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Posts tagged ‘Leonetti’

An El Gaucho Dining Experience to Remember

This past week marked my 50th birthday, and the culmination of my week-long celebration was dinner at El Gaucho on Saturday. The evening was arranged by my amazing wife Lisa, and included my life-long friend Sean and his equally amazing wife Tracy. El Gaucho, for my money, has always been one of the top steak houses in Seattle. To that end, and to wrap a week of incredible wines, I brought a bottle of ’95 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon and a bottle of ’98 Leonetti Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon to enjoy with our meal.

To set the stage for our experience, you should know that El Gaucho is famous for their tableside service. Our selections on this particular night included a Caesar Salad, Chateaubriand, and Bananas Foster, all of which were prepared while we watched. As our appetizers of pancetta-wrapped prawns and seared diver sea scallops were delivered, the sommelier suggested we move the wines, now in decanters, to the tableside cart to create more room for our first course plates.

After we savored the appetizers, it was time for the salad course. What happened next was both chaotic and surreal: As our server moved to clear the bowls and utensils she used to toss the Ceasars, the cart lost a wheel and collapsed toward Lisa and Tracy. Glasses shattered and dishes fell to the floor. My first thought was that the decanters of our wine were part of the carnage, but somehow both emerged without a scratch. It soon became clear, as I helped my wife sponge wine out of her purse with our napkins, that there was a fair amount of wine lost – both women were wearing quite a bit of the Dalla Valle, likely with a Leonetti spritz.

The staff at El Gaucho immediately went into crisis management mode. They quickly found us a new table, whipped up new salads, and brought what was left of the decanted Dalla Valle and Leonetti. We lost the Leonetti that was in the goblets due to broken glass concerns, and I suspect we lost a glass or two of the Dalla Valle before Tracy instinctively snatched the decanter prior to it hitting the floor.

As we settled in trying to make the most of an uncomfortable situation, the El Gaucho General Manager approached and placed bottles of 2010 Mouton Rothschild and 2008 Lafite Rothchild in front of me. He acknowledged that they couldn’t replace the wine we lost, but they wanted to make things right with one of these from their cellar. I was sorely tempted by the Lafite as I have yet to have the privilege of trying this Chateau, but the wine geek in me won out and I went with the better vintage (plus some vague memory that a critic or two may have scored the Mouton at 100 points). Without getting into specifics here, both of these wines are incredibly expensive at retail, and even more so on a restaurant wine list.

From this point forward, our evening was considerably less exciting. The steaks were fantastic and the deserts were amazing, and as the evening wrapped up our server told us the entire meal was being taken care of by El Gaucho. We felt they had been more than generous with the wine and were happy to pay, but she insisted that was not an option (we did manage to sneak in an appropriate tip). As we left, the GM encouraged us to send any dry cleaning or clothing replacement costs to him for reimbursement.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t comment on the wines. I tend not to take notes on nights like this but the Dalla Valle and Leonetti were both pristine. Tremendous aromatics, great texture and flavors. The perfect foils to an exquisitely cooked steak. Each wine is a great place right now.

The Mouton, albeit young, was almost beyond description. Immensely concentrated and powerful with cassis and plum laden flavors and this almost surreal smoky quality. God willing, I’d love to try this wine again on my 75th Birthday.

The staff at El Gaucho, General Manager James Parsons in particular, handled the evening with the utmost class and turned what could have been a disaster of a birthday into a culinary adventure. El Gaucho has a tremendous and well-deserved reputation for a reason. I truly look forward to my next opportunity to visit.

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2014 “Birth Year” Case Wine Recommendations

This is my 6th annual “Birth Year” case blog post. This post can serve as a guide for readers who had children born in the year of 2014 and want to set aside some wine for them to enjoy when they reach the age to appreciate said wines. My 2013 list was published in May of last year.

2014 was exceptional in Napa and also marked the first really good vintage in Bordeaux since 2010. This is great news for this exercise as many collectors turn to Cabernet Sauvignon when shopping for birth year wines.

Per previous year lists I attempted to find bottles from a diverse number of regions that have the capacity to age under appropriate cellar conditions for upwards of 20 years. I only included wines that cost $150 or less. This is no small task given escalating prices in regions like Napa Valley and the Northern Rhone. Fortunately, 2014 saw “reasonably priced” wines from Bordeaux. These wines should all be available at retail right now. None of these wines should be very hard to find. Happy hunting!

