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Tasting a decade of Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc: 2001-2010

I got a question from my brother about a wine dinner we'll be doing together in Washington, DC this fall. (At Brasserie Beck, September 27th; should be amazing; more information here.)  He wanted to include an older vintage of Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc in the menu and had 2004 and 2006 in the cellar.  He wondered which was drinking better.  I realized that I didn't know.

This seemed to be as good an excuse as any to check in on our past vintages of Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc.  The soon-to-be-bottled 2010 will be the tenth vintage of our signature white, which makes for another nice reason.  To top it off, we have decided to include the 2007 Esprit Blanc in our Collector's Edition shipment this September and I wanted to see how it fit into the context of the surrounding vintages.  I was joined for the tasting by Winemaker Neil Collins, Viticulturist Levi Glenn and National Sales Manager Tommy Oldre.  The lineup:

Espritsblanc_0001

The tasting was fascinating.  Roussanne-based wines tend to go through three distinct stages: a youth of richness and breadth, with flavors of white flowers, herbs, honey and tropical fruits.  They then enter a closed period in middle-age, tasting heavy and often woody, before emerging as different wines, nutty and mineral, often spicy and caramel-tinged.  This tasting highlighted the reemergence of the 2004 (one of my favorite wines of the tasting) and the shutting down of the 2005.  But that closed 2005 provided a nice fulcrum: the four older wines, while all distinctive, showed the rewards of aging, while the four younger wines (plus the unbottled 2010) expressed to varying degrees the vibrancy and power of youth.  By vintage:

  • 2001 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc (44% Roussanne, 22% Viognier, 18% Grenache Blanc, 16% Marsanne): A clean nose of honey, mineral, petrol and saline.  The mouth is beautiful, mid-weight, with caramel apple and a little tannic bite that suggests that it still has a few years to go.  The relatively low percentage of Roussanne in this, the first Esprit Blanc, gave it a different character than the succeeding older wines, a little less weighty, a little higher-toned.  I would never have guessed that this was a decade old.
  • 2002 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc (70% Roussanne, 25% Grenache Blanc, 5% Viognier): Wood on the nose, a little dusty, with some cantaloupe lurking underneath.  Maybe still a touch closed?  Neil tasted the influence of the cork, though the wine wasn't corked.  The mouth was much more appealing, with buttered toast and caramel, excellent richness and a chewy, almost tannic character on the finish.  The wine blossomed after sitting open for 20 minutes or so.  As amazing as it seems, we thought that the wine was still too young.  If you're drinking it now, be sure to decant.
  • 2003 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc (68% Roussanne, 27% Grenache Blanc, 5% Viognier): Aromatics jumped out of the glass compared to the 2002 with honey and a touch of heat.  The mouth is rich and very long, with an appealing touch of jasmine lifting the flavors and some gingery spice deepening them.  The finish was maybe the least resolved piece of the wine, a touch disjointed, and didn't quite live up to the aromas or palate.  I'd tend to give this another 6 months or so, but it's close.
  • 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc (65% Roussanne, 30% Grenache Blanc, 5% Picpoul Blanc): A more focused nose than any of the previous wines shows the signature of the Picpoul.  It's still amazing to me what a difference it made swapping out the 5% Viognier for 5% Picpoul at the time we were blending this wine... still a vivid memory.  It totally brought the wine into focus and brought out a startling saline minerality that wasn't there with the Viognier.  Now, it shows that saline character on the nose, with white flowers, a sense of power more held in check (think BMW rather than Mustang).  Nice acids come out on the finish, with a lingering character of honeydew and preserved lemon.  Easily my favorite of the older wines.
  • 2005 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc (70% Roussanne, 25% Grenache Blanc, 5% Picpoul Blanc): Levi commented that the wine smelled like oak-aged champagne, and he was right... a toasty, almost yeasty character on the nose with dried pineapple as the primary fruit.  On the palate rich but tasting a touch oxidized, lifted at the end by vibrant but not totally integrated acids and a touch of tannin.  Still a beautiful color.  Just in its awkward middle phase; should be spectacular in a couple of years.
  • 2006 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc (65% Roussanne, 30% Grenache Blanc, 5% Picpoul Blanc): Lighter in color than any of the previous wines, and the Grenache Blanc's green apple comes through on the nose.  Very pretty, with additional aromatics of fresh pineapple and a gentle herbiness that Tommy identified as white tea.  Gorgeous sweet fruit in the mouth, pretty and vivacious.  A long, clean finish.  Beautiful.  Great drinking now, but don't be surprised if it shuts down sometime around the end of the year... it's next in line.
  • 2007 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc (68% Roussanne, 22% Grenache Blanc, 10% Picpoul Blanc): Rich and powerful compared to the 2006, with an explosive nose of ginger and honey, rose petals, and licorice stick.  In the mouth it's thick and broad, lifted nicely at the end by that same herby white tea note that we found in the 2006.  A really long finish... the longest of any of the wines that we tasted.
  • 2008 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc (65% Roussanne, 30% Grenache Banc, 5% Picpoul Blanc): A bright nose, higher-toned than any before, which Levi nailed as passion fruit.  Neil called it "a little more wispy than the 2007".  Tommy contributed my favorite quote of the tasting: "more San Francisco yoga instructor than Hollywood starlet".  In the mouth a touch less structured than the past few vintages, with flavors of white peach, licorice, and white tea and a texture that Neil said reminded him of powdered sugar.  Deceptive richness because it's so balanced.  Just a beautiful showing for this wine.
  • 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc (62% Roussanne, 26% Grenache Blanc, 12% Picpoul Blanc): A familiar smell to me as it's the wine I've been out showing to people.  Rich, youthful, creamy nose for fresh honey, almost toasted marshmallow in its perception of sweetness on the nose.  But on the palate richness gives way to structure with flavors of citrus zest and clove, ginger and lemon drop.  Still a baby.
  • 2010 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc (60% Roussanne, 35% Grenache Blanc, 5% Picpoul Blanc): Out of a very chilly tank; we're bottling this in 3 weeks and it's being cold stabilized.  Similar to the 2009 but a bit higher-toned, showing more yellow sweet/tart fruit like passion fruit, pineapple and mango.  A hint of lychee comes out as the wine warms.  In the mouth it's rich but has great structure, and is very clean and pure.  Should be a stunner.

