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Leo Steen Jurassic Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2013
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
When I founded Leo Steen Wines in 2004, those experiences stayed with me. I wanted to look beyond the standards—Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon—and instead offer people unique and interesting varietals. I also wanted people to able to enjoy my wines by the glass. This meant offering them at a price that was both accessible and fair, without ever sacrificing quality.
All of my wines are made by my own hand in small lots using gentle, traditional winemaking techniques. In the spectrum of California winemaking, they are crafted at lower alcohols, with very modest amounts of new oak, or none at all. While my wines offer lovely fruit, I strive to express the purity of these flavors as part of a balanced and harmonious whole. Finally, to ensure that every barrel of wine receives the attention it deserves (an idea symbolized by my Sommelier Prints), I make less than 1,000 cases each vintage.
I hope you enjoy my Leo Steen wines, and I thank you for your interest.
Ranging from cool and foggy in the west to warm and dry in the east, The Santa Ynez Valley is one of California’s most climatically diverse growing areas. The most expansive AVA within the larger Santa Barbara County region, Santa Ynez is also home to a wide variety of soil types and geographical features. To avoid an identity crisis, the appellation is further divided into four distinct sub-AVAs—Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District, and Happy Canyon—each with its own defining characteristics.
As one might expect from such a vast and varied region, a wide selection of grapes is planted here—more than sixty different varieties and counting. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir dominate in the chilly west, while Zinfandel, Rhône blends, and Bordeaux blends rule the arid east. Syrah is successful at both ends of the valley, with a lean and peppery Old-World sensibility closer to the coast and lush berry fruit further inland.
Responsible for some of the world’s highest quality white wines, Chenin Blanc doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves. Unquestionably at its best in its birthplace of the Loire Valley, Chenin Blanc can do it all—from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still or sparkling. Perhaps Chenin Blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. Chenin Blanc is planted in California, namely in the Clarksburg AVA but also very widely planted in South Africa, where it is occasionally labeled as “Steen.”
In the Glass
Chenin Blanc ranges from austere to richly sweet, with aromas of McIntosh apple, honey, beeswax, jasmine, hay, and quince. When grown in warmer regions, Chenin Blanc develops richer, tropical-fruit flavors, such as pineapple and melon, as well as ripe stone fruit. Often these wines carry some residual sugar.
Cool-climate Chenin Blanc has the structure, austerity, and chalky acidity to work with antipasti or unadorned seafood, such as oysters and shellfish. Off-dry styles work well with the sweet-and-sour nature of Thai and Vietnamese food.
There are several appellations throughout the Loire Valley devoted to producing different styles of Chenin Blanc. Vouvray, Saumur, Anjou, and Savennieres are known for excellent dry and off-dry wines; Vouvray, along with Montlouis, Bonnezeaux, and Quarts de Chaume, produces glorious late-picked sweet wines whose high sugar levels are offset by Chenin Blanc’s hallmark acidity. Sparkling Crèmant de Loire, Saumur, and Vouvray provide delightfully affordable and flavorful alternatives to Champagne.