Tasting Notes, 2009: Elizabeth Spencer Wines

Elizabeth Spencer has been one of my favorite wineries for quite some time now, although I have never actually mentioned that fact here. Frankly, I’m not sure why I’ve never said anything before. But like I have said, the Thirsty Reader is by no means comprehensive: if I happen to discover something that strikes me as noteworthy, then I’ll usually try to mention it here, if I have the time. Sometimes I get sidetracked, or I get lazy. Sometimes, I’ll postpone an entry if I don’t feel like I ever have the time or the energy to do an adequate job.

During this past year, I had probably placed Elizabeth Spencer on the back-burner for any or all of those reasons. However, with their open-house event freshly on my mind tonight, I figured that I should at least mention Elizabeth Spencer, whether I’ve found my muse or not. Truth be told, in my regular line of work, I probably send people to Elizabeth Spencer more than any other winery in the Napa Valley (the fact that the winery doesn’t require any reservations really makes this an easy recommendation).

In terms of sheer varietals, Elizabeth Spencer features a deep portfolio, which makes each visit to the winery unique. For instance, sometimes they’ll have their delicious Sauvignon Blanc, and sometimes they won’t (their last production was about 1500 cases, so it sold out reasonably fast). Tonight, they happened to feature one of their newest releases — the 2008 Elizabeth Spencer Chenin Blanc Mendocino — a production that only yielded 264 cases. Even in a bad economy, this wine will probably be gone by the summer (especially with Chenin Blanc tasting even better on hot days).

As is typical, one of the highlights of the night was the Syrah, which remains one of Elizabeth Spencer’s most consistent productions, year after year. I had tasted the 2006 Elizabeth Spencer Sonoma Coast Syrah at a party back in March, and I remembered thinking that they had gotten it right once again. Revisiting this wine tonight only confirmed my initial assessment (and if you don’t believe me, lots of people whom I knew were going back for the Syrah as well).

The best taste of the night may have been the 2004 Elizabeth Spencer Special Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that definitely displayed the benefits of time. Although this particular bottling is Elizabeth Spencer’s most modestly priced Cabernet Sauvignon, it overachieves in the same way that Chappellet, Turnbull and Heitz overachieve. The downside is that the 2004 may be sold out: however, the Elizabeth Spencer website does offer the 2006 Special Cuvee Cabernet for $45, if you’re into planning ahead.

1 comment to Tasting Notes, 2009: Elizabeth Spencer Wines

  • Gabrielle

    I’m so jealous! Reading about all these wineries, with all the great detail and personal impressions, make me really miss it up there. I need a good Sav Blanc!

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