High Expectations: 2006 Guerrieri Gonzaga – San Leonardo

San Leonardo is a red wine from the Trentino-Alto Adige region in Italy which has been recommended to me by friends and fellow wine lovers alike. Some praised it as one of the best Italian reds. Others described it to me as mind-blowing. So my expectations were obviously quite high. Were they met? Below are my thoughts on San Leonardo, vintage 2006.

My “San Leonardo experience” started a couple of months ago when I was planing to uncork a bottle of 2006 San Leonardo together with a friend. We both were excited but unfortunately the wine corked and so we settled for a Brunello instead on that evening, returned the bottle and postponed our San Leonardo tasting.

Last week, we met again to finally drink that bottle of San Leonardo. This time the bottle was clean and we were both relieved.

San Leonardo is produced and bottle by Guerrieri Gonzaga, a winery based in Broghetto, a small village about 50 km south of Trento. The winery was founded in 1724. Guerrieri Gonzaga is an old Italian Noble House. The winery makes four reds and one white wine, all from international grape varieties.  San Leonardo, a red Bordeaux blend, is their flagship wine. Its first vintage was 1982 and it is only produced in favorable vintages. The winery is commonly known as Tenuta San Leonardo.

San Leonardo

The blend has changed multiple time over the years. In 1982, it was 60% Carmenere, 30% Merlot & 10% Cabernet Sauvignon whereas more recent vintages, including the 2006 vintage which I tasted, are a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Carmenere & 10% Merlot. The vines have an age of 20-50 years and harvest takes place in September and October.

After the fermentation, San Leonardo ages for about two months in cement casks, followed by 18-24 months in new and used barrique barrels.

One of the aspects which wine critics highlight when talking about San Leonardo is its great aging potential. 20 years+ is no problem for San Leonardo. The winery has uploaded a useful sheet of how they rate the vintages on their website with recommendations on aging potential, decanting time and overall quality.

2006 is considered by a number of wine critics like Antonio Galloni to be one of the very best San Leonardo vintages yet.

Tasting Notes: 2006 San Leonardo

The bottle was opened about three hours before drinking it; the wine was not decanted.

2006 San LeonardoIn the glass, San Leonardo had a deep garnet red color. The nose was complex, intense and balanced between fruit and oak aromas: Tobacco leaves, a bit of cinnamon, lots of red cherries and blueberries, cedar wood, licorice and leather, are easily identified. It has so many layers that it takes a few moments to fully appreciate it. 13.5% is the label listed alcohol by volume.

On the palate, dry with a relatively strong but still balanced acidity. San Leonardo has ripe, smooth tannins and is a bit earthy. Very elegant and juicy. The wine remains complex in the mouth just as much as it was on the nose. Notes of dark chocolate, spices, a touch of coffee and some dark fruit like raspberries and blackcurrant. San Leonardo has a great personality. Full-bodied with a lingering aftertaste.

4.5 / 5 stars      

Find it on Wine Searcher

The 2006 San Leonardo retails in Munich for €45+. Its appellation is Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT.

Talking About Expectations

So where my expectations met? I guess that depends. Wine is very subjective. One of my colleagues described San Leonardo as “one of the 10 very best Italian reds” he ever tried. Others I spoke to praised the wine in similar ways.

No doubt, San Leonardo is an excellent, cold-climate wine. I underlined this by my 4.5 star rating. However, I probably disagree with my colleague, a certified sommelier from Bulgaria, who rated San Leonardo as one of the 10 very best Italian reds.

What I can say is that San Leonardo is worth trying. It’s a wonderful expression of the terroir and the grape varieties.

Guerrieri Gonzaga’s website suggests to keep the wine in the cellar for some more years but I found it very accessible now.

At VinItaly, I had the opportunity to taste some of Guerrieri Gonzaga’s other wines, including a varietal Carmenere which is only bottled in magnum bottles. Impressive wines. The most San Leonardo vintage (2008) was too closed when I tasted it at the trade fair.

Not familiar with Vino in Love’s rating policy? No problem: It’s all explained here

That’s all for today. Cheers!

Update: There was an error in sending out e-mail notifications for this post. I apologise in advance if you received no or multiple e-mail notifications for this post.

6 comments on “High Expectations: 2006 Guerrieri Gonzaga – San Leonardo”

  1. Andy Andy Reply

    Never heard of this wine and to be honest I am not that fond of Italian Cabernet. Had bad experiences in the past. Cabernet grows best in Napa.

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Well San Leonardo is not a varietal Cabernet. Since I haven’t tasted that many wines from Napa I cannot really comment on whether they make the best Cabs or not 🙂 I tried a Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet some time ago which was spectacular.

  2. Michelle Williams Reply

    It sounds like a lovely wine! I am glad you finally were able to try it. Expectations are tough with wine because often more than the wine itself contributes to our love of it. For example, friends, food pairing, location, etc. It sounds like you did enjoy it; perhaps just not quite as much as you had hoped. Cheers!

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Thanks for stopping by, Michelle! I agree with yo that expectations can be tough with wine. San Leonardo is lovely and I’ll definitely rebuy this wine. Cheers!

  3. Espressito Reply

    San Leonardo is a great winery. The Carmenre is my favorite but San Leonardo is close. I’d give both wines 95+ points without a doubt.

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Thanks for commenting, Espressito! I only tasted their Carmenere at VinItaly once. Tasted good but I don’t remember the wine in detail. I need to get my hands on a bottle in order to properly drink and review it. Cheers!

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