A vertical tasting of Tablas Creek flagship red wines, from 1997 Rouge to 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel

Last week, we had the pleasure of one of Francois Perrin's semi-annual visits to Tabas Creek.  In this immediate post-harvest time, we tasted through the cellar, did our best to evaluate the 2010 components, and took one last look at the 2009 reds before they start to go into bottle.

We also took the opportunity to look back, and pulled a bottle from our library of each vintage of our signature red wines.  Of course, when we were first starting, we only had one red wine, but we pulled that anyway.  We were impressed with the life still left in even the oldest of these wines, and thought it would be fun to share our notes on how they are tasting now.  First, a look at the lineup:


At this tasting, in addition to Francois, were me, my dad, Neil, and Chelsea.  Note that we didn't taste a wine from 2001, when we declined to make an Esprit de Beaucastel after spring frosts scrambled up the ripening cycle.  We declassified our entire production into the 2001 Cotes de Tablas (which made it one of the greatest bargains we've ever produced; if you have any, drink up; it's at a great stage but probably won't last much longer).

  • 1997 Tablas Rouge: A nose that shows cherry and eucalyptus, with some of the deeper, slightly balsamic character of age.  Still deep in color, though starting to brick a little.  Quite fresh in the mouth for a wine of this age from such young vines, with good acids framing cherry fruit, and a little drying tannin on the finish.  Not the most polished or concentrated wine we've made, but still totally viable.
  • 1998 Rouge: Aromatics are cool and dark, showing more loam and spice than fruit.  The color is a touch light and shows noticeable bricking.  The wine is a little simple, perhaps, but beautifully balanced, and would be a great dining companion.  Neil called it "Nordic".  Some appealing cocoa notes come out on the finish.  Just 13.8% alcohol, from quite a cool year.
  • 1999 Reserve Cuvee: A pretty, dark, youthful color.  Definitely more marked on the nose by Mourvedre's meatiness, Francois immediately said "more animal".  The mouth has a very nice balance between fruit that is round and lush and structure that is cool and mineral.  Must be pretty close to its peak.  The finish shows perhaps a little rustic, but we all thought it would be tremendous right now with osso bucco or cassoulet.  It opened as we were tasting; try decanting if you're drinking one now.
  • 2000 Esprit de Beaucastel: An animal, meaty, almost gamey nose with plums coming out with some air.  It's nicely rich in the mouth, though showing more signs of age than the 1999.  Still not at all tired, with complex notes of olive and tapenade coming out on the long, slightly drying finish.  This too got better with air; we'd recommend a decant.  And with its notable earthiness, it's always been a great ringer for a lineup of old-school Chateauneuf-du-Papes.
  • 2002 Esprit de Beaucastel: A nice mineral, chalky, dark fruit profile on the nose, much more polished than any of the previous wines.  At 57% Mourvedre, our highest ever, it's perhaps unsurprising that it's still so youthful.  In the mouth, rich, full, mature, deep, and ripe.  Notably lush, and much more like our current releases than the ones that preceded it.  Cocoa and chalky tannins at the back end, with lots of length.  Still years ahead of it.
  • 2003 Esprit de Beaucastel: A bright mint chocolate on the nose, very appealing.  The mouth was rich with sweet dark red currant and plum fruit, but enlivened by great acids.  Quite a long, luscious finish.  This wine had been closed for a while, and even this summer showed well but was overshadowed by the 2002 and 2004.  Not right now; this was perhaps the most impressive wine of the tasting.
  • 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel: A nice, restrained nose.  The mouth is in a good place, with beautiful acids, evident minerality and a long finish of chocolate-covered cherries.  Still very fresh, and pretty.  Not as big a wine as 2003 or 2005, but great balance.  It should continue to age gracefully, and we all expected that it would just be better a year from now.
  • 2005 Esprit de Beaucastel: A rustic nose of grilled meat, licorice and a bright note that Chelsea identified as mandarin.  Great sweet fruit in the mouth but big tannins, too.  The finish is a little disjointed right now, with the tannins and the acids reverberating off each other a bit.  It's going to be a very nice wine, but we'd recommend you forget it for a few years to let it integrate.
  • 2006 Esprit de Beaucastel: Very different from the 2005, pretty, clean, bright purple fruit, nicely mineral.  In the mouth, it's seamless.  Boysenberry and blackberry fruit, medium weight, nicely integrated chewy tannins, and a dark, almost soy-like tone that lends depth.  The acids come out on the long, rich finish.  Very pretty now, and looking forward to a bright future.
  • 2007 Esprit de Beaucastel: A dense black-red.  Powerful but somehow closed on the nose, with more mineral and rocks (and a little alcohol) coming through than fruit.  The mouth shows lots of sweet fruit, very lush, and big but ripe tannins.  There is a texture to the tannins that Neil commented reminded him of melted licorice.  It's impressive now but we'd recommend that you wait if you possibly can, and check back in in a couple of years for more complexity and better integration.
  • 2008 Esprit de Beaucastel: An open nose of red fruit, perhaps even strawberry, a lighter red fruit than is typical of Mourvedre.  The nose is given complexity by a balsamic, mineral note.  In the mouth, sweet fruit, medium body, and very open, forward and pure, almost Pinot Noir-like.  Reminiscent of the 2006 at a comparable age; we expect the 2008 to also darken and put on weight with some time in bottle.  Enjoy now for its purity, but wait for depth.
  • 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel (from barrel): All of the 2009 reds showed well, but the 2009 Esprit was the star, outpacing even the Panoplie at this stage.  A dark, mineral, blackberry and cocoa nose, with flavors of crushed rock, licorice, lots of spice, and black raspberry.  The texture is wonderful, with great, granular tannins that reminded Neil of powdered sugar.  Francois thought this was the best Esprit he'd ever tasted at this stage.

