2019 Leo Steen, Grenache, Proviser Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley AVA, Sonoma County.
One of the best Rhone style wines I’ve had in the past year, the dark garnet/ruby 2019 Leo Steen Provider Vineyard Dry Creek Grenache by Danish ex-pat winemaker Leo Hansen is full of fruit intensity, depth, spice and tannic structure, very much in the vein of classic old school old vine Gigondas and or the high elevation Sierra de Gredos wines from Spain, this is exceptional stuff from this label that is mainly known for their amazing Chenin. I was thrilled to taste with Leo recently and go through his current releases, with his outstanding Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Franc and this stellar Grenache being two of my favorites of Hansen’s red wine offerings, this are wines you really need to discover if you’ve not tried them yet. This Grenache has a surprising amount of grip to go allow with its beautiful fruit density, easily making it a standout for this varietal and a wine that looks to have tons of aging potential, while still drinking impeccably well now, just be sure to have it with a robust meal. This 2019 comes it at just 13.3% natural alcohol and has a lively burst of freshness with layers of crushed bramble berry, strawberry, Summer plums and a hint of candied cherry and grilled orange fruits along with peony florals, dried lavender/sage, anise, crushed stones, herbal minty notes, peppery spices and lingering framboise. This wine is perfectly judged, mixing hedonistic fruit with savory elements to achieve spot on Grenache greatness, all in a nicely restrained and seductive wine that takes California Grenache to a new level of thrill!
Leo explains that his Grenache is terroir driven, coming from a site located in the famed Lytton Springs District of Dry Creek Valley, adding that the Provisor Vineyard’s prized red rock soils are planted to Tablas Creek Clone D Grenache, originally cuttings from Beaucastel’s Chateauneuf du Pape estate, in ideal north-south rows that run down a gently sloping hillside. This plot of Grenache grown in Provisor’s warm climate, with ideal dry conditions and cool nights, these organically farmed grapes achieve, what Hansen says, is beautiful (full) ripeness, while preserving wonderful natural acidity and tannins, which this 2019 shows to near perfection. To make this wine the best that it can be, Hansen employed 80% whole cluster fermentation using the traditional pigeage method to enhance the wine’s rustic charms. The remaining 20% undergo carbonic maceration for, as Hansen continues, the Grenache’s bright, sweet red fruit notes to shine through and balance the wine’s full bunch crunch and stemmy notes. After 18 days on the skins the wine was drained & pressed to an oak cask using a gentle basket press, with Leo preferring a large neutral 360 gallon French oak vat to mature this Grenache. The Proviser Grenache sees 14 Months in the wood and then another two months in a stainless steel tank, It was racked once and bottled unfiltered and unfined to preserve its complete set of flavors and every nuance of character. I was massively impressed by these Leo Steen wines and found them all very alluring and complex efforts that are wonderful values as well, being all hand crafted small lot wines from holistically and organically farmed vines, I highly recommend chasing them down!
($42 ESt.) 95 Points, grapelive