Leo Steen Wines
2007 WO Vineyards - 'Block 40' Syrah
Syrah •Windsor Oaks Vineyards - 'Block 40'
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: The ‘Sommelier Print’
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Investigate and confirm the rumors that Leo Steen produces an exceptional Syrah.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Leo Steen Wines
Wine Subject: 2007 Russian River Valley WO Vineyard – “Block 40” Syrah
Winemaker: Leo Hansen
Today’s wine comes to us from the Windsor Oak Vineyard which is located in the Russian River Valley AVA and the Chalk Hill AVA. Of the 700 or so acres about 250 acres is under vine and it is well known that tremendous research has gone into planting each varietal in its ideal location on the vineyard. Currently there are over 50 specific blocks dedicated to producing the finest premium grapes for their wine and on a limited basis other wineries as is the case with today’s selection. ‘Block 40’ is planted with the Estrella River Clone of Syrah, known for its aromatics and strawberry and blueberry notes, and is located in the northeast corner of the vineyard.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep and dense purple and almost black with a dark inky core. The color remains dense to the very edge and when swirled, randomly spaced initially thick legs thin as then slowly descend to the wine below.
Smell – Bold and aromatic with notes of ripe black and blue fruit including wild blackberry, blueberry, and plum are integrated with balanced notes of smokey oak, floral violets and a touch of pepper.
Feel – This full-bodied wine is dry and rich with silky smooth tannins that hang a solid grip, add to lively acidity and a touch of earthy dark minerality makes this wine almost chewy as it coats the palate.
Taste – Fruit forward, but not overbearing, with rich and dense dark and black fruit and specific wild blackberry, raspberry, and plum meld with classic but soft pepper, smokey oak and vanilla and subtle dark mineral and earthy components.
Finish – Long with lingering dark early and smokey berries gently fade leaving the textural character of the tannins, acidity and minerality on the palate.
Conclusion – If you love rich Syrah, the the 2007 Leo Steen Wines Russian River Valley WO Vineyard – “Block 40” Syrah is perfect. Fruit forward, yes, not not so much that you lose the subtle complexity of earthy, spicy, smokey and minerality underneath. Balanced in its feel, rich in its aromas and flavors and long in its finish. California Syrah through and through with hints of complexity and finesse that you’d expect from a fine northern Rhone Hermitage or Côte-Rôtie.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Leo. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 WO Vineyards – ‘Block 40’ Syrah today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
LEO HANSEN: I’m happy to show this limited production wine to such great wine spies.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
LEO: As a young wine student apprentice in Denmark I worked under Farmamm who was preparing for the Sommelier World Cup. This created a passion for the love of wine and has evolved into winemaking.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
LEO: Wines with soul that are true to their roots. Meaning site specific
RED: Who do you make wine for?
LEO: I like to make wine for people interested in the enjoyment of food and wine in a balanced harmony
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
LEO: Todays wine is made for long aging and will continue to develop in the bottle.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
LEO: This wine will pair well with an array of hearty dishes such as grilled lamb chops and fennel.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Windsor Oaks Vineyard so special?
LEO: This region is special due to a combination of the unique soils, climate, and higher elevation.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
LEO: My 2009 Chenin Blanc is in the bottle and the young reds are resting in the barrels. My time is focused on my day job at Stuhlmuller Vineyards where I am blending and getting ready for bottling in the up coming months.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
LEO: As mentioned this wine will only improve over time, however, if you spies can’t wait decant before enjoying.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
LEO: Only 114 cases of this wine was produced so this is something you won’t find in your average wine store.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the “Block 40” on the Windsor Oak Vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Intense inky purple color. Aromas of blackberry, dark plum, licorice and lavender. The palate is creamy with blacks fruits hints of smoke and Violets. The wine has aged worthy tannins and acidity for long bottle aging.
This wine is made for long aging and will keep developing in the bottle for years to come, so decanting is highly recommend before serving.
This Syrah Vineyard from Windors Oaks is often referred to as the “Summit Block”. This vineyard is planted to the Esrella River Clone in volcanic soil at 900 feet elevation. Unfined and unfiltered.
VISION: With respect for this ancient variety I feel that this site is a great match to produce wine in an “old fashioned” way and is made to compliment an array of heartier dishes.
