Introducing the Dianthus Rosé
We conduct a vertical tasting of Syrah in honor of Paso Robles Syrah Month

Tasting the wines in the spring 2013 VINsider Club shipment

Every six months, we send out a six-bottle shipment of wines to the members of our VINsider Wine Club.  While the fall shipment showcases our signature wines, and includes our Esprit and our Esprit Blanc, the spring shipment is more eclectic, highlighted by the Panoplie, our elite wine made in the image of Beaucastel's iconic Hommage à Jacques Perrin.  Beyond that we include wines we're particularly excited about.  This year, we chose the Cotes de Tablas Blanc from the intense, low-yielding 2011 vintage, the 2012 vintage of our Mourvedre-based estate rosé Dianthus [see here for an explanation of the new name], the 2011 Patelin de Tablas that has been winning fans with its freshness and great value, and two varietal reds from the elegant, mineral-laced 2010 vintage: Grenache and Syrah.

Late this week I opened the wines in the upcoming shipment to write the tasting notes that will be included in the package, and thought that readers of the blog might like an advance peek.  The lineup:

Spring 2013 VINsider Shipment


  • Production Notes: The Cotes de Tablas Blanc is our showcase for the floral, lush fruit of Viognier, but in 2011 our Viognier crop was decimated by frost. The result was a tiny crop with intense flavors, which we balanced with the freshness and minerality of Grenache Blanc, the mineral and melon flavors of Marsanne, and the structure of Roussanne.  This is a uniquely powerful Cotes Blanc, in many ways like a mini-Esprit Blanc. The resulting blend is 27% Viognier, 26% Grenache Blanc, 25% Marsanne and 22% Roussanne, all aged in stainless steel.
  • Tasting notes: A serious nose, minty with stone fruits and honey lurking underneath. The mouth is broad and rich, peaches and cream, but dry, with a very long finish with a hint of tannin, cream, and rocks, nicely saline at the end. Drink now and for the next five years.
  • List Price: $27 VINsider Price: $21.60


  • Production Notes: A new name for our estate rosé, but following our traditional Bandol-style blend of 60% Mourvèdre, 25% Grenache and 15% Counoise. The core of the Dianthus comes from a co-fermented lot from our nursery block, planted in 1994, supplemented by saignées (bleedings) from other Mourvèdre and Grenache lots. We've been backing off on the skin contact on our rosé the last few years, but this is still a deeply colored, flavorful rosé that shows the richness of the classic 2012 vintage. After roughly 36 hours on the skins, the fermentation was completed in stainless steel.
  • Tasting notes: Cranberry in color, with an expressive nose of watermelon rind, rose petals, plum and mineral. The mouth is rich but vibrant, with flavors of wild strawberry, pomegranate, plum and lime, and a long, rich finish that is both fresh and spicy. Drink now through the end of 2014.
  • List Price: $27 VINsider Price: $21.60


  • Production Notes: Patelin is French slang for "neighborhood" and the Patelin de Tablas is our wine sourced from our many great neighborhood Rhone vineyards. We base the wine on the spicy savoriness of Syrah, with Grenache providing juiciness and freshness, Mourvedre structure, and just a dash of Counoise. Fermented in a mix of upright oak fermenters and stainless steel tanks and aged in foudre and stainless steel, it was bottled in June 2012 and aged in bottle to round into its structure.
  • Tasting notes: Aromatic and spicy on the nose, with red raspberry and cherry vieing with pepper spice and a gentle floral character. In the mouth, juicy red and black fruit flavors are highlighted by tangy acidity and a pronounced mineral character, with the finish reverting back to red fruit and spice. Drink now and for the next five to seven years.
  • List Price: $20 VINsider Price: $16

2010 SYRAH

  • Production Notes: Syrah is a cool-loving grape, and thrived in 2010, which was our coolest vintage of the last decade. The result was a harvest about three weeks later than normal, with Syrah picked largely in the last week of September and the first two weeks of October. In the cellar we fermented the Syrah in open-top stainless steel fermenters and upright 1500-gallon oak casks on the skins for an average of ten days before moving the wine to barrel to complete its fermentation. We blended the wine in June 2011 and aged it in a 1200-gallon foudre and a few smaller, neutral barrels, before re-blending and bottling it in May 2012.
  • Tasting notes: The nose shows rich, round and creamy: classic cool-climate "butter in a butcher shop" Syrah, with additional aromas of licorice, white pepper, crushed rock and a little cedary oak.  The initial impression in the mouth is one of freshness, but it packs a punch of flavor with blackberry, creamy minerality, mint and substantial but fine-grained tannins. Hold for 6 months or more, and then drink for another fifteen.
  • List Price: $40 VINsider Price: $32


  • Production Notes: 2010's long hangtime and gradual ripening were excellent for Grenache, as its tendency toward candied red fruit was counteracted by the minerality and freshness from this unusually cool vintage.  Harvested thoughout October and into early November, Grenache was fermented in upright wooden and closed stainless steel fermenters, then moved to neutral barrels, blended in June 2011 and aged in foudre until its bottling in May 2012.
  • Tasting notes: A composed, high-toned nose of mineral, plum compote, and cola.  In the mouth it shows expressive sweet fruit, crushed rock, and wild strawberry, reined in by Grenache's classic front-palate tannins.  The finish opens back up with mouth-watering acidity and savory flavors of watermelon rind and cherry pit. Drink now or for the next fifteen years.
  • List Price: $40 VINsider Price: $32


  • Production Notes: As always, Panoplie is selected from lots chosen in the cellar for their richness, concentration and balance, always heaviest on Mourvedre's rich meatiness and firm structure. Each lot was fermented individually before being selected, blended and moved to foudre to age in July 2011.  The wine was bottled in August 2012 and has been aged in bottle in our cellars since then.  The blend is 60% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache and 10% Syrah.
  • Tasting notes: On the nose, a wealth of both fruity and savory aromas, including blueberries, plum pit and olive tapenade. The mouth shows a lovely melted licorice character, rich yet tangy, with a saline note characteristic of many 2010's, and a spice note in balance with fruit and mineral components. The finish is long, clean and complex, with beautiful balance. We expect it to drink well for another year or two, then tighten up for a few years before reopening around 2018 and drinking well for two to three decades.
  • List Price: $95 VINsider Price: $76

More details on the shipment, including shipping dates, press on the wines, and information about the spring shipment tasting party on Sunday, April 28th, is available on our VINsider News Page.