Tenuta San Leonardo, San Leonardo, 1995
Tenuta San Leonardo, San Leonardo, 1995
- Red Still
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Merlot
After banging the drum for the Guerrieri Gonzaga family’s remarkable (and remarkably consistent) Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend for the last fifteen years, we relish each new endorsement and instance of critical appreciation and Jancis’ is the just the latest in a long line of articles from major critics. As a reminder...
The wines of San Leonardo are more akin to Bordeaux than Bolgheri with their balance and purity and (said the late and greatly respected Italian specialist Nicolas Belfrage) "can have an elegance-cum-depth capable of taking on the best clarets of the world". Jancis clearly agrees, noting latterly the wine’s “astoundingly consistent quality” and how each vintage is “beautifully low-key and like the most refined red bordeaux imaginable”, determining it is "Surely the most successful Bordeaux blend of Northern Italy”.
The Wine Advocate’s Monica Larner calls it “… one of the great wines of Italy… Sassicaia and San Leonardo seem like brothers separated in childhood” after James Suckling had previously made the comparison referring to San Leonardo as “The Sassicaia of the North”. The comparison is more than skin deep as San Leonardo’s owner Marchese Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga, a rare example (at the time) of a professionally-trained aristocrat-oenologist, spent time at Tenuta San Guido back in the 1960s helping create Sassicaia with legendary consultant, Giacomo Tachis, whom he subsequently employed at his own estate. The estate has received the top ‘Tre Bicchiere’ rating from Gambero Rosso for an unprecedented seventeen vintages, and has twice been voted by aggregate Italy’s top wine release of the year (jointly with Sassicaia, to continue the comparison).
Antonio Galloni weighs in saying “The Guerrieri Gonzaga’s are one of the great families of Italian wine. Over the years, the Guerrieri Gonzaga’s have produced a number of stellar Bordeaux-influenced reds at San Leonardo, many of which I have had the privilege to taste.” Meanwhile his colleague at Vinous, Eric Guido, after a 28-vintage vertical, says “If you enjoy classic Bordeaux, if you enjoy the energy and verve of Italian wine, and if you crave experiencing history in a bottle, then you should seek out Tenuta San Leonardo”. He also concludes “I frankly don’t remember the last time I found so much pleasure in tasting for hours on end”.
"One of my personal favourite Italian wines, unquestionably the top winery in the region and renowned as one of the most consistent – stylistically and qualitatively – in the whole of Italy, YET its wines remain extremely well-priced by comparison to more widely publicised names."
Tom Harrow, Honest Grapes Wine Director
What the critics say:
"From another very sunny and dry vintage, the 1995 San Leonardo is an excellent wine with enormous power, intensity and determination. This edition shows muscle and brawn with dark cherry and blackberry followed by spice, leather and tobacco. The wine shows bold structure and a compact build with tannins that are firm and structured. San Leonardo has not completed its evolution and still offers youthful points of bright fruit. It can withstand a longer decanting period of three hours or more and will continue to age well for more years to come."
"The 1995 is a stunning, super-classic rendition of San Leonardo. The 1995 shows dried wild berries complemented by peppery herbs, geraniums and mint, plus hints of moist earth and floral undergrowth. It's focused and poised, as cool-toned, sour red and black fruits are perfectly framed by saline-minerality and then punctuated by an enlivening thrust of brisk acids. Still lightly structured, yet pleasing on every level, the wine exhibit a bit of its evolution through hints of prune, sometimes plum and a lingering note of tobacco and sous-bois. This was another dry year for San Leonardo. The harvest benefited from a sunny and balanced autumn. If you have the 1995 in your cellar, then it's worth checking on it now, though there are many more years of development to be seen. (June-2020)"