Evolution.  The gradual development of something; especially from a simple to a more complex form.  Perhaps no single word in the English language better describes the transformation from grape to wine and that’s true all the more when applying it to the existence of San Leonardo.

Almost a year ago I tasted through San Leonardo’s range of wines in preparation for the Feature Article I penned on this wonderful estate.  It was a yarn filled with momentous anecdotes of hilarity   and significance from across centuries of European history; to which Tenuta San Leonardo not only bore witness, but was an active participant.   Today, we’re focusing on the vinous evolution of the estate’s eponymous premier wine.

~ “Under snow there is bread, under rain there is hunger” ~

Created in 1982, San Leonardo is the brain child of the renowned “Father” of premium Italian wine, Giacomo Tachis.  From 1982 to 1987, in the years San Leonardo was produced, the wine was awarded Due Bicchieri from Gambero Rosso.  Since 1988, the wine has received Tre Bicchieri status each time it has been produced. Evolution.

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot,  the fruit is meticulously selected from vineyards that range in age from 20-50 years old.  Produced in the way Giacomo Tachis envisioned,  San Leonardo is consistently spectacular.  First matured in cement tanks, the wine is then transferred to new and used barriques for 18-24 months followed by an additional year in bottle before release.
~ Carlo Ferrini, a major consulting winemaker throughout Italy ~

In the mid 1990’s when Giacomo Tachis was thinking of reducing his duties, he mentioned a potential successor, a “rising, brilliant, exponent” that could continue the excellence that was now common for San Leonardo.  Since 1999,  the helming of San Leonardo overseen by Carlo Ferrini.  Evolution.

Recently, with seared and baked karobuta pork chops over a bed of broccoli rabe, we checked in on the 2008 San Leonardo.  
The 2008 is deep ruby in color and was decanted for almost  60 minutes prior to dinner.  As with our prior tasting, no sediment was removed.  The aromas from this aristocratic wine feature red and black plums, dried fennel seed, alpine needles, cedar, and tobacco. It’s wonderfully complex to smell.
On the palate, the primary core of flavors revolve around red plums, licorice, soft cedar notes and spices that seemingly alternate between sweet vanilla and savory, powdery pepper.  Evolution. 
The balance between acids and tannins is nearly perfect and while this wine shows well right now, I continue to believe that it has much more complexity to offer.  My remaining bottles will remain in the cellar and my next report on San Leonardo will be from an older vintage in the form of a CellarNote.  95 points, about $60.

~ The 2008 San Leonardo is the most recent vintage of the wine released to the market. The wine was not produced in 2009. ~


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