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Leo Steen Jurassic Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2015

  • WW93
750ML / 12.5% ABV
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750ML / 12.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

This wine begins with a beautiful nose of lemon citrus, quince, crushed rock minerality, sweet hay, and herbs. On the palate, an almost architectural streak of acidity adds poise and length to flavors of smoked pineapple, lemon verbena, and citrus candy, all of which carry through to a long, complex and creamy finish.

Critical Acclaim

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WW 93
Wilfred Wong of Wine.com
COMMENTARY: A couple of years ago when I first tasted this wine, I immediately became enchanted with it. The 2015 Leo Steen Chenin Blanc "The Steen" is a remarkable example of this grape variety grown in the New World. TASTING NOTES: This wine has everything a wine lover would want in a white wine. Its aromas and flavors of dried citrus peel, chalk, and mineral are striking and lasting on the palate. Pair its fine flavors with seared sea scallops and you will see how I felt. (Tasted: August 31, 2018, San Francisco, CA)
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Leo Steen

Leo Steen

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Leo Steen, California
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At Leo Steen, I strive to make interesting wines with both a sense of place and a purpose. For me, the “purpose” of my wines has become a quintessential element in my winemaking philosophy. Years ago, before I embarked upon my journey as a winemaker, I was a sommelier guiding people through an exploration of the timeless relationship between wine and food. I loved thinking about how food and wine worked together, and offering people choices beyond the obvious. The satisfaction of introducing people to new varietals from exciting undiscovered vineyards, and showing how these wines enhanced great food, was and continues to be, thrilling for me.

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.

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Santa Ynez Valley

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Ranging from cool and foggy in the west to warm and dry in the east, the Santa Ynez Valley is a climatically diverse growing area. 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. 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.

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.

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Chenin Blanc

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Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. While most would agree it reigns supreme when from its birthplace of the Loire Valley, Chenin is the most planted variety in South Africa. California’s Clarksburg appellation is also winning more notoriety for its Chenin.

In the Glass

Chenin's drier versions commonly have characteristics of passion fruit, lemon, quince, green apple, saffron and chamomile while sweeter version express aromas and flavors such as yellow pear, white peach, persimmon, melon, ginger and honeysuckle. When aged in oak, qualities like meringue and brioche can be found. Sparkling versions often have yellow apple, ginger and floral notes.

Perfect Pairings

Cool-climate Chenin blanc has the chalky acidity to work with light seafood such as oysters and shellfish. Off-dry styles work well with the sweet-and-sour nature of Thai and Vietnamese food. The sparkling versions such as Saumur Mousseux, Vouvray Petillant and Crémant de Loire make amazing aperitif options that won’t bruise the pocketbook.

Sommelier Secret

South Africa actually has double the amount of Chenin blanc planted compared to France. It is believed that either the Dutch navigator, Jan van Riebeeck, brought the grape to Cape Town in 1655 or the Huguenots fleeing France brought it in 1685. Either way, the South Africans have favored it for many centuries and make it in almost every style. Today a new wave of dedicated producers has committed to restoring old Chenin vines and finding the most ideal new spots for this prized variety.

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