2021 Leo Steen, Casa Verde Red Wine, Redwood Valley.
The Casa Verde Red by Leo Hansen at Leo Steen wines is sort of like Cru Beaujolais meets Cotes du Rhone, it is a Redwood Valley sourced blend of mainly Grenache and Carignan, but with some Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon and even some French Colombard white grapes, which is generous and delicious stuff that feels fresh, fruit forward and quaffable. The carbonic like style makes for a smooth medium bodied wine that comes from all organic and dry farmed 70 year old vines with sandy loams and clay based soils, which sees warm days and cool nights that delivers concentration and nice lively acidity. For this wine Hansen used native fermentation and a short maceration period with a very gentle extraction before racking it to a combination of stainless steel and used French oak barrels where the Casa Verde red wine saw 16 months. The palate is led my Italian cherry, plum, crushed raspberry and pomegranate fruits as well as spice, mineral and peony florals and silky tannin, making for a brightly focused wine that goes well with almost any cuisine and will be a great drinker for the next 3 to 5 years.

Leo Hansen, formerly a sommelier from Copenhagen Denmark, who has a well rounded background, having done stints in Alsace, Loire, Champagne and Burgundy to Spain and Italy moved to California in 1999 to, as he notes, immerse himself in winemaking, finally landing at Alexander Valley’s Stuhlmuller Vineyards, where he became the winemaker. At that time, in 2004, Leo also started his own label, Leo Steen wines, which allowed him to make wines more to his personal tastes, leaning on his old world palate. Hansen, to achieve his goals, uses a variety of fermentation methods and a combination of aging vessels in his wines to showcase each vineyard and terroir with transparency in his wines, this, he has done very successfully in his latest set of wines, especially in his Grenache, Cab Franc and the collection of Chenin Blanc offerings, which are his main focus. After meeting Leo Hansen recently, I have really become a big fan of his Leo Steen wines, which all impressed me, with this Casa Verde Red Wine, only 172 cases made, being one of the best value packed and fun new California wines I’ve tried this year so far, but without question his Chenin Blanc offerings are not to be missed.
($24 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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