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Leonetti Merlot 2010

Merlot from Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
  • WE95
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14.3% ABV
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14.3% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Dense, dark, and lush but with amazing focus and levity. Loaded with dark blue and black fruits. Gorgeous high tone aromatics are reminiscent of brambleberry reduction compote. Long and plush on the palate, but with a fine grained tannin structure and brilliant acidity from the epic 2010 vintage. This may be the finest Merlot in Leonetti's history. I am completely enamored by the complexity of this wine. The cool vintage gives such restraint to the opulence of the fruit. This wine will drink well upon release but age for many years to come. Made with 100% Merlot.

Critical Acclaim

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WE 95
Wine Enthusiast
A classic take on Merlot - this is 100% varietal, and was aged for 15 months in new and neutral French oak barrels and botti. The flavors more through strawberry, raspberry and Bing cherry, with great breadth of flavor and texture throughout. The midpalate is concentrated and fulll, with a fine, lingering, superclean finish. Cellar Selection.
WS 93
Wine Spectator
Shows real presence and depth, offering a vibrant package of red berry, cherry and black currant, with hints of licorice and herbs as the finish lingers impressively. Cellaring should soften the raw feel and make this something special.
RP 93
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The Leonetti 2010 Merlot - which, unlike any preceding vintage save for 2000 and 2008, was blended with no other variety - offers a perfect validation of Chris Figgins's intention to render a serious, self-standing wine from this grape capable of starring in Washington if given the right, sufficiently clay-rich and thermally temperate sort of site. Fresh dark cherry and purple plum already announced in the nose take on a delightful primary juiciness and invigoratingly tart fruit skin edge on a fine-grained palate. This is so exuberantly juicy and saliva-stimulating in its long, lip-smacking finish - a feature no doubt enhanced by bottling after only 14 months in barrique, and justifying the release of Leonetti Merlots a year ahead of their other wines - that you can't possibly take just one sip. Piquant fruit pit, crushed stone, and peat add interest and stimulation to an energetic yet lusciously ripe and richly-textured effort whose longevity will, I predict, surprise most wine lovers (perhaps even its authors?) and extend for more than a dozen years. The intended Merlot self-sufficiency on exhibit here is furthered by Figgins' increasing reliance on grapes from their relatively cool, long-ripening Mill Creek Upland Vineyard, with fruit from Seven Hills or Loess more apt to end up being selectively blended into their other reds or sold off.
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Leonetti

Leonetti Cellar

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Leonetti Cellar, Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
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Exclusive production of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have been the hallmark of Gary Figgins' Leonetti Cellar winery in the suburbs of Walla Walla. Grapes from his own vineyard and from other nearby properties are used to create these rich and robust varietal wines. The attractive new winery building made of native stone houses barrel storage and fermenting tanks.

Walla Walla Valley

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Responsible for some of Washington’s most highly acclaimed wines, the Walla Walla Valley has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years and is home to both historic wineries and younger, up-and-coming producers.

The Walla Walla Valley, a Native American name meaning “many waters,” is located in southeastern Washington; part of the appellation actually extends into Oregon. Soils here are well-drained, sandy loess over Missoula Flood deposits and fractured basalt.

It is a region perfectly suited to Rhône-inspired Syrahs, distinguished by savory notes of red berry, black olive, smoke and fresh earth. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot create a range of styles from smooth and supple to robust and well-structured. White varieties are rare but some producers blend Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon, resulting in a rich and round style, and plantings of Viognier, while minimal, are often quite successful.

Of note within Walla Walla, is one new and very peculiar appellation, called the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. This is the only AVA in the U.S. whose boundaries are totally defined by the soil type. Soils here look a bit like those in the acclaimed Rhône region of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but are large, ancient, basalt cobblestones. These stones work in the same way as they do in Chateauneuf, absorbing and then radiating the sun's heat up to enhance the ripening of grape clusters. The Rocks District is within the part of Walla Walla that spills over into Oregon and naturally excels in the production of Rhône varieties like Syrah, as well as the Bordeaux varieties.

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. But the grape also has enough stuffing to make serious, world-renowned wines. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, in St. Emilion and Pomerol, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

In the Glass

Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

Perfect Pairings

Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

Sommelier Secret

Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.

YNG859620_2010 Item# 115599