Last fall, we debuted the VINsider Wine Club Collector's Edition. Members of this wine club get three bottles of older vintages of Esprit de Beaucastel and Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc each fall (as well as a few more bottles of the newest Esprit and Esprit Blanc) in addition to their club shipment. They also have the opportunity to buy a little more. The club has been a great success from the beginning, and we've maxed our our capacity each of the last two years. Our membership is now up to about 450 people.
Collector's Edition members will receive the 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel and the 2006 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc this fall. These wines were ones that showed beautifully in recent vertical tastings, both at stages where some of the primary flavors of youth had matured into deeper, more complex tones, but which should still provide another decade or more of good drinking. I thought it would be fun to share the tasting notes from our recent tastings.
- Production Notes: Above-average winter rains and a cool spring got 2006 off to a wet and late start. A moderate summer followed, and the resulting harvest was delayed but unhurried, with beautiful weather persisting into November. Wines showed notable elegance, pure flavors, medium body and comparatively lower alcohol levels. The 2006 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc featured 65% Roussanne, primarily from neutral barrels, at its core. 30% Grenache Blanc provides roundness and distinctive anise aromatics, and 5% Picpoul Blanc adds bright acids that emphasize the wine's mineral and saline characteristics. The wine was blended in April 2007 and bottled in June 2007.
- 2010 Tasting Notes: The color at age four is youthful: a clear pale gold with a hint of green. The nose shows more savory than fruity, with notes of mineral, saline, honey and menthol. The mouth is rich and warm, with flavors of lanolin, rose petal, new boards and sweet spices. It feels both seamless and – despite its intensity – weightless. On the lingering finish, the wine has both brighter lemon and darker butterscotch flavors. It would love rich food like crab, lobster, or ginger pork, and should drink well for at least the next three years and likely much longer.
- Quantity Produced: 1800 cases
- Library Price: $45 VINsider Price: $36
- Production Notes: 2004 was our third consecutive drought year, marked by low yields, a warm spring and very early flowering. A fairly mild summer morphed into a late-August heat wave, with much of the harvest completed by mid-September. The fall weather cooled down, and we waited a long time for Mourvèdre, suspending harvest for two weeks after a mid-October rainstorm. For the 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel, we balanced the relatively high proportion (50%) of Mourvèdre with 27% Syrah for color, black fruit, and mineral, 17% Grenache for freshness, warmth, and sweet spice, and 6% Counoise for openness. The wine was blended in August 2005, aged in foudre and bottled in July 2006.
- 2010 Tasting Notes: The first impression is decidedly Old World, with a deep, dark nose of laquered wood, rosemary, spiced plum and cloves. As it sits in the glass, more fruit emerges with cherry, black raspberry and gingerbread spice. The palate shows beautiful balance, with flavors of roasted meat, mineral, fig, pomegranate, black cherry and crushed rock. It’s a very pure and self-assured wine; Francoise Perrin called it a “vin carré”: literally a “square wine”. It has a long finish of plum, herbs and mineral. The wine is at the beginning of what should be a wonderful decade-long maturity. Try it with a rack of lamb.
- Quantity Produced: 3250 cases
- Library Price: $60 VINsider Price: $48
The Collector's Edition is full for 2010, but anyone who is interested can read more on our Web site, and can get onto the waiting list for 2011. We expect to be able to add another 150 or so members next year, and we'll take them off the waiting list in the order in which we receive their requests.
Finally, anyone who missed the notes on the other wines in the fall 2010 wine club shipment can find them here.