Winery/Vineyard: Leoness Cellars, Rolling Hills Vineyard
Product/Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
4.0 out of 5 stars on Vivino
How They Describe It
Our Vineyard Selection Series wines are hand-crafted from specially selected lots of wine which showcase the unique characteristics imparted on a varietal by a particular vineyard. Aged for 21 months in small French and American oak barrels, the 2016 Rolling Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is soft and well balanced, with aromas of rich blackberry and boysenberry. Hints of vanilla, clove and green olive are framed by soft tannins that continue into a generous and velvety finish.
How I Describe It
Through the wine glass, the Leoness Cellars’ 2016 VS Cabernet Sauvignon shows medium ruby, which is normal for most Cabs. It looks like the wine might be starting to transition to garnet. This happens naturally as wines age, where oxygen seeps in small amounts through the cork into the bottle, reacting with the wine.
Significant oak exposure might have accelerated the process. Leoness chose to use small oak barrels during the aging process. Oak wood is porous, allowing tiny bits of oxygen through as the barrels expand and contract over time. Smaller barrels mean more of the wine touched that oxygenated oak than if it were aged in standard barrels or large casks.
Red and black fruit lead on the nose, with cranberry, black cherry, plum, and currant more apparent. Oak elements, including vanilla, cedar, clove, and charred wood are strong, as well as a yeasty toast aroma. Savory vegetal notes include green olive and grass, with the bottle’s age beginning to display hints of forest floor and wet leaves. Additional undertones of white pepper, and minerally wet stone.
The palate on the 2016 VS Cabernet Sauvignon is much more direct. Cranberry and cherry blend with green olive, vanilla, clove, and cedar. There is a minor bitter vegetal flavor, also normal for Southern California Cabs.
At 13.8% ABV, this is a medium alcohol, dry wine. In addition, well-integrated medium-plus tannins accompany medium-plus acid, giving the wine medium-plus body. Intensity is medium-plus, with a medium finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
Leoness Cellars is the embodiment of major thought-leadership in the Temecula Valley AVA. They are the flagship of a company called Temecula Valley Winery Management, which helps smaller local wineries produce quality products. In fact, among their clientelle is Avensole Winery. Head winemaker Tim Kramer will likely be referenced throughout this site.
Leoness Cellars divides their wines into three categories: Cellar Selection (CS), Vineyard Selection (VS), and Signature Selection (SS). Based on their wines in each portfolio, VS focuses more heavily on fruit quality, where CS is more entry level and SS uses more new oak aging.
Consequently, the 2016 VS Cabernet Sauvignon is a lighter take on the signature Bordeaux varietal. That is to say, where many New World Cab Sauvs are heavy on chocolate and tobacco notes, this version features fruit notes much more prominently. It seems the grapes were harvested a bit early, possibly to create a wine with more industry-recognized alcohol content. While some of the black fruit notes are more subtle as a result, it lends a crisp note which is delightfully refreshing in a world of overbearingly heavy Cabs.
When & How I Would Drink It
Normally, Cabernet Sauvignon wines are served somewhere between 60º to 65º Fahrenheit. Because of how fruity this wine is, you could chill this wine a bit more, into the mid-to-high 50’s. If you’re storing wines at room temperature, this means chilling the bottle for 30-40 minutes in the refrigerator.
Like most Cabernets, pair Leoness Cellars 2016 VS Cabernet Sauvignon with fatty red meat — think grilled steak or a juicy cheeseburger. Rich dishes like Chicken Parmesan are also excellent accompaniments.
How to Get It
Bottle Price: $60
Cases Produced: unknown
Have you tried the Leoness Cellars 2016 VS Cabernet Sauvignon? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.