VINEYARD: Windsor Oaks Vineyards, block 40, Russian River Valley. This block also called the “summit block” was planted in 1997 with Estrella River clone on a South-facing slope at 900 feet elevation. The iron rich well drained basalt and obsidian rock soil has pockets of chalk hill volcanic white ash. In this rocky volcanic soil the vines are driven deep in search for water and mineral nutrients making this a low vigor site with a great balance
between fruit and foliage.
CELLAR NOTES: Traditionally fermented with “pigeage” using the native yeast in an open top fermenter, whereas 50% was whole clusters. Pressed at complete dryness after 22 days on the skin, before drained to French oak. The aging was in 100% French oak using used barrels to showcase the indigenous site and rustiness of the wine. The wine was racked once during the 20 month of cellaring and bottled without fining or filtration July 2009.
About The Winery:
The ‘Sommelier Print’ on the label is symbolic of the long days and nights that I worked during the 2004 harvest. From pushing down bins of fruit in the early morning, to surveying vineyards in the afternoon, to purchasing wine for the wine list, to working as a sommelier at night – it was a time that encompassed a full ‘wine’ circle.
My dark purple wine stained hands were a contestant reminder of these many intense hours of perfecting my craft. It only seemed appropriate that I would utilize the color in my wine label.
My passion for wine with the support from friends and family have made this wine possible – a wonderful journey come full circle.
About The Winemaker:
Leo Hansen, Winemaker – Born and raised in Denmark, Leo Hansen has been passionate about food and wine all his life. The son of a chef and hotelier, Leo grew up in the service industry, helping in his father’s kitchen from the age of 12. In 1992, after completing a degree in business sales and marketing at Denmark’s Grenna College, Leo began studying at the Kolding Hotel and Restaurant School. During a rigorous four-year apprenticeship, Leo worked with Orla Farmann, renowned European sommelier and national champion for the Danish Sommelier World Cup Team. Under the tutelage of Farmann, Leo’s palate and love of wine developed, and he began studying wine in earnest.
In 1997, after extensive study and travels throughout the great winegrowing regions of Europe, including Loire, Alsace, Champagne, Burgundy, Spain and Italy, Leo received his certification as a European sommelier. That year, he became wine director at the famed Kong Hans restaurant, Copenhagen’s first one star Michelin guide restaurant. After a trip to California to scout out new selections for Kong Hans’s 400-wine list, Leo was inspired to take the next step in his wine education.
Impressed by the freedom and quality of California’s vibrant wine scene, Leo moved to Sonoma County and took an apprenticeship at Clos du Bois to study winemaking firsthand. There, he worked in the vineyards and the cellar before being moved to the laboratory to begin doing enology. In 2000, Leo accepted a position at Chateau Souverain, and also began taking courses in chemistry, viticulture and winemaking at Santa Rosa Junior College. After a three-month stint in 2001 working for Bowen Estate winery in Coonawarra, Australia, Leo returned to Chateau Souverain where he continued refining his scientific skills in the lab.
Having worked with Stuhlmuller’s excellent single vineyard fruit at both Clos du Bois and Chateau Souverain, Leo was thrilled when offered the position of cellar master at Stuhlmuller Vineyards in 2002. Showing an aptitude in all areas of viticulture and winemaking, Leo quickly made himself indispensable working alongside winemaker Kerry Damskey. In January of 2003, Leo was officially made assistant winemaker and began overseeing day-to-day operations. Thriving in the hands-on environment of a family-run winery, Leo showed a gift for blending his classically trained European palate, with his understanding of the depth and character of Stuhlmuller’s vineyard-focused wines.
In 2004, Leo was appointed winemaker for Stuhlmuller Vineyards. Taught to appreciate the relationship between wine, food and people, Leo works to craft authentic and engaging wines. “I love the intimacy of working in a small winery,” says Leo. “You get to discover the charm and subtleties of each vineyard block. This is an amazing vineyard. As a winemaker, I try to show it respect with a gentle approach that focuses more on natural yeasts and less on oak. The goal isn’t to speak for the vineyard, it’s to let the vineyard speak for itself.”
Production: 114 cases
Release date: March 2010
Harvest date: October 4th
Bottling date: July 2009