A few concluding thoughts.  Compared to the Esprit red, which shows greater differences in personality from one vintage to the next, the Esprit Blancs displayed more similarities across vintages.  The blend has also stayed relatively stable through the years; except for 2001 every vintage has between 60% and 70% Roussanne.  But it was interesting to see the extent to which the older wines had moved since our last vertical tasting a year ago.  The 2003 and 2004 Esprit Blancs had come out of a closed phase and the 2005 had moved in; the 2002 was showing less well; and the vintages since 2006 were largely unchanged.

I was also struck by just how good these wines all were.  I know that's an odd thing to say -- of course I'm supposed to think they're good -- but the depth of richness, the minerality, the balance and the ability to age I think put this wine, vintage after vintage, up with the best rich, dry whites anywhere in the world.  Drop them in lineups with the best Alsatian rieslings, the best chardonnays from California and Burgundy, maybe a few top semillons... I think they'll shine.  And this in a region that was supposed only to be good for red wines!


Reflections on Tablas Creek's 2011 Best Winery Blog award

Wba-winery-WINNER-2011 On Saturday, at the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, VA, the winners of the 2011 Wine Blog Awards were announced.  One of them was us!  Thank you to everyone who voted; the award was 50% determined by votes from the public.  The other 50% was determined by the votes of the panel of expert judges who culled the list of nominees down to the five-ish finalists in each category.

The world of wine blogs is rich and diverse, and growing all the time.  The fact that speakers at the Wine Blog Awards included traditional media figures (and wine writer titans) Eric Asimov and Jancis Robinson shows just how far blogging has penetrated into the mainstream of wine discussion, and how blurry -- some at the conference would say irrelevant -- the boundary between wine writer and wine blogger has become.  As always, I learned a lot and developed some new favorites reading through the blogs of the other finalists.  And it's only fitting that Tom Wark's Fermentation won both "Best Overall Wine Blog" and "Best Industry Blog".  After all, Tom created the Wine Blog Awards back in 2007 and this was his first year eligible after handing the awards off to a nonprofit consortium two years ago.  Congratulations to all the winners.  The complete list:

Best Overall Wine Blog – Fermentation
Best New Wine Blog – Terroirist
Best Writing on a Wine Blog – Vinography
Best Winery Blog – Tablas Creek
Best Single Subject Wine Blog – New York Cork Report
Best Wine Reviews on a Wine Blog – Enobytes
Best Industry/Business Wine Blog – Fermentation
Best Wine Blog Graphics, Photography, & Presentation – Vino Freakism

I am proud that this was the fourth year in a row that the Tablas Creek blog was a finalist.  I'm also proud that the last year of the Tablas Creek blog has been more of a communal effort than ever before, including several great posts by my dad and contributions from two new authors: Assistant Winemaker Chelsea Magnusson, writing Notes from the Cellar, and Tasting Room Manager John Morris, writing View from the Tasting Room.  Each brings a different perspective to our effort to share our experiences as we make, sell, plan and reflect on Tablas Creek.

Thank you to all of you who take the time, whether regularly or occasionally, to read our thoughts.


What does it mean when a wine is in a "closed" phase? Think teenager...

Vintage_chart_Jul2011 I recently got a question from a friend who had been looking at the vintage chart that we keep on our Web site (a shot of the most current one is to the right; click on it to get a larger picture or on the link above for the PDF version).  Most wines are pretty straightforward: the start out young and exuberant, gradually lose some of the youthful lushness and often come into better balance for it, and eventually fade into old age.  Yes, this describes a life cycle.  Wines, while not sentient, are alive.

Not all wines improve with age, and in fact eventually all wines decline, though this may be many decades later.  But a wine's life cycle is not as simple as a linear curve, or even a bell curve, would suggest.  Some wines -- think most dry rosés -- are at their best when they're at their youngest, and fade relatively quickly.  Most ageable wines actually have curves with two peaks: a youthful peak a few years after bottling where the focus is on their lush, spicy fruit, and a mature peak some years later where the secondary flavors (nutty, caramel flavors for whites, and earthy, mineral flavors for reds) are more evident, and yet still in balance with fruit and spice that the wines displayed when they are younger. Sometimes wines transition gracefully from their youthful phase to their mature phase.  But mostly not.

Perhaps you've had a red wine which has lost some of its youthful fruit but still provides a mouthful of tannins.  Or one that seems less giving, aromatically, than it was some months before.  It's actually fairly common: many wines have an intermediate stage where they are less enjoyable than they were, and less than they will be.  This intermediate stage is often referred to as "closed" or "shut down". You can equally think of them as teenagers: no longer children, with the charms of youth, but not fully adult either, often gangly and awkward, prone to moodiness and unpredictability.

As it happens, two of our most important grapes are particularly notorious for this closed phase.  One grape is Roussanne, which has a bizarre tendency to turn dark and oxidized at about age 5, stay that way for several years, tasting heavy and tired.  Then, miraculously, it turns lighter again, much of its weight drops away, and you're left with an intensely mineral, nutty wine like very fine, dry sherry that the Perrins feel is the single best reflection of terroir that they make.  The other grape is Mourvedre, whose (underappreciated) youthful red fruit character can fade several years before its substantial tannins have resolved to the point that it is again in balance.  But the rewards of waiting are enormous, as Mourvedre produces wines that balance primary flavors like mineral, fruit and mocha with secondary flavors of leather, truffle and smoked meat.

We note wines that are in this in-between stage with the purple boxes in our vintage chart.  If you have a wine in that phase, try to be patient; it will come out the other side.  If you've opened one by mistake, give decanting a shot.  It often helps.  But the best thing to do, if you can, is wait.

PS For those who are interested, I participated in a remarkable dinner last summer that featured 21 different vintages and wines from Tablas Creek and Beaucastel.  In my writeup, I note some of the wines that are in their closed phases.  If you're the type who likes tasting notes and might want to know what "closed" tastes like, you might find it interesting.


Other Wines We Love: 2009 Bishop's Peak Pinot Noir

The next in an occasional series of our non-Tablas Creek wine discoveries.

I greatly admire Brian Talley and his team at Talley Vineyards.  They make great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir year in and year out, both their vineyard-designates (Rosemary's, Oliver's, and Rincon) and their estate wines.  The vineyards are farmed sustainably and the wines are made naturally (all with native yeasts) and taste unmanipulated and pure.  Brian has also been at the forefront of expanding the concept of sustainability to include addressing the challenges of vineyard and farm worker housing, and created the Mano Tinta line of wines to support the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers that he and his wife Johnine established in 2004.

