Elizabeth Spencer Wine Dinner - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 09-16-2009

Elliott's on Linden, Pinehurst, NC, hosted this wine dinner last night. Spencer Graham, owner of Elizabeth Spencer, was present along with a wine distributor and Tad who has a wine shop on the premises of Elliott's.
The food was wonderful and so were the wines although I had my preferences among the varieties.

Amuse bouche with 2007 Chenin Blanc from Mendocino County. The wine was very smooth and food friendly. Mr. Graham said he was impressed by a particular Vouvray and commented to Elizabeth that he would like to make a wine like that--initially he had no intentions of producing a Chenin Blanc. This one had some floral tones.

The first course was potato gnocchi with mushroom ragu, petit watercress salad in a lemon thyme vinaigrette. One lady commented on how light the gnocchi were unlike most potato gnocchi she had tasted in restaurants.

2007 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast (in the Petaluma Gap area) stole the show for my nose and palate. Powerfully fragrant nose of cherry. On the palate, concentrated dark cherry , rich and with a long finish. Pleasantly astringent on the finish. He uses French barrels with little new oak. I thought this had some semblance to a voluptuous Volnay or a charming Chambolle Musigny--a feminine wine but not lacking in power. (I purchased one bottle for $40 although I would like to have purchased more--I have a lot of Pinot Noir purchases this summer.)
The Pinot Noir may have overwhelmed the delicate gnocchi/mushroom dish but didn't clash. Maybe it would pair well with duck breast and cherry sauce.

Next course was a seafood boudin blanc, braised cabbage with white wine sauce to pair with the 2007 Elizabeth Spencer Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast. We couldn't figure out the seafood stuffed in a sausage casing--I thought maybe it was a salmon mousse--but it actually had mako shark, shrimp, lobster, scallop and mahi mahi.

2007 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
No particular fruit note or other taste element stood out for me but the wine is harmonious, balanced and doesn't announce any wood. It is food friendly and would be good with crab cakes, scallops or some chicken dishes or a pasta in white sauce.
The winery uses 25% stainless steel and 60% neutral oak barrels for this Chardonnay. I purchased a bottle ($35).

Next course was Tournedos Brehan (very tender beef) with a fried artichoke, slender green beans, and cauliflower puree with 2007 Elizabeth Spencer Grenache, Mendocino. Others at the table were more enthused about the Grenache than I was--not one of my favorite grape varieties. Nancy Agasi of Zely and Ritz once described Grenache as calling to mind raspberries and woods and this wine seemed to fit that description fairly well. Deep garnet color; semi-opaque.

The final wine of the evening was 2007 Elizabeth Spencer Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. I was monitoring how much wine I sipped by the time we got to the Grenache and C.S. so I didn't take any notes on it.
We did talk about cork taint. Elizabeth Spencer wines uses nomacork closures for their Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc which are not wines for long aging. They use natural cork for their other wines. They also sell some Cabernet Sauvignon in half bottles which intrigued me. At the conclusion of the dinner they had a drawing for a magnum of Sauvignon Blanc and a magnum of Grenache (I didn't win but two ladies did.)

Spencer Graham will be in Asheville, NC for a couple nights and then visiting in West Virginia.

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 09-16-2009).]