Wine Review – California Burgundy? – 2005 Elizabeth Spencer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, Sonoma, California

With a label like that, it could easily blend into the Burg section of a wine shop don't you think?

With a label like that, it could easily blend into the Burg section of a wine shop don't you think?

Winery: Elizabeth Spencer Wines

Bottling: 2005 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Region: California

Sub-Region: Sonoma Coast

Estimated Retail Price: $35-$40

Purchase Details & Tasting Source: We found this screaming deal in the closeout bin for $20.99 at Fujioka’s Wine Times.  It was the only bottle there, so it must have been a loosey, goosey onesy twosey that didn’t have a place on the shelf.  We have wine at home to drink, but we were into a retail wine shopping adventure.  I was making a pork chop with a pear and dried cranberry compote, which I thought really screamed chardonnay, and we were out.

Tasting Notes: I get really excited when I taste a chardonnay that tastes like what happens when Burgundy and California collide.  Wet stone and stone fruit flavors are what I strongly associate with white Burgundies and this Elizabeth Spencer Chardonnay had a lot of that going on, of course with the California sunshine in the bottle as well.

On the nose I could smell a perfect combination of oak, lees stirring and tropical fruit and stone.  I won’t lie to you.  At some point in the night when I’m drinking a wine, I look at the technical notes to see if what I surmised about the wine making was correct.  Of course I try to guess as much as I can before looking.  It’s a great way to learn more about the technical side of what you’re drinking.  You should try it at home.

Getting back to the wine making, I was pretty right on in terms of what they did during the process to arrive with the finished product.  More on that later in a future post.  There was more use of old oak than new oak, slight lees stirring and a small portion of the wine was fermented in stainless steel.  What does this all mean?  A firm wine, with a clean and refreshing mouth feel.

Peach, pear, apple, a hint of butterscotch and various stone and stone fruit are the festival of flavors that were happening in the mouth.  I’m really digging this wine.  Loads of complexity.

Food Pairing and Context in Which to Enjoy: This wine is right at home with pork chops and fruit compotes or a simple roasted pork tenderloin.

Simple pork chop with a pear and dried cranberry compote

Simple pork chop with a pear and dried cranberry compote

Winery Background: The winery was started by Elizabeth Pressler and Spencer Graham, two people who had previous backgrounds in other wine related fields.  Elizabeth spent time on the marketing side for several high profile Napa wineries including a few cult ones, while Spencer ran his own wine distribution and wholesale business in the mid-atlantic region of the U.S.

I’m very impressed with this wine as well as a basic Napa Valley bottling of their cabernet sauvignon I had a year ago that was outstanding, especially with a price tag of around $35-$40.  Seek out their wines if you really enjoy artisan, hand -crafted wines.


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