Vertical tasting of Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserves


Club Torres Centro Cultural del Vi, Aribau 173, 10 November 2005
Tasting 15 wines representing a winery’s past, present and future will always be a pleasure. When dealing with Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserves and accompanied by the excellent and communicative enologist Xavier Rubires, the experience exceeds the educational.

These were the first Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlots and Chardonnays of Spain and this tasting was a fascinating opportunity to track development of the vines and wines. As the Cabernet Sauvignon matured, American oak gave way to French, stainless steel and temperature controlled fermentation replaced concrete tanks and the amount of Cabernet Franc, originally 15 % gradually decreased. The vines are now an average of 33 years old

There were changes in annual yield (200gms – 800gme/vine) and condition of the grapes but the fundamental qualities and characteristics remain surprisingly constant and this writer would find it hard not to recognize a Jean Leon. Light silky appearance with shades between red brick and black tea. Each glass was left with an abundance of fine slow legs. There’s the distinctive peppery nose with accents of cocoa often noticeable from a distance. The taste is refined with dry small dark fruit ripening to include wild strawberry.

If there was an exception it was the 1983. Climate was similar to 2005, dry winter, dry spring, dry summer, yield was down from 900gms to 200 grms /vine. Grapes were of excellent quality from a late harvest. 13ºC alcohol, huge concentration of aromas and flavour. 10% Cabernet Franc, 20 days maceration 30 months in barrica.
Colour is rich dark chocolate and carob, impenetrable, aromas of chewing tobacco, dry leaves. not oily, good acidity, flavours of truffle, dried fig, cocoa essence, original and a bit decadent.
In 1993 WINE magazine described the ‘83 Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva as one of the 8 best wines in the world.

Behind every great wine there is a great character. These wines are impregnated with the personality of Jean Leon but also with the experience and knowledge of a short list of collaborators such as Enologist, Jaume Rovira, who has been with the bodega from the start and Professor Maynard Amerine of Davis University, California, who recommended Alt Penedès and provided high tech back-up. This tasting was led by Enologist Xavier Rubires who along with Director Miguel Torres Maczassek are responsible for the future development of the winery.

The dream of Jean Leon to produce his own wines began to materialize in 1962 with the acquisition of an estate in Torrelavit in Penedès. It is clear now how well the adventure! was planned and that the results were destined to be impressive and indeed brilliant from the start.

Jean Leon Gran Reservas are characterized by their lack of haste in reaching market, being released only when the winemaker is happy with the wines evolution, an approach that would benefit many other big wines from Penedès that are being sold and consumed disappointingly early.

In the experience of some the bottle and label are as integral to the wine as its contents. The latest Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva ’97 is presented with a label by Catalan artist Antoni Tapies, titled “Bodegó”. Production is limited to 14,670 bottles of 75 cl and 25 imperials (6 litre). Price from 24 euros.

In winemaking, to make a small fortune you need to start with a large fortune and
this project must have consumed a few. It would be modest to suggest that even a very successful restaurant owner could have financed the entire dream on his own. Don’t be surprised if a host of Hollywood names, American presidents and even some Italian friends of el Padrino were included in the supporting cast.

Originally, all the wines were exported to Hollywood and sold out of the office of La Scala restaurant in Beverley Hills, Jean Leon became the star of the stars and presidents. He was their waiter and friend, their home from home.
If all this begins to sound a touch dramatic, it is and it’s real.

In 2006, a new film/documentary about Jean Leon titled 3055 will be released. Produced by Bausan Films Barcelona it will star…lots of stars.


Paddy Mannion 10/11/’05
15 Grand Reserves representing past, present and future at Jean Leon
Tasting Notes by Paddy Mannion with comments by Enologist Xavier Rubires

Professor Maynard Amerine, Davis University California,
Recommended Alt Penedès, Cabernet Sauvignon and other Classic varieties. American oak to suit young wines grown in chalky arcillious and limestone soils.
Wines began with 85% Cabernet Sauvignon + Cab Franc 15%
Cab. Franc gradually disappearsas vines age 20 + y/o
Every year Jean Leon and Jaume Rovira travelled through France tasting wines and food, picking up ideas that influenced the wines and the carte of La Scala restaurant.

