By Robert Haas
Over the last 59 years I have been buying, selling, and putting wines in my cellar, first in Vermont, and then in California as well. And, of course, there is the house cellar and the storage cellar in each place. So I have an excuse for occasionally (actually all too often) losing track of what is in the cellar and discovering bottles that I had forgotten that I owned.
Sometimes those bottles are well over the hill and gone, but not too often, thankfully. Good well-made wines are remarkably sturdy and generously long-lived when well stored. Just the other night I discovered some Château La Tour Haut Vignoble 1970, a St. Estèphe crû bourgeois (now Château Tour Haut Vignoble) in our house cellar in Vermont that could have passed for the well-known grand premier crû Château Latour itself.
Sometimes even forgotten bottles of white wines turn out to be a revelation. Such was the case at a gathering with friends Mel and Ynez Kaplan at their house in Charlotte, VT last Saturday. Mel brought out a couple of bottles of Tablas Creek Clos Blanc 2000. He asked whether I thought that it would still be good. Mel has an underground cellar there so I said, “Let’s give it a try.” Clos Blanc was the name we attached to our reserve white blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, and Viognier before we introduced the Esprit de Beaucastel name in the 2001 vintage.
The wine was still remarkably youthful in character after 11 years in bottle: pale green-gold in color, with aromas of white flowers, honeysuckle and almonds. The palate was lively, rich and mouth-filling with citrusy, honey, nutty and saline flavors: a wine to match the best and a testament to the ageworthiness of Roussanne -- even from young vines -- and our terroir here at Tablas Creek. What a happy discovery!