We've made no secret of the fact that former Elyse winemaker, Ray Coursen, has been one of our favorite winemakers for nearly 40 years. He started his career in the early '80s with Whitehall Lane, which coincidently was owned by Al Stein, a prominent surgeon and wine customer at Paul Sr's wine shop in Palos Verdes.
Of course, we couldn't wait to go to the winery and taste their first releases. We were nothing less than flabbergasted. Every wine crafted by this new winemaker was so poignantly detailed and beautifully balanced that we wondered if he could keep up that kind of quality.
Well, 30 years later, there is no doubt that Ray is still one of the best. He and his wife, Nancy, retired a few years ago and he sold the winery. But, thankfully he kept a few cases to offer us - as we have always wanted to feature them.
It was quite a shock when we were told it was Chardonnay and it was from Sonoma! We never have had a white wine from Ray and didn't think he even made one. Yet, here it is. Of course, in typical Coursen fashion, it is spectacular.
The grapes were grown high atop the Mayacamas Mountains to ripen very slowly and methodically. The wine was then aged 16 months in French oak for added complexity. The result is a striking plethora of flavors from pear blossom to white peach and lemon peel just begging for shrimp scampi or a spicy crab salad.