John Leo is not a boisterous person. Like his wines, he’s not going to be the razzmatazz guy at a party, workin’ the room who, for better or worse, you notice pretty quickly because he wants you to. Nope. John Leo is the person you eventually sit next to at that party who engages you in a conversation you actually want to have and realize, oh wow, this person is super smart and really cool! How did I not talk to this person earlier?
This is also what Leo’s wines are like. They don’t jump out of your glass, all gangbusters on the front end, only to fizzle out and fade away with no there-there. Like Leo, his wines are that great conversation that gets more interesting and that you remember long after the final word is uttered.
Leo, a Sag Harbor resident, has been the winemaker for Clovis Point since 2004, but he’s been leasing vineyards and making his own wines since 1999. Currently, he leases four acres and change from Onabay Vineyards. While he makes wine from these grapes annually at Premium Wine Group in Mattituck, he has only bottled a red under the Leo Family label six times. Six times! That’s it.
The 2015 Leo Family Red is a special wine. It’s a Bordeaux blend, with a teeny-tiny bit of Rhone in the mix: merlot and cabernet franc make up the largest portions, but cabernet sauvignon, malbec, petit verdot and syrah have wonderful cameos—small but nonetheless important character roles to play here.
It’s near opaque in your glass, rich with dense, brooding blackberry and black plum fruit. There are notes of licorice, tobacco and cassis. It’s velvety in texture and mouthfilling, but with such wonderful, seemingly effortless structure that keeps the whole experience beautifully in tact. It seems so very old world—or maybe old soul. It’s a wine you’ll really like spending time with.
“All I’ll add is that my favorite wines from around the world are full of character and flavor, but also subtle,” Leo says. “I love when a wine seems pretty good and interesting on the first sip… and then gets increasingly satisfying on subsequent sips. That’s what I strive for with Leo Family Red: Depth, breadth, length and elegance.”
You can (and should) find the 2015 Leo Family Red at Amagansett Wine & Spirits, 203 Main St., Amagansett, 631-267-3939.