Wines tasted in groups of 5

‘78
excellent appearance, dark, clear,
aroma fully intact , caramel, style already established for future Cabernets, coal, ash, dry like whiskey,
taste no fruit, aspirous, and mineral.
Enologist notes:
good evolution of colour, acids volatile, 27 years old, young wine from 12 year old vines, more acidy, nowadays maturation of skin is more studied, previously alcohol potential determined harvest, soil of uneven quality in vineyard, requiring several entryies into vineyards.
Jerez, hazelnut, dry leaves, toast is very weak, highly acid, still not unpleasant, green smells, no stainless steel, cement fermentation tanks coated with epoxy resin, no control of fermentation temperature,

‘79
aspect, ruby tone, slightly musty,
aroma, bitter smells, mushroom, tea,
taste: lighter, more fruit, still sour, liquor, softer, mineral, lovely,
Enologist notes:
5% cab Franc, longer maceration of skins, 30 days , harvest date important to get skin ready, not if pip is green and chewy. should be hard like a nut, more difficult to extract green flavours in maceration, much better ageing than 78, well covered. Very concentrated opens slowly, cherry, raisins, spices, coco, 100 % American oak, Kentucky Ohio, Closer to Pacific, oaks resemble more European oak, de Europe, 32 months in oak, instead of 24 now, tannins more round, more oily, chocolate, , will keep for more years.

‘82
aspect: clearer, more transparent and tanned, more weight in glass,
Enologist notes:
10% Cab Franc, short maceration, vine/fruit older, better judgment of harvest, Defective according to Tests in Vilafranca, 3.6ph instead of 3.2, tested in Davis University, considered perfect, first malolactic fermentation,
Better-defined style of Gran Reserva, American oak, ageing 34 months in barrels, mature red fruit, spices – American oak, -coco, French – vanilla,
Taste: sweet, tannins more evolved, rounder, affected by climate not so strong not as complex but more agreeable, drink now.

‘83
aspect: clear, oily coffee, chocolate,
Enologist notes:
similar climate as 2005, dry winter, dry spring, dry summer, yield down from 900gms /vine to 200 grms / vine this year, great quality, harvest date late, good future for this year, loads of spice on nose, animal, 13ºC alcohol, older vines more concentrated more concentration of polyphenols, aromas and flavour. 10% Cab Franc, 20 days maceration 30 months in barrica,
chew tobacco, dry leaves, round tannins, not so oily, maturity of skin much better, , good acidity and lots of flavour, truffle, soft and brown, mature fig background of cocoa essence, rich and dark, superbly original and decadent
Only fertilizer decomposed vine prunings proportion carbon and nitrogen to weak vineyard,
In 1993 WINE magazine described the ‘83 Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva as one of the 8 best Cabernet Sauvignons in the World.

‘84 terrible year no Reserva or Gran Reserva

‘85
dark, perfect aspect, still fresh fruit, cough syrup, round tannins , long in mouth, typical of wines today, still fermentation in cement tanks,

‘86, hailstones showers lasting a few minutes can target small areas of Penedès and destroy the crop. no reds this year


Second 5 wines

Beginning of change from 100% American oak – French, much slower, - American better evolution with young vines, more mature vines prefer slower oxygenation, more toast, suitable to older vines,
225 liters relation surface volume smaller more surface, 225 best

‘87
aspect: classic appearance, acid forward long aftertaste little apple,
French/American oak 80/20% vines 20 years, more integrated terroir, overmaturation of grape, spicy, vanilla from French oak, , spices retronasal, toasted,

‘90
dark covered ruby, good oilyness, fresh smells, nicotine colour, smooth, little watery but very pleasant
blackberries jam, collectors item, first year stainless steel + temperature control,
tosca, quince, more mature 26ºC

‘91
complicated year, closed climate different,
last year of American oak notice on the nose, 15% cab franc, solid vines over 20 y/o, malolactic, aromas school rubber


‘94
first year 100% French oak, 20 year + vines, sweeter, low acidy, red pepper,
long, a bit untypical of Cab Sauvignon, sweetness sign of well matured tannins

‘97
ruby, clear, dark, now on the market, 100 Cab Sav, French oak, , vermouth, spice, sugar, pepper pomegranate, , wild rose, lots of fruit, nutmeg, crema Catalana! blond tobacco, oily chewy, 13.2ºC
alcohol rises with age of vines,


‘98
still unreleased should be a bit fresh, all next five rosier, very little red brick
like 93, 800gms per vine, 14ºC, spices, tobacco, strawberry chewing gum, canella, robust, acid present, dries mouth , persistent, less tannic, 22 days maceration/fermentation at higher temperature for quicker extraction, long maceration problems of moulds that affect final ageing,

