This past Sunday, we managed to put on a Tablas Creek and Beaucastel tasting that, I felt, balanced the educational aspect, the entertainment, and the degree of participation into something that clicked. It was intended for (and marketed to) our wine club, but open to all.
When he was over here in February, we broached the idea of a joint Tablas Creek and Beaucastel tasting with Francois Perrin. He thought it was a great idea, and generously agreed to send over 6 different Beaucastel wines, three whites and three reds. We also pulled three different whites and three different reds from our own stocks and library, and tasted the wines in two flights: whites first, then reds. The menu, and some brief notes:
- Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc 2004: Young and relatively tight, with Roussanne aromas of honey and spice, and mineral present. But, we all felt that this would be much better in a few years as it fleshed out.
- Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc Roussanne "Vieilles Vignes" 2002: Just delicious. My favorite white of the day. Lush yet light on its feet, and really seamless.
- Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc Roussanne "Vieilles Vignes" 1986: A treat for everyone. The weight of this wine had dropped off with time, leaving a vibrant expression of terroir: mineral and spice highlighted by bright acids. Some sense of age, but no darkening of color, and remarkably lively.
- Tablas Creek Vineyard Paso Robles Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc 2005: Interesting after the Beaucastels. More spiky and assertive; more floral, brighter acids, and very lush. Still quite primary, but with terrific depth. A really bright future ahead for it.
- Tablas Creek Vineyard Paso Robles Roussanne 2002: Very Roussanne in character, with more noticeable new oak than the other Tablas wines. Slightly cedary. Still quite young, with room to grow into its considerable structure.
- Tablas Creek Vineyard Paso Robles Clos Blanc 2000: Very interesting, with the Viognier component showing, but clearly on the same continuum as the older Beaucastels. The wine, which was fat and relatively low in acid in its youth, appears to be picking up acidity and vibrancy. Fascinating.
And flight 2:
- Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 2001: Gorgeous. Lots of Mourvedre meat and spice, but still very clean flavors. Relatively tight when poured, but had really fleshed out by the end of the event.
- Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 1990: Also gorgeous. Smelled notably older than the 2001 (which it was) with leather and truffles, but in the mouth was still very youthful. Nice acids, firm tannins, lots of fruit and earth.
- Tablas Creek Vineyard Paso Robles Esprit de Beaucastel 2005: An interesting comparison, since we used more Grenache (26%) than ever before for an Esprit. Bottled 3 weeks ago. Very primary, very fat and lush, with lots of fruit and mineral. Explosive, even recently bottled. It will clearly get more complex over time as it loses baby fat.
- Tablas Creek Vineyard Paso Robles Reserve Cuvee 1999: From a very structured vintage. Has softened in recent years to show game and spice flavors, good acids, and surprising depth. Still has a few years to go.
And finally, a pair of wines from the same vintage served unidentified:
- Tablas Creek Vineyard Paso Robles Esprit de Beaucastel 2004
- Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 2004
The most remarkable conclusion that we found was how much of a family resemblance there was among the wines, whether made here in Paso Robles or in Chateauneuf du Pape. Even after tasting examples from both places, fully half the room guessed wrongly in the challenge to identify which 2004 came from which estate.
The Tablas Creek Web site maintains an up-to-date list our upcoming events.