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Tasting the wines in the spring 2014 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 five wines from the luscious 2012 vintage: the Cotes de Tablas Blanc, highlighting our best-ever Viognier vintage, the mineral-laced Grenache Blanc and powerful Roussanne, and two red blends: the Patelin de Tablas that shows off Syrah and the Cotes de Tablas that is based on Grenache.

Yesterday I opened the wines to taste with my dad and Winemaker Neil Collins 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:

14 Spring Shipment for Blog


  • Production Notes: 2012 was a banner year for Grenache Blanc, both in quantity and quality, with the year's strengths (generous fruit and good acidity) playing to the grape's natural strengths. For the varietal Grenache Blanc, we chose lots that were fermented stainless steel (for brightness) and foudre (for roundness), then blended and bottled in the summer of 2013.
  • Tasting notes: A classic Grenache Blanc nose of preserved lemon and wet rocks, with a sweeter (mandarin orange?) citrus coming out with air.  The mouth follows through with the citrus promised on the nose, with marmalade and citrus leaf, chalky minerality and a little sweet anise spice at the end.  Fully dry on the long, rich finish.  Drink now and for the next three years.
  • List Price: $27 VINsider Price: $21.60


  • Production Notes: The Cotes de Tablas Blanc is our showcase for the floral, lush fruit of Viognier, and the 2012 vintage was our best ever for this tricky grape. The result was Viognier with an appealing creamy lushness but great balance, and the additions of the mineral, high-acid Grenache Blanc and the gentle elegance of Marsanne served to polish the Viognier rather than change its character. The resulting blend is 34% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 30% Marsanne and 6% Roussanne, all aged in stainless steel.
  • Tasting notes: An immediately appealing nose of honey, pear, tarragon, jasmine and peach.  In the mouth it is luscious with flavors of peaches and cream, a hint of gingery spice, and then finishing clean and fresh, with those classic Grenache Blanc acids coming out at the end. Drink now and for the next five years.
  • List Price: $27 VINsider Price: $21.60


  • Production Notes: 2012’s generosity was kind to the powerful and sometimes austere Roussanne grape, bringing lushness and openness to complement its characteristic structured profile. We fermented the Roussanne lots that were selected for our varietal bottling roughly 50% in foudre, 35% in small, older neutral oak barrels, and 15% in new demi-muids. The selected lots were blended in April 2013 then aged through the subsequent harvest before bottling in February 2014.
  • Tasting notes: A wonderful nose of honey, nuts, dried, spiced pineapple and lemon zest: think baklava. In the mouth, it's characteristically Roussanne, with honey, pears and a kiss of sweet oak, but friendler than normal at this stage, with an appealing saline note coming out on the finish. Drink over the next 3-4 years, or wait until 2020 and drink over the next decade.
  • List Price: $35 VINsider Price: $28


  • 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 August 2013 and aged in bottle to round into its structure.
  • Tasting notes: An exuberantly pretty nose of tangy berries, like raspberries marinated in balsamic vinegar, with an appealing foresty note, pepper spice and a gentle floral character. The mouth is complex, medium bodied, spicy, with juniper and sage notes, marinade and dark fruit.  The finish is clean and mineral-laced. Drink now and for the next five to seven years.
  • List Price: $20 VINsider Price: $16
  • Production Notes: The Cotes de Tablas is our take on a more traditional Chateauneuf du Pape blend, heavier on Grenache and Syrah and lighter on Mourvedre than our Esprit de Beaucastel. 2012's long hangtime and gradual ripening were excellent for both Grenache and Syrah, whose complementary flavors balance juiciness and freshness with structure and spice. The components were harvested separately, then blended in June 2013 and aged in foudre until its bottling in February 2014.
  • Tasting notes: A deeper and more assertive nose than the Patelin, lush, with dark red plum and currant fruit, cola and licorice, very Grenache.  The mouth shows an initial sweet Grenache attack, with strawberry confiture and sweet spice, then the Syrah asserts control, with steely tannins.  Notes of leather and aged saucisson come out on the long, rich finish. Drink now or for the next fifteen years.
  • List Price: $35 VINsider Price: $28


  • 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 2012.  The wine was bottled in August 2013 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, deep and complex, rich and spicy, with black raspberry, sandalwood, leather and grilled meat dripping notes. The mouth shows brooding dark fruit and plush tannins: absolutely luscious without being sweet or simple in any way. The finish is long 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 2019 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 13th, is available on our VINsider News Page.