As the first winery in Walla Walla, founded in 1977, Leonetti Cellar has made a name for itself over the years for its expressive and rich Merlots and Cabernets. The winery is located in a beautiful part of Walla Walla, outside of town. From what began with a small amount of land, over time the Leonetti family has purchased a large parcel of land east of town and the estate is scenic and spacious. Amy Figgins, the daughter of Leonetti’s founder, Gary Figgins, graciously served as our tour guide.
Amy showed us the first small beginnings of their winery. It was a very humble looking building, roughly 300 sq. feet. Things changed with the incredible success that the Figgins family created. The production center now is not only a colossus but is an architectural marvel, up there with the best production and barrel rooms in Napa. It was very exciting to see that Chris Figgins is now experimenting with relatively obscure varietals, such as Aglianico, but is also ageing certain varietals in clay pots. The tour ends with a tasting of both the recent releases of Merlot and Cabernet. The 2013 Merlot is an exquisite effort, up there with the best Merlot ever produced in this estate. This warm vintage wine was the highest rated Merlot that I’ve had this year. The wine is seamless, rich and delicious. It is so great out of the bottle that it would be hard to cellar. After the Merlot I sampled the 2012 Cabernet. This wine was a massive and epic Cabernet, up there with the best Cabernet in the state. The flavors and balance were exquisite. Leonetti is a wine club only winery but you can find their wines at great wine shops like Esquin. Here are some of the fantastic new releases from Leonetti. Learn more about their story at leonetticellar.com #leonetticellar
2013 Leonetti Cellar Merlot- This wine comes from Loess vineyard, Mill Creek vineyard, Upland vineyard as well as Leonetti Old Block. This is a blend of 92% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc, with a higher percentage of Cab Franc than I have ever seen being used for this blend, as Cab Franc was most recently used in this blend from 2001-2003 and then in 2009. The wine saw 15 months in new and once filled French oak. The nose begins with aromas of black cherry, prune, cassis, and dill with lightly herbaceous aromatics. The palate has silky texture and wonderful weight. There are flavors of blackberry, red cherry, dill and black plum in this tremendous effort. This serious juice is hard to resist now. Drink 2015-2030-95
2012 Leonetti Cellar Cabernet- This is an intense blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot comes from the Seven Hills vineyard, the Loess vineyard, Mill Creek vineyard, Upland vineyard and Leonetti Old Block. It saw 22 months in new and once used French oak barrels. The winemaker says this wine reminds him of the 2008 Cabernet. In the glass the wine explodes with ripe flavors of Turkish coffee, cassis, black olive and black cherry. There are flavors of anise, crème de cassis, blackberry and moderate tannin structure. The richness and mouthfeel is there. This seamless wine glides on with a long finish. This is a memorable wine. Drink 2015-2035-95
2012 Leonetti Cellars Sangiovese- This wine came from the Seven Hills, Mill Creek, Upland and
Serra Pedace vineyards. It is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 12% Syrah, 8% Aglianico, as this is the first vintage that they have opted for their estate Aglianico. The wine opens with a ripe nose of red currant, red cherry, black pepper and oak. There is a silky and viscous mouthfeel that leads to flavors of red cherry, anise, cranberry with medium tannins. One of the best, if not the best, Washington Sangios out there. Needs another year in the bottle to fully develop, drink in 2016. Drink 2016-2025.- 93