3 from Leonetti

Hello friends. Today we have one of our annual Full Pull rites: our offering of Leonetti’s new releases. Deep in the grey-black gloom of February, it’s a bud pushing through cold earth: a clear indication that spring is on the ascendancy. It’s one of my favorite offerings to write each year, but this year – with two of the three wines (alas, no Sangiovese allocation this year) coming from the heralded 2012 vintage – there is an extra spark in the air, an extra hum of electricity.

[On that note, a quick aside to mention that early indications are that allocations are indeed going to be competitive for these spring releases of 2012-vintage wines. Our first data point was Avennia, and they’re reporting that they’re already completely sold out of their new Valery wine (don’t worry; we still have an allocation coming), and that they also sold through big chunks of Gravura and Sestina at their release party.]

It isn’t every day that you get to write about the grand dame of the Walla Walla Valley, the founding winery in that AVA that quickly became one of Washington’s few cult producers. Founded in 1978 by Gary Figgins, Leonetti rapidly established a reputation as one of Washington’s top Cabernet and Merlot producers, helped along by their 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon being recognized as best in nation in a Wine & Spirits Magazine blind tasting. Brisk mailing list sales followed, and soon thereafter, the mailing list closed and the waiting list opened.

Currently it’s the second generation helming the winery, in the form of Chris Figgins. Chris has subtly shifted the emphasis of the winery towards its estate vineyards in the past few years, and the results have been outstanding. I have also been lucky enough to taste vintages of Leonetti wines from the ‘80s and ‘90s, as well as plenty of more recent vintages. These are wines that can age in profoundly beautiful directions (if you can resist their youthful charms). The transition to Leonetti’s second generation is just about complete, and the future for this Mt. Rushmore-level Washington winery looks bright indeed.

Now, a quick logistics reminder: This is a pre-release offering, where we’re sending the offer before we know our allocations. Using this model allows us to advocate on behalf of our list for allocations that most accurately reflect our overall demand. The flip side is: some pre-release offerings turn out to be mirage wines: wines where we end up receiving smaller-than-expected allocations and then need to under-allocate.

As far as timing goes, we should be able to send out allocation notices in about a month (orders will remain Pending until then), and the wines should arrive at the warehouse in late March. Now let’s dig into them:

2013 Leonetti Merlot

First produced in 1981, this Merlot (with 8% Cab Franc) now comes entirely from Leonetti’s estate sites: Mill Creek Upland, Loess, and Old Block Vineyards. No reviews yet for the 2013, but the 2008 received 96pts Paul Gregutt (Wine Enthusiast), the 2009 94pts Gregutt, the 2010 95pts Gregutt, the 2011 93pts Gregutt, and the 2012 94pts Gregutt and 94pts Jeb Dunnuck (Wine Advocate).

Winery tasting notes: [TEXT WITHHELD].

2012 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon

First produced in Leonetti’s inaugural vintage – 1978 – this 2012 marks the 35th consecutive vintage of Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon. This comes from Mill Creek Upland Estate Vineyard, Loess Estate Vineyard, Leonetti Estate Vineyard old block, and Seven Hills Vineyard old block. The blend includes 6% Merlot, 3% Cab Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. No reviews yet for the 2012, but the 2008 received 98pts Gregutt (and the #3 position on Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 of 2011), the 2009 97pts Gregutt, the 2010 97+pts Dunnuck and 95(+?)pts Stephen Tanzer (Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar), and the 2011 95(+?)pts Tanzer.

Winery tasting notes: [TEXT WITHHELD].

2012 Leonetti Reserve

While they had produced Reserve Cabernets before 2000, it was at the millennial turn that Leonetti dropped the varietal designation on their Reserve, freeing them to create a Bordeaux blend in whatever proportions would craft the finest wine possible. In 2012, the blend is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, rounded out with 10% Malbec, 8% Petit Verdot, and 6% Merlot. Vineyards again include Mill Creek Upland, Loess, and Leonetti Old Block, along with Serra Pedace. No reviews yet for the 2012 (Dunnuck did rate a barrel sample at 95-97pts), but the 2008 received 97pts Jay Miller (Wine Advocate) and 96pts Gregutt (also a spot on Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Cellar Selections of 2011), the 2009 95pts David Schildknecht (Wine Adovcate) and 94pts Gregutt and Tanzer, the 2010 a game-changing/eye-popping 100pts Jeb Dunnuck (Wine Adovcate), as well as 95pts Gregutt, and the 2011 a 94+ Tanzer.

Winery tasting notes: [TEXT WITHHELD].

Please limit order requests to 12 Cabernet, 6 Merlot, and 6 Reserve, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. I want to emphasize again that we have no guaranteed allocations on these wines but will certainly do our best to secure parcels that reflect the overall demand of our list. If all goes according to schedule, the wines should arrive at the warehouse in late March, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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