Winery/Vineyard: Leoness Cellars, Alessandro Vineyard
Product/Varietal: 100% Syrah
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: Tim Kramer
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. Harvested between September 18th and September 19th from Alessandro Vineyard in the western hills of Temecula, this wine was aged in small oak barrels for 20 months. Rich blackberry and black cherry aromas and flavors are layered with black pepper and vanilla, leading into a soft, velvety finish.
How I Describe It
The Leoness 2017 VS Syrah appears medium ruby-red. There’s a smidge of purple in the hue, to be expected in Syrah, but the wine’s maturation from three years of micro-oxygenation in barrel and bottle has begun to show.
The most prominent fruit aromas are cranberry, blackberry, and plum. Vanilla pastry, eucalyptus, black licorice, and lavender complement the berry effervescence. Nutmeg and whispers of wet wool are subtle but detectable.
Concentrated, mostly black fruit come across strongest on the palate. Tart blackberry joins fig, prune and black currant, along with black licorice. From both oak and grape, strong herbaceous and spice notes of cedar, eucalyptus, asparagus, and black pepper add power to the wine. Bittersweet chocolate and a hint of wet leaves make up the finish.
The Leoness Cellars 2017 VS Syrah is a dry wine. Bold flavors and high alcohol heat (14.8% ABV) join medium-plus acid and medium-plus tannin. These together give the wine a full body, with pronounced flavors, which linger for a long finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
I’m going to share a belief which wine snobs will gasp at: most Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers are drinking the wrong kind of wine. There’s a wine which tends to show the characteristics they’re looking for with even greater intensity: Temecula Syrah.
Why do I say this?
Well, what is it about the average Cabernet Sauvignon wine which attracts most drinkers? Perhaps it’s the big, bold flavors. Or maybe it’s the combination of rich dark fruit and chocolate-tobacco-pepper notes. It could possibly be the oak attributes, or the tanninc-acid balance, or the wine’s age-ability. Those are all good reasons.
Indeed, Temecula Syrahs have all of those.
Importantly, I want to distinguish between Temecula Syrahs and Syrahs from other regions. Don’t get me wrong, other appellations produce very nice Syrahs, but they’re not the same as those which come from the Temecula Valley AVA.
For instance, last week I poured a Central Coast Syrah my wife and I purchased from BevMo!. Similar to many of its Australian counterparts (they call it Shiraz), this wine boasted a 13.5% ABV — around what you’d find in Cabernets and Merlots — but lower than Temecula and even some Rhône Syrahs. We found the lack of viscosity from the lower ABV depleted the wine’s body and made it a bit watery.
By contrast, Temecula Syrahs, including the Leoness Cellars 2017 VS Syrah, are almost universally over 14% ABV. That additional booziness contributes the extra body the wine needs. It also amplifies the black fruit while preserving the more delicate herbaceous, spice, and floral elements.
So, if you’re hunt for a bold red wine — and especially if you’ve historically leaned heavily on Cabernets — I strongly recommend hunting down a bottle of Temecula Syrah, like this one.
When & How I Would Drink It
The Leoness Cellars 2017 VS Syrah’s flavors live somewhere between what you’d expect from still table wine and a fortified wine-based digestif. The baked and partially dehydrated fruit combined with the herbaceous and spice notes bring up similarities to vermouth and some amaros. Consequently, pouring a glass to relax after dinner would not be wrongheaded.
If popping the cork with food, though, your best bet is to pair with savory, well-seasoned, grilled or stewed red meat. The bittersweet chocolate, black pepper, and anise would complement dishes like roasted brisket or dry-rubbed ribeye amazingly.
How to Get It
Bottle Price: $60.00
Cases Produced: 396 cases
Have you tried the Leoness Cellars 2017 VS Syrah? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.