‘99,
pipe tobacco, cloves, coffee, caramel, have you ever tried a milk coffee

2000
bags of fruit, 36 y/o vines, optimum 35 – 50, n8 acres, 600gms/vine, this year 200 vine/vine
Jean Leon operates like family firm with same people working vines/picking for 40 years, experienced

‘01
more time in Barrel than bottle, toasted, lots of fruit, well balanced, grapes you would pick to eat at home, well mature healthy, acid, dry, still young,

‘03
left the barrel three weeks ago, still smells of bodega, sulfate, caramel. Solano a café con leche, , tannic, dry, raw,

2003/2004 lots of rainfall, overproduction of fruit March / April overproduction, bit watery, culling of half of fruit in June, perhaps a little late, must be before gets to size of a pea. Unbelieving workers.
As result of short year this year difficulty find a gigot to produce 4 branches.

Jean Leon Terrasola wines 2004
Terrasola range blends wines of Catalunya that have reached a particularly high level of quality and expression. Each year the composition of the 2 reds and 2 whites changes, the mission is to offer classic/familiar varieties blended with traditional Catalan varieties.
The Syrah Carinenya Terrasola red of last year was an excellent wine full of concentration, so full it took almost a day for the wine to open, clearly not the objective of accessible wines designed for immediate consumption. This years Tempranillo / Masuela leaps out of the glass with classy strong familiar aromas that Spanish wine lovers will recognize, The Masuela, tames the acidity.

White wines are Muscat & Garnatxa

Masuela requires better description of characteristics


The Centre Cultural del Vi
From January 2006, courses focusing on the world of wine and distillates, viticulture and enology, wine tasting and gastronomy will resume. Theses courses are presented in two, two hour evening sessions, usually in Spanish/Catalan. Club Torres, is located on C/Aribau 173, close to the junction with C/ Paris and a few minutes walk from the Diagonal. Cost of each 4-hour course is 50 euros per person
For more information contact: 93 200 87 63


Visitor centers
Compliments on the Jean Leon visitor centre. The fresh open architecture leads the eye to the vineyards. There is a display of wines and gifts; one of the favorites is the “meter” of wine, a handsome box with three vintages of grand reserve end to end. A short video presentation gives an effective introduction to the legend. There is a small gallery of photos of the main character next door with awards the wines have received, studies of the geological structure of the vineyards and a display of exceptional and historic bottles. A pleasant walk to the bodega, barrel room and bottle store passes a small experimental vineyard. The Tasting room, like the reception is minimalist with views of the vineyards to compliment the wines.
Visitor centers are about customer loyalty, there’s little point in promoting a wine if the visitor can’t buy it back home. Address of nearest distributor is on the receipt and detailed technical information is available in a host of languages.


Goodbye to the hour long walk around the winery
Pacs visitor centre, too much trains, tunnel of sensations or video! industrial image of tanks, not enough flow through bodega, should be more intimate – small – romantic.
I anticipate change in the direction of the American model. Wineries will have an open plan atrium “tasting room” with display of products and method of elaboration all together. Static displays will be complimented by video and touch screen info centers.

Note to Miguel
Some small details that could use a bit of work
Presentation English??? Use of “flagship wine” for reserva,
Zemis =new flagship
Spanglish, business with a future cute or impractical? I recommend Conor Kennedy do the copy (thoroughbred stallions are his speciality)

A variety of people from all around the globe, friends and girl friends, give their impressions and stories behind the story.

Barbara Rush, had the distinction of being the first client at La Scala restaurant.
first customer
Rambles paper figures
Irish woman

Dennis Hooper

He wanted to be famous a star to the stars
Patience
All his Chinese girlfriends
He liked women
3055 name of yacht leaving Hollywood, escaping

This coming year



It is also clear that the future is in very good hands and introducing the next generation enologist. Xavier Rubires


And the replanting of the whole estate with the Rolls Royce of vines from Classic French estates

Josep Roca, Miguel Torres, Albert Fornos
1969 first Cab Sav. Gran Reserva
83 Jean Leon Cab Sav year? Considered one of the 8 best wines in the world


behind a wine is a person

74, (2002) wet rot

78
aspect: excellent, dark, clear,
aroma:, fully intact , caramel, style already established as with all Jean Leon, coal, ash, dry like whiskey, no fruit, aspirous, mineral.
good evolution of colour, acids volatile, 27 years old, young wine from 12 year old vines, more acidy, nowadays maturation of skin is more studied, then alcohol potential determined, soil of uneven quality in vineyard, Jerez, hazelnut, dry leaves, toast is very weak, highly acid, still not unpleasant, , green smells, no stainless steel, cement, epoxy, difficult to control temperature,

