEEN Chenin Blanc Saini Farms

¥4,950 (incl. tax)

While Chenin Blanc is making a comeback in the California wine industry, it has yet to regain the mass production it saw back in the 1970s, when it was consumed either as a semi-sweet varietal or as a component in popular jug wines. The Saini Vineyard in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley demonstrates that, under the right conditions, Chenin Blanc can be bone-dry, sleek and elegant. Planted in 1982, the vines are dry-farmed in sandy soil, so yields are low and the fruit expresses pure flavors and freshness that gets lost in warmer sites. Winemaking emphasizes the natural flavors of the fruit, too, with a mere five months in neutral French oak. The result is a rich, silky wine with flavors of citrus, orchard fruit and wild herbs and a lovely mouthfeel with a hint of viscosity. If you are looking for something new for an evening’s aperitif or light meal, try this Chenin Blanc from Leo Steen.


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) Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma)
Winery Leo Steen
Vintage 2022
Color White
Varietal(s) Chenin Blanc
Closure Cork
Volume 750ml
Bottle Size 8.5 x 29.5
Case Size 33.5 x 26.0 x 30.5
Alcohol 13.0%
Product Code LS22CN
UPC 000408169415
MLF 100%

Owning & Enjoying

Tasting notes

92 points (2021 vintage) – Antonio Galloni.

Green pear, yellow apples, chamomile, and white flowers precede lively citrus, orchard fruit, mineral, spice and almond notes. The texture is juicy, a touch creamy, and nicely rounded.



Lightly-crushed grapes were given a couple of hours of skin contact prior to pressing and fermentation on natural yeasts in stainless steel. 90% was transferred to neutral French oak and 10% to concrete egg for five months aging on fine lees. 100% went through malolactic fermentation.

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