Thursday, September 4, 2014

Elizabeth Spencer Wines Featured In Inaugural Veritas Cork & Craft Tasting

veritas 1By now we hope that you know that Veritas Cork & Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, is open for business. It’s downtown Toledo’s hottest destination for wine, craft beer, artisan cocktails and just plain chillin.’

We got a tweet last week from co-owner Nick Kubiak who let us know that their first tasting was happening that evening. It was like Commissioner Gordon had turned on the bat signal! We dashed to the car and sped (as quickly as you can on construction-riddled I-75) to the hip new wine bar.

veritas 4The featured wines were from Elizabeth Spencer, a California winery with a focus on Napa and Rutherford that has more recently ventured into Sonoma and Mendocino. The wine style is intense without being overly heavy, with pure flavors and persistent finishes.

Scott Burgess, national sales director for Elizabeth Spencer, conducted the tasting in the retail area of the wine bar. There is no Elizabeth Spencer, by the way, it is a combination of the names of partners Elizabeth Pressler and Spencer Graham.

First up was the 2013 Mendocino Proprietor Selected Sauvignon Blanc. This is a vibrant, fresh white with crisp flavors of grapefruit and lemon. What a great start to the tasting.

The 2012 Mendocino Chardonnay is fermented in stainless steel and then finished in neutral oak barrels. As a result this special cuvee is round and delicate – not overwhelmed by oak.

My pick of the whites was the 2012 Mendocino Pinot Blanc. Forty barrels were produced and each apparently is a beauty. This has layers of citrus with a pinch of flowers. There is a balancing minerality. If purity of flavor is the aim of Elizabeth Spencer, they hit a bulls eye with this wine. The SRP is only $18.50, so it is quite a bargain.

veritas 3On the red side of the spectrum, we began with a superb 2011 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Black cherry flavors flow in a velvety mouthfeel. This is a delicious wine with the prominent note being dark red fruit, but with some complexity and earth tones. The grapes come from the Petaluma Gap region where ocean breezes create ideal Pinot Growing conditions. We grabbed a bottle of this for $33.50.

The 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet was the favorite of several guests at the tasting. Although a solid wine, it wasn’t my favorite. It is bright and smooth, but seemed to have less heartiness than I was expecting. Perhaps a year or three of aging will perfect it.

We were preparing to wrap up when some special bottles appeared from under the bar. That’s always a good sign at a tasting!

The first bonus wine was the 2011 Sonoma Coast Syrah. No wonder it was under the table – they only produced 13 barrels. This is a deep red wine with fruit that explodes from the glass. Smooth and rich, it is a wine with character.

We finished the tasting with the 2012 Mendocino Grenache. This was the most outstanding of the reds (although the Pinot gives close chase). A bright garnet color, flavors of raspberry roil through this medium bodied wine. It is a Grenache with finesse and bright, clear notes of red currant and traces of spice.

It was my first tasting of Elizabeth Spencer wines and they were impressive. Green Dragon and I were pleased to be part of the very first Veritas tasting. They should have had T-shirts! If you haven’t been to Veritas yet, consider this your insider tip and get a move on.

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