By Lauren Phelps
Today, we were joined by many of our most enthusiastic wine club members for our annual futures tasting, which provides the first opportunity for anyone outside the cellar to taste (from barrel) our newest vintage of Esprit de Tablas and Panoplie.
For a little background, 13 years ago we began offering wine en primeur, which is a time-honored French tradition most often associated with first-growth Bordeaux estates. In outstanding vintages, valued customers are offered the opportunity to secure a limited quantity of sought-after wines at a special price in advance of bottling and subsequent general release.
Our focus today was on the 2014 vintage, which we have felt since blending may turn out to be one of our best. We showed our two top red wines from the vintage, the Esprit de Tablas and Panoplie, each of which was blended this past spring. They have been resting in foudre until this morning's tasting, and are only about halfway through their barrel aging; they'll remain in foudre until bottling next summer.
Jason Haas provided a bit of context for the tasting by summarizing how 2014 compared to other recent vintages, while Viticulturist Levi Glenn and Winemaker Neil Collins dove into the details of the challenges and opportunities that 2014 presented in the vineyard and cellar. Finally, Robert Haas shared his thoughts on how these wines have come together and express themselves, and where they may go in the future.
The 2014 vintage produced wines that are notably luscious, but with good tannins behind them. Jason compared it to 2007, a similarly intense vintage with plenty of fruit balanced by substantial but ripe tannins. We think that the wines will be impressive young (they showed very well today) but will also be among the most ageworthy we've made.
We find that often the most interesting topics are raised by the participants in our events, and very much enjoyed the lively question and answer session that followed the vintage discussion and tasting.
Because we feel it is important to taste these wines both on their own and with food, we asked Chef Jeffery Scott to make a dish that would pair well with them. He chose a coq au vin, braised in syrah, and we contributed the 2008 Esprit de Beaucastel out of our library to give guests a chance to see how a (relatively) mature version of the wine might look. [Editor's note: we're working with Chef Jeff to get the recipe, or at least a version that doesn't require a 3-day preparation of the stock, and will post it here on the blog if and when we do.]
We hold this tasting every year, always in early December, if you're setting your calendars for next year. And if you missed the tasting, you haven't missed your opportunity to buy the wines at their futures-only discount. Members interested in ordering wine en primeur should contact our Wine Club team no later than Monday either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 805.237.1231 x36.