It's always valuable having one of the Perrins over at Tablas Creek, and Francois, who has spent the last three decades as the principal architect of Beaucastel's wines, brings a particularly interesting perspective. That he was as impressed as he was with the 2009's bodes very well for their quality.  One more photo, of Francois Perrin and Bob Haas, at the end of the vertical tasting:


From my own perspective, as much fun as the vertical tasting was, I was most pleased by how well the 2010's showed.  It's typically a difficult time to taste, a few months after harvest while wines are just finishing primary fermentation and just starting malolactic fermentation.  But with the exception of Grenache -- which in my experience is always problematic for at least three months after harvest -- all the red varietals showed richness, balance, and a persistent saline character that seems to be a hallmark of the limestone soils here, and which frame the fruit and structural elements in all the wines.  I have never been as impressed with a vintage at this early stage, and am actively looking forward to getting to know the components we have in the cellar as we start the blending process.

Tasting the Fall 2010 "Collector's Edition" Wines

Last fall, we debuted the VINsider Wine Club Collector's Edition.  Members of this wine club get three bottles of older vintages of Esprit de Beaucastel and Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc each fall (as well as a few more bottles of the newest Esprit and Esprit Blanc) in addition to their club shipment.  They also have the opportunity to buy a little more.  The club has been a great success from the beginning, and we've maxed our our capacity each of the last two years.  Our membership is now up to about 450 people.

Collector's Edition members will receive the 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel and the 2006 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc this fall.  These wines were ones that showed beautifully in recent vertical tastings, both at stages where some of the primary flavors of youth had matured into deeper, more complex tones, but which should still provide another decade or more of good drinking.  I thought it would be fun to share the tasting notes from our recent tastings.

06 Esprit Blanc Bottle Shot ESPRIT DE BEAUCASTEL BLANC 2006

  • Production Notes: Above-average winter rains and a cool spring got 2006 off to a wet and late start. A moderate summer followed, and the resulting harvest was delayed but unhurried, with beautiful weather persisting into November. Wines showed notable elegance, pure flavors, medium body and comparatively lower alcohol levels. The 2006 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc featured 65% Roussanne, primarily from neutral barrels, at its core. 30% Grenache Blanc provides roundness and distinctive anise aromatics, and 5% Picpoul Blanc adds bright acids that emphasize the wine's mineral and saline characteristics. The wine was blended in April 2007 and bottled in June 2007.
  • 2010 Tasting Notes: The color at age four is youthful: a clear pale gold with a hint of green. The nose shows more savory than fruity, with notes of mineral, saline, honey and menthol. The mouth is rich and warm, with flavors of lanolin, rose petal, new boards and sweet spices. It feels both seamless and – despite its intensity – weightless. On the lingering finish, the wine has both brighter lemon and darker butterscotch flavors. It would love rich food like crab, lobster, or ginger pork, and should drink well for at least the next three years and likely much longer.
  • Quantity Produced: 1800 cases
  • Library Price: $45 VINsider Price: $36

