Available At: Highlander North Hill and Willow Park Wine and Spirits in Calgary. Vines of Riverbend in Edmonton
Assessed By: Adrian Bryksa
If you dig deep into the story of Jean Leon you’ll find a history of a self made man who built a reputation on service, loyalty and discretion. It would only make sense too that this man would be responsible for perhaps the first plantings international vine varieties like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon in an area of Spain known for Grenache, Syrah and Monastrell. It is from these initial plantings of Cabernet that the team from Torres, led by Mireia Torres Maczassek brings us the 2003 Jean Leon Vinya La Scala Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva. This wine has been in production since 1969 and is the flagship of the Jean Leon line. It comes from a single vineyard, dubbed La Scala after Jean Leon’s Beverly Hills restaurant he co-founded with James Dean. It comes from 50 year old Cabernet vines and sees 2 years in French oak and 3 years of bottle age before being released from the winery.
Eyes: Medium body with a ruby core.
Nose: Good complexity with notes of black currant, stewed plum, tobacco with graphite / pencil lead. Just the nose on this wine could have it confused with a cru classed Bordeaux from Paulliac.
Palate: Beautifully balanced and pure varietal expression. Lightly dusted black currants carry this wine with its pin point acidity and elegant tannins. 2003 was a very hot vintage across Europe with many wines incurring balance issues in terms of ripeness and alcohol levels. Not in this case however as great care was put into vineyard management and harvesting.
Conclusion: 11 years on, the 2003 Jean Leon Gran Reserva is entering a drinking phase that will easily last for the next 20 years. While some might eschew its old world simplicity, I think that its elegance and grace differentiate it from other Gran Reservas in its category. For fans of Bordeaux and old world Cabernet in general, this will be a wine for you. Drink now and over the next 20 years.
If you liked this review, check out the review of the 2004 Chateau Margaux