It’s Thursday, and I”m back in Paso Robles for Hospice du Rhone, the annual extravaganza showcasing the 22 Rhone Varietals from around the world. Since the first event didn’t kick off until that evening, we had some free time to visit a few favorite wineries – starting with Tablas Creek.
Tablas Creek Vineyard was founded in 1989, as a partnership between the Perrin family of Chatau de Beaucastel and Rover Hass, who founded Vineyard Brands. Having a shared vision of creating Rhone wines in California,they set about creating a New World Rhone house.
Today, Robert’s son Jason showed us around he property which boasts a spanking new tasting room, complete with cork floors (can I have some in MY house? Seriously noise cancelling comfort at its best) and several tasting areas that are easiy divdied up for differnet groups, or opened up for a community feeling.
The first wines of Tablas Creek were created in 1997 when the Estate Winery was completed. On this day, we toured the property, examined the new tasting room, and…well, drank some wine. With a wet wet wet 2010-11 growing season under way, Tablas – and most of Paso Robles- has seen a lot of rain. In a place where a typical year sees 28 inches of rain, so far (and this was in April) they have seen 36 inches. Tablas Creek is dry farmed, and with this kind of rain and whacky snow, sleet and frost, there has been some damage to the vines recently. Fortunately, most of the crop was saved, and there will be wine to show for it. What will this year’s weather do? Who knows. Stay tuned, I’ll take up the cause and go taste the wines every season. I’m a giver that way.
Each parcel on the property is hand picked to ripeness, meanng that there might be several passes on a row before all the bunches are harvested. Another highlight of Tablas is that they use 100% Native Yeast, and do not innocolate with commerical yeastes. It’s my personal belief that this gives much more character to a wine, and lets the fruit develop the beauty of the juice without overmanipulating it and turning it in to a Frankenwine.
Our first taste on the warm spring day was the 2010 Verminto. It was bright and crisp, with lot fo honey and stone fruit. The minerals clung to the glass with a burst of tangerine that I just love.
A new line for Tablas Creek is the Patelin de Tables. Launcehd in 2010, the white is based on Grenache Blanc, (see my passion ofr this wine HERE), and the red is based on Syrah. This is a ncie counterpart to the Esprit de Beaucastel line, which are based on Roussanne and Mouvedre. The Patelin de Tables Blanc had crisp pears, and green apple and was fresh and bright. I loved this wine, and could easily sip this on the patio for days.
Next up the 2010 Côtes de Tablas Blanc, which is viognier based. It was smooth and rich, with low acid and tons of floral notes. There is a touch of rousanne and marsanne blended in as well, I have to say, it was a nice white, but my money is on the Patelin de Tables.
The 2007 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc had a lot of nutty notes, as well as baked fruti. This is a roussane blend, and is showing a touch of oxidation in it’s 5 year old life, but in an enjoyable way.
A favorite of mine, and one I enjoyed at the Pink Out as well, is the 2010 Rose. With 48 hours of skin contact, it has a rosy glow, and is a blend of 50% saignée (juice bled off from red wine production) and 50% purpose made rose. The majority of this wine is mourvedre, which gives it a backbone and some structure, even for a light rose. Great choice!
Ahh now on to the reds! Starting with the 2009 Côtes de Tablas, a grenache based big boy with huge spicy blackberry notes, cinnamon spice and plum. I absolutely adored this wine. The additions of syrah, counoise and mourvedre to the blend liven up the wine and give it a dark and brooding character with a kick of pepper at the end.
A treat from Jason was the 2009 100% Grenache, with its delicious spicy plum notes. I am a grenache FREAK and the high acid balances out the big fruit.
At this point, I have no idea what we were tasting, just that I had a great afternoon tasting some fantastic Rhone wines from Paso. There was not a bad wine in the bunch, and I could easily have taken a seat on the new terrace and sipped an entire bottle of any of them. You can find Tablas Creek wines fairly easily in the market, and if you are even in Paso Robles – I suggest looking them up. A smorgasbord for your senses awaits!
Thanks Jason for taking the time to show us around and open up so many treats. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing you again soon!