Winery Jean Leon | Spanish Wine Lover

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Located at the very heart of the Penedès region in Catalonia, this is the first winery in the appellation to have achieved the Vino de Finca status, equivalent to a grand cru. Part of the Family Torres wine group., the château model established by the founder has been painstakingly preserved to the present day. All the vineyards are perfectly demarcated, each one with its own name. With vines on gentle slopes surrounded by forests, the property stands on a vantage point overlooking one of the less spoiled areas in Penedès.

The wines pay tribute to the founder. Born in Santander, Ceferino Carrión emigrated to the US where he changed his name to Jean Leon. Soon after, he opened a restaurant in Hollywood, named La Scala, together with actor James Dean. The place became very popular with film stars like Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando or Fred Astaire and Jean Leon eventually decided to make his own wine. He bought a 150-hectare estate in Penedès where he planted French grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chardonnay. He is considered to be behind the first single-varietal Cabernet Sauvignon ever made in Spain (1969 vintage). The few remaining bottles of that wine and subsequent years rest in the new wine library built next to the aging room.

Currently 62 hectares of vines are organically grown in the estate yielding 300,000 kilos on a standard year. Soils are mainly chalky with variable quantities of stones on the surface. “Vino de Finca” wines are named after the vineyards they come from, most of which refer to Jean Leon’s life. Named after his daughter, Vinya Gigi is a barrel-fermented Chardonnay (around €19 in Spain, between 12,000 and 18,000 bottles); Vinya Le Havre (€20, between 24,000 and 32,000 bottles) takes its name from the port where Leon set sail to the US. This is the winery’s flagship wine made mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon and a bit of Cabernet Franc. Vinya Palau (€19, between 12,000 and 18,000 bottles) is a single-vineyard Merlot while Vinya La Scala (€38, 12,000 bottles) is the premium wine. Named after Jean Leon’s restaurant in Beverly Hills, it comes from the oldest plot planted in 1963 and it is only produced in outstanding vintages.

The 3055 range, named after Jean Leon’s taxi license number when he worked as driver in New York, includes an unoaked Chardonnay (around 150,000 bottles), a Pinot Noir rosé (100,000 bottles) and a versatile blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot partially aged in oak for two months with similar availability. Retail price for these wines, which are not necessarily made with grapes grown in the Jean Leon property, stand around €11 in Spain.

A new range of experimental wines was launched in the 2015 vintage. So far, single varietal wines from Xarel.lo, Sumoll and Cabernet Franc have been made. Quantities are limited and stand below 2,000 bottles with retailing prices ranging from €14 to €18. True to its experimental basis, the wines are not produced on every vintage. The innovative packaging is inspired on the chalk marks written on the bottles during the aging process. The striking labels are tied around the bottle neck -and have the advantage that they are not damaged when placed in ice buckets.

Jean Leon is a leading name in terms of wine tourism in the Penedès area. The winery offers a wide array of activities beyond the usual tours and tastings including pairing and dining experiences (even paella workshops), Segway, electric bike or scooter tours, nordic walking, theatrical visits, grape picking or blending experiences. Tasting options are numerous and an aroma workshop is also offered. The winery’s various spaces are also available for events and meetings.

TASTING NOTES

Jean Leon Vinya Gigi 2012 Blanco
Jean Leon Vinya Palau 2011 Tinto
Jean Leon Vinya Le Havre Reserva 2007 Tinto
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