Friday, September 11, 2009

Elizabeth Spencer Napa Valley Chardonnay 2006

One of the great things about visiting Napa Valley is discovering some of the small, lesser known gems that seem to be scattered throughout the valley. On a visit to Napa a couple years ago I discovered Elizabeth Spencer in Rutherford which is a great little winery that produces small lots of a number of different wines each year. Their winemaker, Matthew Rorick, is a purist who believes that his job is simply to express the character of the fruit he has to work with, and as a result he produces some very fine food friendly wines. Their wines do have limited distribution, but your best bet with these is probably to buy them online from the winery at

This 2006 Chardonnay is fermented on the lees in stainless steel barrels. It sees no oak at all, which is largely a result of Matthew Rorick's belief that the fruit is the focus. If you are a lover of heavily oaked California Chardonnays, then this is probably not the wine for you. My wife, who is a lover of new world Chardonnay was rather unimpressed by this wine due to the lack of oak. Medium-pale straw in color, this is a very nice looking wine in your glass. The nose brings pleasant aromas of apple and pineapple with a hint of citrus. On the palate you get green apple and pear with notes of lemon. The wine has wonderful acidity for a California Chardonnay, and is a little more Burgundian in style than Californian. The medium bodied mouthfeel of this wine makes it a very food friendly and versatile Chardonnay. It has very nice fruit, crisp acidity, and a nice medium bodied mouthfeel which results in great overall structure. It would go very well with a number of foods, but it would be perfect with some seared sea scallops or a broiled lobster tail.

As far as value goes, the $30 price tag is a little on the steep side, but when you compare it to White Burgundy rather than California Chardonnay, it is pretty much in line. If you join their wine club, you can get a 20% discount on all your orders, which brings the price down to $24. I wouldn't open this for any old meal, but if your having a tasty lobster tail or some succulent sea scallops then its well worth it for a pairing that will be perfect. Cheers!

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