Leonetti Reserve 2017
The 2017 Leonetti Reserve is a richly colored ruby to the rim. Bolder than the Cabernet bottling, this flagship wine boasts a brilliant bouquet of baking spices, rising dough, and brambleberry pie. Cabernet Sauvignon forms the wonderful foundation and aromatics of this wine. Petit Verdot makes up almost a third of this blend and contributes a phenomenal duet of power and elegance. I often describe Petit Verdot as “the rails” upon which the other varietals rest because of the linear way it strikes the palate. Malbec brings laser-like focus and breadth to the overall fruit profile.
Blend: 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Petit Verdot, 10% Malbec
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
I had two off bottles of the 2017 Reserve, both showing huge volatile acidity, yet I had two great bottles as well, which are represented by this note. A blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Petit Verdot, and 10% Malbec, all aged 22 months in new barrels (as well as some neutral oval botti), it reveals a stunning bouquet of lead pencil shavings, toasty oak, incense, and dried tobacco, and it’s complex, nuanced, and layered aromatically. There’s not a hard edge to be found in this deep purple-hued effort, which offers the essence of blackberry liqueur fruits as well as full-bodied richness, beautiful concentration, and an opulent, expansive, yet precise mouthfeel. Made in a more elegant style than the 2015 and not far off the magical 2016, it’s going to benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age and should have 3-4 decades of overall longevity. Rating: 97+
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.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, the best of these are densely hued, fragrant, full of fruit and boast a structure that begs for cellar time. Somm Secret—Blends from Bordeaux are generally earthier compared to those from the New World, which tend to be fruit-dominant.