Saturday, August 27, 2011

2007 Elizabeth Spencer "The Guardian" Cabernet Sauvignon. A Stunner.

I've struggled with what words use for this blog post for about two weeks now. Conveying the impact of a sublime wine experience is difficult, something only the best wine scribes can effectively accomplish. Luckily we live in an age where such scribes are out there on the internet and in print, thus easy to find and read. If you're at this blog I fear you've mis-navigated. Before you leave however, read on to find out about the best red wine I have tasted so far this year.

Although it's not the best way to start the a new pargraph, I admit I'm left at a loss for the appropriate words to convey how much the 2007 Elizabeth Spencer cabernet impressed me, satisfied me, and touched the happy place deep within each wine geek's soul. It's not often I can freely write about how amazing a wine is, there are constraints to most of the blog posts I write, be they self-imposed or comprised of externalities.

In June I was happily tweeting on a glorious day. Bacchus was smiling, Becky was visiting, and I believe there was delicious wine or some great craft beer open and being enjoyed. Out of the blue, a winery I'd been following tweeted at me that I was their Follower of the Month or some such thing. At first, being the jaded, skeptical, even cynical (no, not really) blogger that I am, the word "scam" popped into my head. I even sent a Twitter DM asking if they were for real. Lucky for me, they weren't kidding.

Elizabeth Spencer Wines, based in Rutherford in Napa Valley. I had heard the name talked about by some wine-collecting friends but never tasted their wines before. A producer of some very good repute, by all accounts. The winery makes a lot of different wines, all in small lots. Cabernet sauvignon and franc, syrah, pinot noir, merlot, grenache, petite sirah, chardonnay, chenin and sauvignon blancs, and a rose of pinot. For a smaller winery, this is one of the most impressive lineups I have ever seen.

Allison at the winery was kind enough to send down my prize, a bottle of their 2007 E x S "The Guardian" cabernet sauvignon. She very smartly packed it in a two bottle shipper and enclosed an ice pack. Little touches like that let me know a winery has smart and caring people working there.

As you can see from the bottle shot, there's also that neat little bit about ten barrels being made. Or, a few hundred cases total production for this cabernet. My intent was to stick the bottle in my cellar and forget about it for a few years, but alas that wasn't to be. I was sent samples of some other very exclusive wines including the 2009 Seghesio Costiera pinot noir, and decided to open them at one big tasting with some wine-loving friends from work. This would give them a chance to taste true upper-tier wines, examples they might not otherwise get to taste.

Before those wine-loving friends of mine arrived though, I felt the weight of responsibility upon my shoulders to ensure that each of the four wines was in fact ready for my friends to taste and enjoy. Therefore I pre-tasted all of them and took notes. While one was cooked in transit and will be written up after I get another sample bottle, the remaining three were out of this world. The Seghesio has already been written up, the Hedges Red Mountain will be up soon too.

2007 is considered a great vintage in Napa Valley by the critics, from Wine Spectator to Robert Parker and Wine Enthusiast. The growing season was superb, a small crop and ideal ripening conditions led to a huge collection of wonderful wines. The 2007 E x S "The Guardian" is no exception.

Pouring a deep, dense garnet, almost no light shines through this cabernet sauvignon. Despite (or in spite of) the nearly four years of bottle age, all the signs point to a still-young wine. The color is marvelous, hinting at what might be something truly delicious waiting to be experienced.

After a few whiffs my notes consisted of: "Dark chocolate ran full speed into a wall of old leather sitting in a vat of plummy reduction sauce! I love the cassis, dark chocolate, and tobacco secondary aromas, can't get enough of those. There's even a touch of bretty funk, and green pepper playing in a dust storm here. WOW!"

Impressive, no? The only changes I made to the above notes were to correct the punctuation. What you see is the verbatim olfactory experience that I had that afternoon.

At first sip the E x S cabernet is intense, full of muscular tannin and a wall of earth, but once you ascend that, there's a beautiful tapestry of ripe fruit flavors. Cassis, blackberry, and cherries are all supported by the continuing undercurrent of firm tannin. This wine is amazing.  The way it is so bold and strong before giving way to a rich, velvety smooth mid-palate is a testament to quality fruit and a talented winemaker. I loved how deep or thick the wine felt as I swirled it around, and the finish was magnificent. Lots of ripe fruit and dark chocolate that tapered off with such supreme elegance. In a way, sensual is perhaps the best descriptor I can think of because you want to know every facet of this cabernet and you want to experience every flavor, nuance, and texture you can.

The 2007 E x S "The Guardian" cabernet sauvignon is the best red wine I have had so far this year. Tasting it reminded me of just how amazing the cabernet grown in Napa Valley is. Drinking this cab reminded me of why I drink wine, in a never-ending quest to find more of these moments. Moments that enrich my life, create a sense of perspective, and add texture to me as a person.

If you're looking for a bottle, visit the Elizabeth Spencer Wines website. It's suggested retail price is $60. However, if you want to purchase some of this outstanding wine, use the code "beausbarrelroom" and receive 10% off your purchase, as a thank you from Elizabeth Spencer Winery!

This wine was a gift from the winery, I received no compensation for this post.

Beau Carufel


  1. Love the whole line-up of Elizabeth Spencer wines. Each one is seemingly better than the next.

    See you in three weeks in Spain, baby!


    Nannette Eaton

  2. I think they're sending me the rest of the lineup to taste through soon. I can't wait! Nor can I wait for's coming!

  3. That was an incredibly detailed tasting note (analysis might be a better word.) Not only are Elizabeth and Spencer good wine makers but they are also interesting wine people. I hope you enjoy this link to a video interview I did with Elizabeth while in Napa.

  4. I loved this post and I wish that I had the cash on hand to afford this bottle right now. You certainly convinced me that this is a Cabernet I need to try (though it takes little to make me want to try a Cabernet). Thanks for sharing!
    Kelsey at

  5. Thanks Austin and Kelsey! Glad you enjoyed the writeup, it's not often I get this excited about a wine but The Guardian got me all wine-geeked out.