2019 Leo Steen Chenin Blanc 'Peaberry'
Region: Ukiah < Mendocino County < CA
Grapes: Chenin Blanc
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming, dry-farming; old vines on Pinole gravelly loam soils soils; 76% whole cluster pressed to tank for cold settling, and 24% de-stemmed. The pressed juice was racked to neutral French oak barrels for fermentation and the de-stemmed portion was fermented in puncheon then spent 10 days on the skins before racking and light pressing using a basket press; aged for five months with complete spontaneous malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels; bottled unfined/unfiltered with zero added SO2; 12% ABV; 300 cases
Winemaker: Leo Hansen
A Sonoma local now, Leo Hansen of Leo Steen Wines was a Somm in Denmark before coming to Healdsburg to somm at Dry Creek Kitchen and Cyrus in the early aughts. He brings that well-honed sommelier palate, as well as the consumer perspective, to his own label, in which he focuses on the grape closest to his heart: Chenin Blanc. So, naturally he makes 3 different Chenin wines, including this racy Peaberry – named for the teeny-tiny size of the berries, so small that they don’t even bunch. Baby peas!
This wine comes from a vineyard located in the Southern-eastern hills of Ukiah. Planted in the mid-1970s on a gentle slope, the sites old Chenin Blanc vines yield tiny, beautifully concentrated berries. This is a pure, linear expression of the Chenin Blanc grape, with vivid green apple, apricot, mint and lemon peel mingling with a salty almond thing. There's a touch of creaminess on the palate but the finish is all about tension and acidity.
Here's what Leo has to say: "I have long been fascinated by the sleek and elegant Chenin variety. Our Peaberry Chenin Blanc is my version of a natural wine. Picked at very low Brix, it is a rustic, low alcohol expression of the grape that will pair beautifully with an array of cuisines." Which is why you need this for your holiday gatherings - it's such an elegant and versatile food wine that works with everything and everyone.