Bishop Peak Pinot Noir generic1 Even better, all their wines are priced reasonably.  Everyone has their own price/value calculation that they make, and while their Bishop's Peak label (list retail prices between $15 and $20) are the most obvious values, even the most expensive Talley vineyard-designate wines strike me as bargains for their quality.  So, it was with some anticipation that I picked up a bottle of their Bishop's Peak Pinot Noir 2009 at our local Albertson's a month or so ago. 

The Bishop's Peak Pinot Noir was only $16 on the shelf, and I figured with the pedigree -- sourced from grapes around San Luis Obispo County, and made by the Talley winemaking team -- it was worth a shot.  It seriously over-delivered, to the point that I went back to the supermarket and bought a case, and have been enjoying it regularly this summer.  It's pure Pinot Noir, nicely mid-weight on the palate, with fresh, spicy fruit, good acidity, and just a tiny kiss of oak.  It has made several other California Pinots we've opened recently feel overripe and ponderous, and entry-level Bourgogne appellation Pinots from Burgundy taste thin and sharp.  Just a beautiful wine, at a bargain price.

On a related note, I've thought for a while that the Edna and Arroyo Grande Valleys, in the southern part of San Luis Obispo County, were ripe for discovery.  They have great soils, a cool but regular climate with lots of sun, and are in the heart of the Central Coast's prime real estate, about half an hour south of Paso Robles, half an hour north of the Santa Maria Valley, and forty-five minutes north of the Santa Ynez Valley.  Even more importantly, they have two wineries among the most highly acclaimed in their categories, to help make the area's reputation: Talley (for Burgundy varieties) and Alban Vineyards (for Rhone varieties).  It hasn't quite taken off yet the way that I've been expecting, but I have every belief it will in the next decade.  Meanwhile, enjoy that you can get wines from this tremendous growing region without an appellation-driven price surcharge.


Introducing Viticulturist Levi Glenn, who explains shoot thinning

We've had the same vineyard team here at Tablas Creek for the last fifteen years.  Neil Collins has overseen both the vineyard and the winemaking since 1998.  He is assisted by Winemaker Ryan Hebert and Vineyard Manager David Maduena, both of whom have been here since our 1997 harvest.

So it's with some excitement that we introduce Levi Glenn, who joins us this summer in the post of Viticulturist.  He brings a decade of experience managing vineyards in Napa and Sonoma, and has focused on converting vineyards from modern to biodynamic viticulture for the last five years.  Plus, he's got formal training, which none of the rest of us do, with a degree in Viticulture & Enology from Cal Poly.  We couldn't be more excited to add him to our team.  He introduces himself, and gives a brief overview of shoot thinning, in the below video.

We took some close-up photographs of the shoot thinning process as well.  The goal of shoot thinning is to select the two best shoots on each of the three spurs that we've left on each cordon.  As our vines are pruned double-cordon, this means we're selecting a dozen shoots per vine, each ideally with one cluster of grapes.  These shoots are going to provide the photosynthetic capacity, as well as the grape production, of the vine for the year.

This process completes the effort that we begin with our winter pruning of taking a three-dimensional plant and turning it into something more two-dimensional so that we can better ensure even access to sunlight as well as better flow-through of air.  Good air circulation reduces the potential for mildew or rot and allows whatever nutritional or antifungal treatments we think the vineyard needs to penetrate the canopy.  On the left is an un-thinned vine, so bushy it nearly obscures Levi, and on the right a vine post-thinning, fruit exposed to the light:

Shoot_bushy_0001  Shoot_thinning_0001

Shoots that don't have fruit, that exit the cordon horizontally rather than angled up, or that are too close to a better shoot, are pruned away.  Below, Levi points at the spurs that will be kept, with the others pruned away.  In this selection process, we're also thinking of the coming winter, when we'll select three of these shoots per cordon to become the next year's two-bud spurs.

Shoot_thinning_0003

The process this year is more challenging than normal.  The principal cause is our April frosts, which damaged many of the spurs that we left last winter and forced the plant to sprout from secondary buds that were not in ideal starting locations.  A secondary cause was the wet, cool, late spring, which delayed us getting into the vineyard until later in the year, when the long days, the sudden arrival of warmth in June and the abundant ground water have combined to produce explosive growth.

