Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Special Chardonnay: 2003 Eric Kent Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

This beautiful label by artist Colleen Teitgen serves as the first hint of the beautiful wine inside made by her husband, Erick Kent. The 2003 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is so beautiful inside and out that I've thrown my usual "availability" criteria out the window on this one, folks. Eric Kent only made 9 barrels of this wine--just 225 cases. It's the smallest production wine I think I've had, and you probably won't find a bottle since even the winery is sold out. I nabbed one at Chronicle Wine Cellar for the unbelievably good price of $19.95 (this wine normally retails for around $27) It is an amazing chardonnay, and represents excellent QPR. If you are in Pasadena, and can beat me back there to see if there are any left, you may be able to nab one, too.

Eric Kent's 2003 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is a classic cool-climate chardonnay with grapes sourced from Russian River and Sebastapol vineyards. It's rich straw color is a preamble to the golden aromas of ripe pear and honey. These lead to flavors of pear, vanilla, and a touch of lemon. The wine spent 15 months in French oak barrels (60% new), but the oak is so well integrated that you get the richness without any oakey flavor. Instead, you are aware of a heavenly honey-vanilla persistence from the aromas through the finish. This is a huge chardonnay (15.5% alc/vol), but the alcohol is somehow kept in balance with the wine's impressive varietal structure.

With this nearly perfect chardonnay we had some perfectly matched food: seared scallops with tarragon mashed potatoes and tarragon beurre blanc sauce. Like the wine, this meal was both fresh and rich, which resulted in a nice partnership of flavors and textures.

Getting your hands on a bottle of Erick Kent wines in the future is going to be tough, since the entire output of the winery is miniscule and the UK's Decanter magazine named the winery "one to watch" in October of 2006. There is a pre-release club that I am extremely tempted to join (5 bottles a year at 30% discount) and the website has a good list of all the stores in the US that carry their wines. If one is near you, I'd suggest you hot-foot it over there and put your name down now for the next bottle that comes in the door. Yes, it's that good.


David said...

This sounds great. I've really enjoyed chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. I'M chard is one good one I've had lately. I tend to get them through the Duncan Mills Wine & Cheese shop which we discovered a few years ago while staying in Sonoma. I may have to see if they have this one!

Dr. Debs said...

They are so different from Napa chards, in my opinion. The cool climate really makes a difference. But they are small production--the Duncan Mills shops may have EK, and if not I'd sign up for his newsletter so you know when the new bottles are released so you can grab a few.