  1. 2014 Chateau Lynch Bages – Region: Bordeaux, Score: 94 points from the Wine Spectator, Price: $100.
  2. 2014 Chateau Montrose – Region: Bordeaux, Score: 96 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $130.
  3. 2014 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou – Region: Bordeaux, Score: 96 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $130.
  4. 2014 Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon – Region: Napa Valley, Score: 94 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $60.
  5. 2014 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon – Region: Napa Valley, Score: 92 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $65.
  6. 2014 Antinori Tignanello – Region: Tuscany, Score: 93 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $90.
  7. 2014 Chateau Climens – Region: Barsac, Score: 97 points from the Wine Spectator, Price: $70.
  8. 2014 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon – Region: Washington, Score: 93 points from the Wine Spectator, Price: $100.
  9. 2014 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec Le Haut-Lieu – Region: Loire, Score: 93 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $40.
  10. 2014 Domaine Charvin – Region: Rhone, Score:95 points from Vinous, Price: $50.
  11. 2014 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese – Region: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Score; 94 points from the Wine Advocate, Price: $45.
  12. 2014 Domaine Jamet Côte-Rôtie – Region: Rhone, Score: 96 points from James Suckling, Price: $130.

If you have followed this series over the years then you may have noticed that wines like Montrose, Tignanello, Charvin and Prum have made multiple appearances. Simply put these are fairly priced, world class wines that should age effortlessly for up to 20 years. The real beauty of this list is you should be able to source the wines without needing to belong to a mailing list. Look at reputable wine stores like Wine Exchange, JJ Buckley and K&L Wines.

I doubt you will find the likes of Lynch Bages, Montrose and Ducru-Beaucaillou at prices like this when the 2015 and 2016 vintages hit the market. This might be the best buying opportunity for Bordeaux we will see in many years.

Other wines to consider that will be more readily available later this year include Cabernets from Dunn, Foreman, Ridge and Chateau Montelena.

I’d love to hear about what wine you are setting aside for your children that were born in 2014.

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2005 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

The 2005 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon was the winning bottle in the March Installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was decanted for an hour and served with steaks.

Leonetti Cellar was founded in 1977 by Gary and Nancy Figgins. Leonetti, along with Quilceda Creek and Woodward Canyon put premium Washington Cabernet Sauvignon on the radar of wine consumers across the United States. Leonetti also produces one of the very best domestic Merlots. Chris Figgins is now in charge of the winemaking.

83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec and 4% Carmenere. Sourced from Mill Creek Upland, Pepper Bride, Loess and Seven Hills Vineyards.

Dark crimson in color. 14.6% ABV. Sexy nose of red fruits, graphite, coffee and toasty oak. Medium body with great structure and an elegance that is second to none. Cherries, currants, cassis and mint on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with the silkiest of tannins. Breathtaking Cabernet Sauvignon from a wonderful vintage. Drink over the next 4-8 years.

My rating: 96 points.

Leonetti has a full mailing list but the wine is readily available at retail in late-March. The winery has done an exceptional job at holding the line on prices and you may be able to buy the recently released 2014 vintage of Leonetti Cabernet Sauvigon for right around $100 at your favorite wine store sometime this Spring.

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2004 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

Leonetti Cellar was founded in 1977 by Gary and Nancy Figgins. Leonetti, along with Quilceda Creek and Woodward Canyon put premium Washington Cabernet Sauvignon on the radar of wine consumers across the United States. Leonetti also produces one of the very best domestic Merlots. Chris Figgins is now in charge of the winemaking.

77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Carmenere. Sourced from Mill Creek Upland and Seven Hills Vineyards.

Bright violet in color. 14.6% ABV. Sultry nose of red fruits, molten licorice and scorched earth. Silky, concentrated and powerful. Currants, cassis liqueur, cherries and graphite on the palate. The classic iron fist in a velvet glove. The finish is endless. Stunning Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 96 points.

Leonetti has a full mailing list but the wine is readily available at retail in late-March. The winery has done an exceptional job at holding the line on prices and you may be able to buy the new 2014 vintage of Leonetti Cabernet Sauvigon for right around $100 at your favorite wine store sometime next Spring.

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2008 Betz Family Syrah La Côte Patriarche – Bottle Notes

Betz Family Winery was founded in 1997 by Bob & Cathy Betz. Critical acclaim from local and national wine publications has put Betz Family Winery at the forefront of Washington wines alongside Cayuse, Leonetti and Quilceda Creek. The winery was sold to Steve and Bridget Griessel five years ago. Louis Skinner, a longtime assistant of Bob’s, is now the full time Winemaker.

2008 was the second vintage of La Côte Patriarche. The fruit is from Red Willow Vineyard in Yakima Valley. The Syrah at Red Willow was planted in 1986 making it the oldest Syrah vineyard in the state.