Despite our late start, we're more than 90% done with shoot thinning.  One more photo will give you a sense of the progress: thinned vines on the row on the left, with bushy vines awating thinning further up the row as well as on the row to the right:

Shoot_thinning_0005


A family stay in Vinsobres

By Robert Haas

Where?  Well, Vinsobres is in the Drôme, the next département north of the Vaucluse: kind of the northern limit of the southern Vallée du Rhône.  We were in the outskirts of Les Cornuds, a village -- patelin, if you will -- of about four houses just east of Vinsobres.  Vinsobres is the newest Crû in the southern Rhone, recently elevated from a Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation.  Besides wine, the Drôme is also known for its olives, where Nyons is France’s only olive AOC, and black truffles, which are harvested in the fall.  Look for Vinsobres on a map between the towns of Nyons (Drôme) and Vaison-la-Romaine (Vaucluse), just north of D94.

Vinsobres_house_with_vines

We were staying on a vineyard property that the Perrins, our friends and Tablas Creek partners, bought about ten years ago. The house was a ruin at the time of purchase, and the Perrins have lovingly restored it over the last 8 years.  What a treat!  The kids, 21 months, 3, and 6, learned to play boules and enjoyed (along with the adults) the swimming pool.  We visited nearby village farmers’ markets, ate in a few restaurants, enjoyed the visit of our Paso Robles friends, the Careys, and generally relaxed.  Well, relaxed as much as being around three young and active kids will allow.  Another view:

Vinsobres_house

Vinsobres is so named for the dark color of its wines, due in large part to a higher percentage of syrah than surrounding appellations (The most northerly of the southern Rhone’s top appellations, Vinsobres is friendlier to syrah than further south).  The better vineyards are planted almost 50/50 syrah and grenache noir, and the wines show the darker spicy character of syrah along with the chocolate cherry of grenache.  The Perrins are big believers in the potential of Vinsobres, and have purchased several parcels totaling nearly 150 acres over the last decade.

France_1

The house site was terrific.  It was on the top of a hill, had a wrap around patio with great vineyard views and good breezes.  We often breakfasted, lunched, and dined al fresco.   It struck me how similar the spacing and pruning of the vineyards around the house in Vinsobres are to ours at Tablas Creek.  The elevations of 300 to 500 meters and the many different exposures of the hillsides reminded us of Las Tablas/Adelaida in Paso Robles.  Even the soils and their geologic origins are similar to ours, with limestone boulders lining many of the roads.

Gigondas

During our stay Marc Perrin invited Jason and me to lunch at another recent Perrin acquisition, the restaurant l’Oustalet in Gigondas, where we lunched outdoors right in Gigondas center: an active place.  After lunch we explored the Perrins’ many Gigondas parcels, in locations from the top of the town, just under the rocky outcrops of the Dentelles de Montmirail (pictured above), to the town’s only Clos (the Clos des Tourelles just below the old town), to lower down vineyards in sandy soils, where they farm what they believe is the region’s only pre-phylloxera vineyard.  These grenache vines, planted on their own roots, are more than 130 years old.  Gigondas has a noble history and is the southern Rhone’s best known Crû after Châteauneuf du Pape.  The Perrins believe that its ability to show the feminine, floral side of grenache is unmatched.  The soils of Gigondas range across four different geological eras, and plantings are dominated by grenache noir.  A view down across the appellation, from the vineyard pictured above:

Gigondas_view

Since Jason had not yet seen them, we also went to visit the new cellar installations at Beaucastel and the greatly enlarged cave producing the Perrin and Nicolas Perrin wines.  Impressive! 

Beaucastel_foudres

The Perrin holdings and family are beehives of activity.  Besides Jean-Pierre and François, Jacques’ sons, there are seven grandchildren: Marc, Pierre, Thomas, Cécile, Charles, Matthieu, and César (who is working this summer and fall at Tablas Creek) involved in the family wine business.  The creative energy of the Perrin family is remarkable, and the efforts they are putting into elaborating the distinct characters of the diverse appellations of the southern Rhone perhaps their most ambitious and important work yet.

RZH and FP

We’re proud to be their partners at Tablas Creek.


