Leather as a wine descriptor can refer to either the aroma or texture/ mouthfeel of the wine. Like most terminology used to describe wine it is subjective, but the overall consensus seems to be that this is positive characteristic.
Most of us are pretty familiar with the scent of leather. In terms of aroma it is another more specific take on the earthy adjective. Speaking of specifics, critics and the folks that write these tasting notes can get pretty precise on the types of leather they identify, using terms such as “saddle leather”, “fine grained leather”, “bookbinders leather”, ect. Don’t be intimidated if you can’t tell boot leather from book leather, this is generally one of the easier aromas to identify in wine.
In terms of mouthfeel, leathery typically denotes a wine that is high in tannins with a thick soft taste. Another common word you’ll hear is chewy. This sensation appears in dense, big or full bodied wines with a thick texture you may feel the need to chew your way through.
Our pick for a wine with leathery traits:
2006 Parador Reserva Red Blend, Napa Valley
Wine Spectrum Rated 95+: The 2006 Reserva is a blend of 45% Tempranillo and 55% Cabernet Sauvignon. This Reserva displays beautiful floral aromas of rose petals and candied fruit on the nose, while the palate shows lean red fruits, earth and a touch of aged leathery spice, white pepper and citrus orange peel. Drinking well now, but can be layed down for another 5-10 years. 123 cases produced.