Inky purple in color. 14.8% ABV. Savory nose of black fruits, olives, grilled meats and wild flowers. Full bodied with tons of acidity. Powerful, layered and concentrated with firm tannins. Blackberry liqueur, black cherries, white pepper and olive brine on the palate. The finish is long and unctuous. Timeless Syrah that is delicious now but will easily age another 4-6 years.

My rating: 93 points.

I understand the mailing list is full, although I suspect the wait isn’t too long. Fortunately, the wines from Betz are readily available all over Seattle almost year-round. The 2014 La Côte Patriarche was released to the mailing list last month and should be available at retail in the near future. I’m a buyer.

I wrote about the new releases in Betz Family Winery End of Summer 2015 Release Party.

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2006 Leonetti Merlot – Bottle Notes

Leonetti Cellar was founded in 1977 by Gary and Nancy Figgins. Leonetti, along with Quilceda Creek and Woodward Canyon put premium Washington Cabernet Sauvignon on the radar of wine consumers across the United States. Leonetti also produces one of the very best domestic Merlots. Chris Figgins is now in charge of the winemaking.

76% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Carmenere and 4% Petit Verdot. Sourced from Seven Hills, Loess, Mill Creek Upland, Pepper Bridge, Bacchus-Dionysus and Wallula Vineyards.

Bright violet in color. 14.3% ABV. Heady nose of red fruits, licorice and cinnamon. Medium body with medium to strong acidity. Plush and decadent. Cherries, cloves, black currants and tobacco on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with suave, silky tannins. Drink over the next 2-4 years. Without question the pinnacle of Washington Merlot.

My rating: 92 points.

Leonetti has a full mailing list but the wine is readily available at retail in late-March. The winery has done an exceptional job at holding the line on prices and you may be able to the new 2014 vintage of Leonetti Merlot for right around $80 at your favorite wine store.

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Pick My Next Bottle – 2004 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon

The February Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Washington Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2004 vintage. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened this Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published shortly thereafter.

I landed on 2004 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon to set the tone for March, which is Taste Washington Wine Month. Taste Washington Wine Month in March is an annual celebration of Washington State’s wine industry. The culmination of Taste Washington Wine Month is Taste Washington, a massive tasting of food and wine held at the CenturyLink Field Event Center.

2004 was a good to very good vintage in Washington. A very hot Summer was followed by a cool Fall. The harvest extended into November for some varieties.

The Contenders:

2004 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon – The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with 19% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Carmenere. Purple-colored, it exhibits a complex nose of smoke, vanilla, pencil lead, olives, licorice, black currants, and blackberry which soars from the glass. Sweet and ripe on the palate, with layers of dark fruit flavors, the wine’s oak, tannin, and acidity are beautifully integrated. The finish lasts for 50+ seconds. Give this Cabernet another 5-7 years in the cellar and drink it through 2035. 95 Points from the Wine Advocate.

2004 Woodward Canyon Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon – Old Vines (35 years of age) elevates the bar. Composed of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot, it is opaque purple-colored and delivers a superb perfume of pain grille, scorched earth, espresso, black currants, and blueberries. This is followed by an extracted wine with richly flavored dark fruits, outstanding concentration, and great balance leading to a 60-second, pure finish. Give this powerful wine 4-6 years of additional bottle age and drink it through 2035. 94 points from the Wine Advocate.

2004 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard – The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Galitzine Vineyard’ comes from the fourth leaf of this estate vineyard and is the first release of the wine, made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 22 months in 100% new French oak. Opaque purple-colored, it has a superb bouquet of pain grille, scorched earth, truffle, walnuts, black cherry, and blackberry liqueur which leaps from the glass. On the palate it is sweet and rich with layers of spicy black fruit flavors, terrific balance, and a 45+ second finish. It does not have quite the weight and depth of the flagship Cabernet but keep in mind that this is the product of a young vineyard only beginning to express its enormous potential. 97 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 2004 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon should I open?

  • 2004 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard (47%, 23 Votes)
  • 2004 Woodward Canyon Old Vine Cabernet Sauvigonon (39%, 19 Votes)
  • 2004 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon (14%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 49

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, please do let me know if you have any suggestions for the March installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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2005 Leonetti Merlot – Bottle Notes

Leonetti Cellar was founded in 1977 by Gary and Nancy Figgins. Leonetti, along with Quilceda Creek and Woodward Canyon put premium Washington Cabernet Sauvignon on the radar of wine consumers across the United States. Leonetti also produces one of the very best domestic Merlots. Chris Figgins is now in charge of the winemaking.

Leonetti is near and dear to me as a wine consumer, and I’ve been on their mailing list for 20 years. Vintages like the ’92 Merlot and ’98 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon are included among my most memorable wines.

