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A Tasting of the Wines in the Spring 2011 VINsider Wine Club Shipment

Every six months, we send out a six-bottle shipment of wines to the members of our VINsider Wine Club.  The fall shipment is in many ways the showcase for our signature wines, and typically includes both our Esprit de Beaucastel and our Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc.  The spring shipment is more eclectic, but typically highlighted by the next vintage of Panoplie, our elite wine made in the image of Beaucastel's iconic Hommage à Jacques Perrin.  We also typically try to send out our Rosé each spring as a preview of this wonderful summertime wine, and the 2010 is a beauty, crisp and spicy, rich yet clean.  Beyond that we choose whichever wines we're particularly excited about.  This year, we chose the beautiful newly-bottled 2010 Vermentino, crisp and classic in this cool vintage, the 2009 Grenache Blanc, remarkably lush yet still focused from the concentrated 2009 vintage, and two single-varietal reds from 2008: the bright yet surprisingly deep 2008 Grenache and the structured, mineral-laced 2008 Syrah.

My dad and I opened the shipment's wines this Friday to draft the tasting and production notes that will accompany them in the shipment.  These shipments will leave the winery the week of March 21st, so we'd waited to write the notes until the last possible moment.  I thought that readers of the blog might enjoy a preview.


  • Production Notes: The 2010 Vermentino is our ninth bottling of this traditional Mediterranean varietal, known principally in Sardinia, Corsica, and Northern Italy. It is also grown in the Rhône Valley (particularly Côtes de Provence) where it is known as Rolle. The Vermentino grape produces wines that are bright, clean, and crisp, with distinctive citrus character and refreshing acidity.
  • Tasting notes: A classic nose of mineral, citrus leaf, and lime zest. In the mouth, an initial impression of sweet citrus quickly turns crisp, with great acids, just a hint of tropical fruit, and a long, clean rocky finish. Pair it with rich oysters or as an aperitif. Enjoy now or over the next two to three years.
  • Production: 1235 cases
  • List Price: $27 VINsider Price: $21.60


  • Production Notes: Grenache Blanc continues to shine on California’s Central Coast. Most of our production goes into our Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc each year, but in 2009 we reserved a small lot for our wine club. It had a very long fermentation in a mix of stainless steel and foudre that didn’t finish until nearly a year after harvest. It was bottled in June 2010.
  • Tasting notes: A smooth nose of buttered toast, preserved lemon and caramel, with a mouth-filling richness on the palate. The finish at first is bright and lemony, and then turns softer with lingering creamy, mineral notes. Drink in the next two to three years.
  • Production: 524 cases
  • List Price: $27 VINsider Price: $21.60

2010 ROSÉ

  • Production Notes: After a tiny crop in 2009, production was back up in 2010, and the composition of our Rosé reflects that, with our traditional blend of 59% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache and 11% Counoise. We left the grapes on their skins for just under two days before drawing off the juice and completing the fermentation in stainless steel. The wine was bottled in February 2011.
  • Tasting notes: Cranberry in color, with an explosive nose of red chile jam, watermelon, plum, mineral and spice. The mouth is bright with flavors of watermelon and tart cherry. The sweetness of the fruit is chased quickly by bright acids and a long, deep finish with echoes of lime and tangerine. Drink now through the end of 2012.
  • Production: 1468 cases
  • List Price: $27 VINsider Price: $21.60


  • Production Notes: The 2008 Grenache, like the 2008 vintage, is exceptionally elegant yet with sneaky power and remarkable complexity for such a young wine. The Grenache was harvested in excellent conditions in early October, fermented in individual lots in closed stainless steel fermenters, blended in June 2009 and aged in foudre until its bottling in April 2010. Unlike in previous vintages (into which we blended 10% Syrah) the wine is 100% Grenache, as we found it to be exquisitely balanced on its own.
  • Tasting notes: Bright medium red, with a classic Grenache nose of currant, red plum, and cherry. Fresh and pure on the palate with flavors of red fruit and milk chocolate, nice chalky tannins that provide firmness and a touch of saline minerality on the long finish. Drink now or over the next six to eight years.
  • Production: 480 cases
  • List Price: $40 VINsider Price: $32

2008 SYRAH

  • Production Notes: The cool 2008 vintage was an excellent one for Syrah. Harvested largely in the middle two weeks of September and fermented in both open-top stainless steel fermenters and upright 1500-gallon oak casks, we blended the wine in June 2009 and aged it primarily in 1200-gallon foudres but also in two new 60-gallon barrels to provide a touch of oak. As with the Grenache, we chose to keep the wine 100% Syrah due to the expressiveness of the varietal in the 2008 vintage. The wine was bottled in April 2010.
  • Tasting notes: Translucent blue-black in color, with a nose of sweet oak, black fruit and mint. The flavors are consistent with the nose, with surprising acidity that should give the wine a long, graceful evolution. Think tart blackberries, with an appealing brambly component. The finish turns creamier, the hint of oak returning. Hold for 6 months or more, and then drink for another fifteen.
  • Production: 476 cases
  • List Price: $40 VINsider Price: $32


  • Production Notes: The 2008 Panoplie marries the vintage’s characteristic elegance with an incredible array of flavors. As always, Panoplie is selected from lots in the cellar chosen for their balance, richness and concentration. The composition (54% Mourvèdre, 29% Grenache and 17% Syrah) reflects the quality of the Syrah in this cooler vintage, but is still based on the structure and meatiness of Mourvèdre. The wine was blended in July 2009 and aged in foudre for a year before being bottled in July 2010.
  • Tasting notes: Dark brick red in color, with a dark, meaty nose showing aromas of raspberry, chocolate, leather and baking spices.  The mouth is rich but with a current of mineral-driven coolness running through it, showing flavors of plum, chocolate, loam, red bramble fruits, just a touch of oak and fine, ripe tannins.  The very long finish is minty, fruity and earthy all at once.  Although it's drinking beautifully now, we expect it to tighten up in the next few years, then reopen around 2016 and drink well for two decades.
  • Production: 500 cases
  • List Price: $95 VINsider Price: $76

More details on the shipment are online for anyone interested: