Because our tastes turn more towards the French models these days, we can pretty much count our favorite domestic wine producers on one hand, and Tablas Creek Vineyard is right there on that very short list. I suppose that might be expected, given the collaboration of families Haas and Perrin, but it wouldn’t make a bit of difference who was involved if the wines were just all right, or worse, hit-and-miss. Happily, such is not the case; they are consistently brilliant, and we’re always happy to have anything they make in our glasses. Our friend Anne Keller obliged us in that regard recently by opening three vintages of Tablas Creek’s flagship white Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc for our enjoyment, and enjoy them we did!
2001 Tablas Creek Vineyard Paso Robles Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, 44% Roussanne, 22% Viognier, 18% Grenache Blanc, 16% Marsanne, 13.8% alc.: Clean medium straw color, with a tinge of lemon; lovely flavors and aromas of chalky mineral, white tree fruit and lanolin. Full bodied, with excellent balance, acidity and length. In a great place right now, showing a definite “sense of place,” with plenty of depth for further development. A terrific example of why you should give these time in the cellar, because it really DOES make a difference. Find this wine
2006 Tablas Creek Vineyard Paso Robles Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, 65% Roussanne, 30% Grenache Blanc, 5% Picpoul Blanc, 13.5% alc.: Pretty medium straw-to-pale gold in color; a bit less mineral and a little more focused fruit than the ’01 shows, with white peach, green apple, a hint o’ lime and and some subtle mineral. Ripe, but not excessively so, being more sleek and less plump than the ’01; full bodied and well-balanced, with excellent acids and length. A tasty glass o’ wine, though not yet at peak, with many years of development ahead of it. Find this wine
2007 Tablas Creek Vineyard Paso Robles Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, 68% Roussanne, 22% Grenache Blanc, 10% Picpoul Blanc, 13.5% alc.: Clean, pale gold color; showing a bit more citrus, and riper than the ’06 and ’01, and obviously the youngest of the three. Clean, fairly crisp citrus/lime, white tree fruit and green apple character, underscored with subtle minerality. Full bodied, sleek and well-structured for many years in the cellar, but not at all hard to enjoy right now. Find this wine
The difference between the ’01 and the two younger models is rather obvious, and the inclusion of the Marsanne and Viognier in the older selection seemed to me to be the prime suspects as to why that is. I asked Tablas Creek General Manager Jason Haas if he’d care to share any observations on the matter, and here’s what he had to say.
“The 2001 was our first ever vintage of Esprit Blanc, and we hadn’t yet really dialed in what we were looking for with the wine. So, it followed the model, more or less, of what we’d done with our previous whites and included the best lots of all the different white varietals. As we refined the model starting in 2002, we decided that the Viognier and Marsanne didn’t really add much to the ageability of the wines, and so split those off to form the core of the Cotes de Tablas Blanc, and left the Esprit Blanc more powerfully Roussanne. This gives the wines more structure and more focus, we think, and should make them more ageable.
“I love how both the 2006 and 2007 are showing now; we’re pouring the 2007 right now in our tasting room because we think it’s showing so well. It’s really rich, but has this sneaky acidity and great minerality that keeps it balanced. Something, as you note, to enjoy either now or later.”
Many thanks to Anne for sharing these three beauties with us, and to Jason for once again sharing his time and insights into the wines of Tablas Creek Vineyard.
Reporting from Day-twah,