Laying down a Benjamin Franklin for a Cabernet might be normal behavior for a Napa Cab, Bordeaux or Super Tuscan, but outside of the Washington State elite, spending that much on a Washington Cab has not yet infiltrated the arsenal of learned behaviors of the typical affluent wine shopper. That probably won’t change, and prestigious Washington Cabernet will have to remain the domain of the serious wine aficionado. The LEONETTI Cabernet Sauvignon from the Figgins Family, who is perhaps the First Family of Northwest wine, is the very quintessence of elite Washington wine. Long hailed as the standard bearer for Cabernet Sauvignon from the Northwest, opening a bottle is not so much about deciding how good it is but, rather, whether or not it meets extremely high expectations. To get your proper answer, you simply cannot corkscrew a bottle too early. Any less than six years after vintage would be a grave disservice. So, how is this 2008 vintage Leonetti Cab that’s been sitting patiently to be consumed?
Gorgeous. Most striking of all are the velvety smooth tannins that sumptuously coat the palate with the same comforting and fulfilling viscosity of the oils from a thick, juicy slab of pork belly. The wine’s thrillingly lengthy finish comes with a surge and fanfare, like the brass section performing Gustav Holst’s The Planets, which John Williams emulated, to use a generous word, in his score for Star Wars. Notes of underbrush, black cherry, currant, dark cacao, dried herbs and cold cuts make for a distinctive flavor profile. After seven years in the bottle, the wine has become completely integrated, not a hard edge to be found. What truly separates this Cab from a Napa or Bordeaux Cab is its unfettered quality. This is a Cabernet not tied down to any preconceived notions or dogma of what Cabernet is expected to be. The Leonetti is footloose and fancy-free. It’s running on a bold campaign of truth and authenticity—and it’s become the non-establishment frontrunner. In this political season, there’s no contest: Leonetti for president—of Washington State Cabernets. –J.M.
GREAT AMERICAN WINERY: GARY FARRELL | RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY, CALIFORNIA