79 similar aspect, slightly musty, bitter smells, mushroom, tea, lighter than first, , more fruit, still sour, liquor, softer, mineral

5% cab Franc, longer maceration of skins, 30 days , lovely, harvest date important to get skin ready, pip green , should be like a nut, more difficult to extract green flavours in maceration, much better ageing than 78, well covered, very concentrated opens slowly, cherry, raisins, spices, coco, 100 % American oak, Kentucky Ohio, more pacific, oaks eastern, de Europe, 32 months in oak, instead of 24 now, tannins more round, more oily, chocolate, , keep more years

82 clearer, more transparent and tanned, , more weight in glass,
10% cab franc, short maceration, fruit older, better judgment of harvest, 12.5 % defective, 3.6 instead of 3.2, ph, tested in Davis University, first malolactic fermentation,
Better-defined style of Gran Reserva, American oak, ageing 34 months in barrels, mature red fruit, spices – American oak, -coco, French – vanilla,
paso de boca, sweet, tannins more evolved, more round, affected by climate not so strong not as complex but more agreeable, drink now

83 clear, oily coffee, chocolate, prize best in world, same climate as this year, dry winter, dry spring, dry summer, 900gms //vine – 200 grms / vine this year, great quality, harvest date late, good future for this year, loads of spice on nose, animal, 13ºC alcohol, older vines more concentrated more concentration polyphenolic, 10% cab franc, 20 days maceration 30 months barrels, chew tobacco, dry leaves round tannins, not so oily, maturity of skin much better, , good acidity and lots of flavour, truffle, soft and brown, mature fig background of essence of cocoa rich and dark, superbly original and a tad decadent
carbon and nitrogen to weak vineyard,

84 terrible year no Reserva or Gran
86, hailstones no reds
85 dark, perfect aspect, still fresh fruit, cough syrup, round tannins , long in mouth, typical of wines today, fermentation cement,

change oak 100% American – French, much slower, young vines - American better evolution, more mature vines slower oxygenation, more toasted more suitable to older vines,

225 liters relation surface volume smaller more surface, 225 best


87 classic aspect acid forward long aftertaste little apple, French/American 20% vines 20 years more integrated terroir, overmaturation of grape, spicy, vanilla French oak, , spices retronasal, toasted,

90 dark covered ruby, good oilyness, fresh smelllots of nicotine colour, smooth little watery but very pleasant
Jam blackberries, collectors item, stainless steel, temperature control, membrillo/quince, and more mature 26ºC

91 complicated, closed climate different, last year of American oak notice on the nose, 15% cab franc, solid vines over 20 y/o, malolactic, school rubber

94 first year 100% French oak, 20 year old vines, sweeter, no acidy, red pepper,
long, a bit untypical, of Cab Saves, sweetness sign of well mature tannins

97 ruby, clear, dark, actually on the market, 100 cab sav, French oak, , vermouth, spice, sugar, pepper pomenagranate, , wild rose, lots of fruit, nutmeg, crema catalana, blond tobacco, oily chewy, 13.2ºC alcohol rises with age of vines,


98 still unreleased should be a bit fresh, all next five rosier, and very little red brick
like 93 800gms per vine, 14ºC, spices, tobacco, strawberry chewing gum, canella, robust, acid present, dry mouth , persistent, low tannic, 22 days maceration at higher temperature quicker extraction, long maceration problems of moulds that affect final ageing,

99, pipe tobacco, cloves, coffee, caramel, have you ever tried a milk coffee of

2000 much more fruit, 36 y/o vines, optimum 35 – infinity, n8 acres, 600gms/vine, this year 200 gems JL like family firm same people working for 40 years experienced 2003/2004 lots of rainfall overproduction of fruit March / April overproduction, bit watery, culling of half of fruit Junio, a little late, before gets to size of a pea.,
as result of short year this year difficulty fiond a gigot to produce 4 shoots (must visit)
2001 more time in Barrel than bottle, toasted, Lots of fruit, well balanced, which grapes would you pick to eat at home, well mature healthy, acid, dry, still young,

three weeks ago the 2003 left the barrel, still smells of bodega, sulfate, caramel Solano a café con leche, , tannic, dry, raw,