Photo of the day: A green sea of vines under a blue sky

Early June, when I wrote about how cold our spring had been, seems like a lot longer ago than one month.  When I returned from a two-week trip to the Rhone (during which it was consistently in the 90s here in Paso Robles) the vineyard had grown so much that it was barely recognizable.  There are vineyard blocks where the canes have grown so much, so fast, that you can't see the ground between them.  Neil, Ryan, Levi, David and the vineyard crew are spending most of their time shoot thinning, but it will be another few weeks before they've caught up.  This last month of warm weather is exactly what we wanted to see.  We've nearly caught up to last year in degree days, and more importantly the vineyard looks like it's only a few weeks behind rather than a full month.

I snapped one photo of a hillside of Grenache that gives a sense of what things are like out there, with a sea of vines topped by a robin's egg blue summer sky.

Sea_of_green


Three new wines for a Fourth of July cookout

Ok, so it was really the 3rd of July yesterday, but it was still a 4th of July cookout, complete with lots of friends and their kids, burgers and dogs on the grill, deviled eggs, potato salad, and a lemon cake decorated like an American flag.  Sure, there were a few gourmet touches (it was French potato salad, we made gazpacho, and friends brought a delicious peach and local berry cobbler) and since most of the friends work in the wine community in Paso Robles great wines arrived with the guests.

For our part, I pulled three of our 2010's to try with the cookout.  It's not that easy to pair wines with the classic American cookout; beer is a more traditional pairing, and we finished plenty of those.  But in picking wines, it's important to go with wines with freshness, bright fruit, and no oak.  Pick things that can be drunk on their own, or with food.  Rosés are usually great bets, as are aromatic whites and reds that can take a bit of a chill.  I pulled one of each, including two wines that were bottled very recently and haven't yet been released.  All three showed great, and I thought I'd share some brief notes.

Cookout_wines_0001

  • 2010 Rosé (59% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 11% Counoise): We always bottle our Rosé early in the year so it's ready to go in the spring, which makes this wine the only one that's been released for a while.  Still, it's prime rosé season, and with temperatures over 100 yesterday in Paso Robles this bottle was the first to be finished. 2010 was a vintage with naturally bright acids and fresh flavors, and we backed off slightly on the extraction to showcase the fruit.  Nevertheless, it's a big rosé, with intense sour cherry and plum fruit, a spiciness that has reminded me of red chili pepper jelly, and a lingering minerality.  It went particularly well with the gazpacho.
  • 2010 Cotes de Tablas Blanc (54% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 8% Marsanne, 8% Roussanne): I think that this wine will be a major beneficiary of the Patelin de Tablas Blanc that we debuted in 2010.  Less intense lots that in previous years would have gone into the Cotes Blanc were moved into the Patelin Blanc, and the resulting wine is, to my tastes, clearly the best Cotes Blanc we've ever made.  It has concentrated stone fruit on the nose and front palate, but not really sweet... more pithy, like peach pit.  Then you get a creaminess to the texture that we've never achieved in the Cotes Blanc before, more like the texture of the Esprit Blanc.  And then, just when the wine threatens to get too luscious, a core of minerality, intensely saline, kicks in and re-establishes order.  Just a beautiful wine, and one that I think is going to wow a lot of people as it gets into circulation in the next month or so.
  • 2010 Patelin de Tablas (39% Syrah, 36% Grenache, 22% Mourvedre, 3% Counoise): Just bottled two weeks ago, and still a couple of months from its release, I pulled a bottle to check in.  It's still a little tight, but is this ever going to impress when it's released in September.  Darkly Syrah on the nose, with chalky minerality and black fruit.  Then lighter on its feet in the mouth than the nose would suggest, with blackberry and blueberry, nice acids keeping everything fresh, and a long, darkly fruity finish.  Absolutely no oak.  Terrific with the burgers and susprisingly good on its own.  Lots of people had this in their glasses at the end of the evening.

A few final thoughts on 2010 as a vintage.  This was, as anyone who followed the blog last year, a challenging vintage.  The summer was downright cold, harvest started three weeks late, and we were less than half complete by October 15th.  The weather finally turned around in late October, and beautiful conditions over the next month allowed us to complete harvest, though our last lot didn't come in until November 19th.  The wines have turned out great, with darkly serious reds and concentrated yet intensely mineral whites.  It's not a fruity, obvious vintage, but the wines, even the less-expensive wines like the Cotes Blanc and Patelin, strike me as candidates for some aging and worthy of pairing with serious meals.

It will be a pleasure to start to share these 2010's with our fans over the coming months.