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  Editorial Issue 161, April 2017   
San Leonardo: the Elegance of a Great Italian MythSan Leonardo: the Elegance of a Great Italian Myth  Contents 
Issue 160, March 2017 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 162, May 2017

San Leonardo: the Elegance of a Great Italian Myth


 Since the times I started getting into wine - a little more than twenty-five years ago - there has always been one which had, and still has, a special and privileged place in my preferences. It is a great wine that, in the course of its history, has always been capable of surprising both for its class and elegance, an absolute wonder, one the great prides of Italian wine making: San Leonardo. A masterpiece created by the “Tenuta” having the same name located in Trentino - at Borghetto all'Adige of Avio - a wine of remarkable prestige and acclaimed both in Italy and in the world. One of the few Italian wines capable of competing - and winning - with the greatest wines of the world. San Leonardo undoubtedly is an extraordinary wine making success bringing the signature of Marquess Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga, of his far-sightedness and the will to make a masterpiece of impeccable quality. A magnificent wine of incredible constancy proving, vintage after vintage, excellence without compromises.


 

 The first time I knew about Tenuta San Leonardo was by reading one of my dearest books about wine - Vino al Vino - in which the author, the many-sided Mario Soldati, wrote about his visit at the winery of Borghetto all'Adige. He narrated the conversation he had with Marquess Anselmo Guerrieri Gonzaga - father of Marquess Carlo - in such an evocative way it was impossible not to be enchanted by those words. In that narration it is easy to understand the nobleness of those places and people who are perpetuating their history: since 1724 the Guerrieri Gonzaga family is making wines in these places and since those times they were known for their excellence. To that should also be added the writings by Luigi Veronelli - the famous Italian wine writer - about San Leonardo wine, including what at those times was called “Cabernet Trentino San Leonardo”, as well as the Marquesses Guerrieri Gonzaga's estate. I have always read or heard the highest praises for the wines made at Tenuta San Leonardo, always mentioned as examples of wines of prestige, class and elegance.



 Many years will pass before I can finally pour in my glass the superb elegance of San Leonardo, vintage 1996, created by the great Giacomo Tachis. That moment - happened in a restaurant at the end of 1990s - is clearly indelible in my mind. An elegance and finesse like magic, a perfect symphony of aromas with an impeccable balance, an endless finish capable of leaving in the mouth - intense and indelible - the excellence of a divine nectar. That San Leonardo, that vintage 1996, fully confirmed the wonders I had read or heard from those privileged ones who could taste this wine. At those times, talking about sensorial tasting, my experience and skill was clearly modest and limited - to tell the truth, I think the very same even today - and that San Leonardo has clearly been a milestone for the future of my tasting skill, becoming a solid and indisputable mark. In the course of the years, San Leonardo has always been capable of proving and confirming its indisputable fame: vintage after vintage, its charm and class are always a guarantee of constant excellence.

 The history of San Leonardo is as charming as its noble sensorial richness. This magnificent wine was born from the talent, intuition and passion of Marquees Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga: he believed his land was capable of making high quality wines. San Leonardo is also the result of the work of many people, their vision and skill, as well as a great territory, of course. Including the great wine maker Giacomo Tachis and, not less important, wine maker Carlo Ferrini - who is still leading wine production at Tenuta San Leonardo - as well as cellar master Luigino Tinelli. The young Marquees Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga, after having studied wine making at Lausanne, travels a lot and gets to Tenuta San Guido where, together with Marquees Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, becomes passionate about Bordeaux wines. He believed the family estate - San Leonardo - was a land capable of expressing the highest excellence, just like Bordeaux, at those times considered as the main worldwide reference point for quality wines.

 1982 was the year in which San Leonardo, the way we know it today, was officially released: a refined interpretation of a Bordeaux blend and fruit of the magic combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc - which later was discovered to be Carménère - and Merlot. The magic of this wine was also possible to the talent and knowledge of Giacomo Tachis - the greatest of all Italian wine makers - who made this wine until 1999. The next year it is the turn of another talented Italian wine maker - Carlo Ferrini - who is still the author of this Italian excellence. Marquees Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga - a real gentleman with genuinely noble and refined manners who I have the honor and privilege to know - has always supervised the agronomic and wine making aspects of the estate, supported by Luigino Tinelli, irreplaceable soul of Tenuta San Leonardo. The family tradition has been passed to his son Marquees Anselmo Guerrieri Gonzaga who received from the father - besides the passion for wine and family estate - the very same and genuinely noble and polite manners. Last but not the least, the fate of perpetuating the magnificence of a wine of absolute excellence like San Leonardo.

 The occasion to talk about San Leonardo - I am sure you understood this is a wine for which I have a complete passion and admiration - was offered to me by Marquees Anselmo Guerrieri Gonzaga. Some time ago I in fact received a mail from him in which he was noting San Leonardo 2000 was missing in our Guide and he was therefore inviting us to taste and review it. To such an invitation, of course, follows my absolute interest and few days later we received a sample of San Leonardo 2000, the first vintage made by Carlo Ferrini. As for the result of the tasting, I invite our readers to take a look at our Guide: San Leonardo 2000 easily conquered our five diamonds and the title of best wine for March 2017. A surprising wine having its usual elegance and finesse, impeccably sumptuous, in a perfect balance between the character of tannins and the pleasing roundness, well supported by an agreeable and lively crispness. It does not have the power of more robust vintages - such as 2001 - however it is a surprising wine for its complex robe of olfactory richness and sensorial elegance. A great wine which does not seem to be seventeen. After all, ladies and gentlemen, it simply is San Leonardo, an exciting wine of the heart always capable of surprising for its elegance and the perfection of the impeccable class made of refined and inimitable balance.

Antonello Biancalana






   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 161, April 2017   
San Leonardo: the Elegance of a Great Italian MythSan Leonardo: the Elegance of a Great Italian Myth  Contents 
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