Neil Ellis Elgin Chardonnay 2007

Disturbingly bright in the glass, there’s something unappetizing about the color of this wine; this isn’t a color I usually see in a glass – only in a plastic cup. There’s also something too-clean, stripped about it; it has that harsh, fluorescent-lit indifference of well-filtered wines.Thankfully, the nose is spot on and entirely correct. It smells like gloriously manipulated New World chardonnay at its finest; there are funky autolyzed yeast characteristics along with just a whiff of just-struck matches. The only thing I don’t really smell is fruit: if there is any, it’s Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit along with a sort of coriander-lemongrass note that’s very much off hiding somewhere behind the lees.Wonderfully tart in the mouth, the fruit is at first ironically the only thing I notice here, a brief citrus burst of sun that quickly mutates into something slightly more tropical – pineapple, almost? – and then it’s all quickly restrained by a sly two-pronged attack of creamy vanilla oak and rich, lees-y texture. It all ends on an oddly muted, somewhat soft, almost mineral note with the crisp acidity hanging around slightly like a faded halo.Do I like this wine? To be honest, not particularly: it seems to me to be not worked enough to really inspire me – and yet it’s also not straightforward enough to be enjoyed as a simple, refreshing wine. Instead, it seems to me to be trying to have it both ways – bright, simple fruit framed by heavily manipulated winemakery (winemachinations?) – and it just doesn’t work, at least not for me. If you’re trying to wean someone off of unoaked chardonnay, though, there might be enough awakened intrigue here to lead them down the path to richer, more messed-with styles, however.Neil Ellis
Price: $18
Closure: Stelvin