The ’05 Merlot is sourced from Mill Creek Upland, Loess, Pepper Bridge, Bacchus-Dioysus, Wallula and Leonetti Estate Vineyards. 85% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petit Verdot.

Purple in color. 14.3% ABV. Great aromatics of black fruits, anise and baking spices. Medium body with good acidity. The hallmark silky texture of all the Leonetti wines is ever present. Black cherry, currants, cassis and cocoa powder on the palate. The finish is tremendous. I’m inclined to drink my last few bottles over the next several years.

My rating: 92 points.

Leonetti has a full mailing list but the wine is readily available at retail in late-March. The winery has done an exceptional job at holding the line on prices and you should be able to find bottles right around $85.

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1998 Leonetti Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

The 1998 Leonetti Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was the winning bottle in the March Installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

Leonetti Cellar was founded in 1977 by Gary and Nancy Figgins. Leonetti, along with Quilceda Creek and Woodward Canyon put premium Washington Cabernet Sauvignon on the radar of wine consumers across the United States. Leonetti also produces one of the very best domestic Merlots. Chris Figgins is now in charge of the winemaking.

Leonetti is near and dear to me as a wine consumer, and I’ve been on their mailing list for 20 years. Vintages like the ’92 Merlot and ’98 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon are included among my most memorable wine experiences.

Fruit for the ’98 Reserve was sourced from Seven Hills, Windrow and Spring Valley Vineyards. The grape composition is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5% Petite Verdot and 12.5% Merlot.

Briefly decanted. Ruby red in color. 13.7% ABV. Sensational aromatics of black fruits, pencil, leather and plums. Flavors of cassis, cloves, graham cracker, and currants. This finish is long and spicy with super silky tannins and just a hint of toasty oak. Sexy wine from an outstanding vintage in Washington. This wine should cruise to twenty years of age which is when I will check in on my last bottle.

My rating: 96 points.

Leonetti has a full mailing list but the wine is readily available at retail in late March. The 2012 Leonetti Reserve will set you back $150.

I blogged about Chris Figgins previously in The Wines of Chris Figgins.

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Pick My Next Bottle – Washington Legends

March is Taste Washington Wine Month. Taste Washington Wine Month is an annual celebration of Washington State’s award winning industry. The culmination of Taste Washington Wine Month is Taste Washington, a massive tasting of food and wine held at the CenturyLink Field Event Center.

With that in mind the March Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on great bottles from the very best producers in Washington. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened this Sunday and a Bottle Note will be published later that week.

The Contenders

  • 1998 Leonetti Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – I could not help breaking into a smile when I tasted the medium to dark ruby-colored 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Its extraordinarily spicy, cherry syrup-scented nose leads to a flavor profile that explodes on the palate with substantial quantities of cherry syrup, raspberry coulis, and Asian spices. Gary Figgins’ Cabernets can be as boisterous as Olivier Humbrecht’s Gewurztraminers. The purity and power of the sweet, spicy fruit flavors found in this wine are truly extraordinary. Additionally, it possesses an extremely long, candied, sweet tannin-filled finish. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvigon – Unlike some minuscule production “cult” wines or luxury cuvees culled from a winery’s primary product that have earned perfect scores over the years, Quilceda Creek’s Cabernet Sauvignon is the winery’s raison d’etre and is produced in significant quantities (3,400 cases in 2002, 3,425 in 2003). For accomplishing this feat the Golitzens should be doubly proud. Dark ruby-colored and sporting a nose of violets, sweet blueberries, dark cherries, and slight undertones of asphalt, the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon blossoms on the palate to expose a wine of ethereal delicacy yet immense power. Medium to full-bodied, it expands to reveal concentrated layers of cassis, blackberries, red cherries, raspberries, violets, spices, and touches of candied plums. This rich, exquisitely balanced, sweet, and broad wine is harmonious, graceful, and awesomely long. 100 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2008 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard – The 2008 Armada Vineyard Syrah takes the longest to come around according to Christophe Baron. It was aged in puncheon for 22 months. Smoked meat, game, Asian spices, lavender, and blueberry are just some of the scents composing the wine’s aromatic array. In the glass it opens to reveal a pure, rich, elegant but powerful wine with a 60-second finish. It, too, will drink nicely for 10-12 years. I’m a bit cautious on my aging potential estimates because of the lack of a track record. 98 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which Washington Legend should I open?

  • 1998 Leonetti Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (53%, 30 Votes)
  • 2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (35%, 20 Votes)
  • 2008 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard (12%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 57

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the April Installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to Zinfandel Chronicles updates by email.

 

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