Esprit04_lores ESPRIT DE BEAUCASTEL 2004

  • Production Notes: 2004 was our third consecutive drought year, marked by low yields, a warm spring and very early flowering. A fairly mild summer morphed into a late-August heat wave, with much of the harvest completed by mid-September. The fall weather cooled down, and we waited a long time for Mourvèdre, suspending harvest for two weeks after a mid-October rainstorm. For the 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel, we balanced the relatively high proportion (50%) of Mourvèdre with 27% Syrah for color, black fruit, and mineral, 17% Grenache for freshness, warmth, and sweet spice, and 6% Counoise for openness. The wine was blended in August 2005, aged in foudre and bottled in July 2006.
  • 2010 Tasting Notes: The first impression is decidedly Old World, with a deep, dark nose of laquered wood, rosemary, spiced plum and cloves. As it sits in the glass, more fruit emerges with cherry, black raspberry and gingerbread spice. The palate shows beautiful balance, with flavors of roasted meat, mineral, fig, pomegranate, black cherry and crushed rock. It’s a very pure and self-assured wine; Francoise Perrin called it a “vin carré”: literally a “square wine”. It has a long finish of plum, herbs and mineral. The wine is at the beginning of what should be a wonderful decade-long maturity. Try it with a rack of lamb.
  • Quantity Produced: 3250 cases
  • Library Price: $60 VINsider Price: $48

The Collector's Edition is full for 2010, but anyone who is interested can read more on our Web site, and can get onto the waiting list for 2011.  We expect to be able to add another 150 or so members next year, and we'll take them off the waiting list in the order in which we receive their requests.

Finally, anyone who missed the notes on the other wines in the fall 2010 wine club shipment can find them here.

Côtes (de Tablas), Côte (d’Or) and the pleasures of aged wine

By Robert Haas

The age of a wine is a relative thing. Some wines are old young and others are young old. Many great red wines are rushed to the table too young these days. Most restaurants and retailers do not have the financing or space to lay down wines and we, as consumers, have the same problems or simply lack the patience to wait. And many wines, maybe more now than ever, are made to consume young. Sometimes, however, we are presented with opportunities.

I recently tasted our 2001 Côtes de Tablas at the delightful Bistro Henry in Manchester, VT. Chris Kleeman, Henry’s good friend, takes charge of the wines and decides in some cases to cellar some of his choices for later release to the list – certainly a rare luxury these days. The 2001 Côtes is an interesting historical landmark. Since we did not make any Esprit de Beaucastel in 2001, only a little Founders’ Reserve, the Côtes was a blend of virtually the entire vineyard. The 2001 Côtes was still showing quite youthfully, with good color and absolutely no hint of bricky edges. It showed good blackberry, gooseberry and strawberry fruit on the nose and palate, was poised and bright with some dusty tannins at the back end.

What would happen today if we blended our entire vineyard into one wine? We try this each year, for fun, in part because our original intention for Tablas Creek was to make just one red and one white wine each year. Probably the result would be deeper and richer than it was in 2001; the 2001 vintage was marked by April frosts and uneven ripening, with the Grenache component probably the weakest of our three red varieties, and the vines were still young. Yet my feeling was that the 2001 Côtes de Tablas still has a long life ahead of it. At any rate, it was fun and interesting.

Maltroie Recently I had another wonderful and very different tasting experience: drinking a great mature wine from a little known and often much underrated premier crû vineyard in Burgundy. I was preparing wines for a tasting of old Burgundies when I ran across a 1985 Chassagne-Montrachet La Maltroie from Georges Deleger that had no following vintages in my cellar because Georges retired shortly thereafter. Barbara and I had it for dinner with some rare cold beef filet. The wine was brilliant. Still deeply colored and chock full of cherry and raspberry fruit, rich on the palate with beautiful ripe and rounded tannins, and handsomely structured. The sensation brought me back 25 years to the actual tasting in Deleger’s cellar in the spring of 1986. I was blown away. It was the first 1985 red Burgundy that I had tasted in the barrel. Even though I expected 1985 to be a great vintage I was not prepared for that terrific a red wine to come from a Chassagne vineyard (Chassagne-Montrachet is better known for its brilliant whites). That spring trip brought me to many other terrific wines from that lovely and long-lived vintage.

We are still enjoying a number of 1985 Burgundies today, wines that I tasted and bought back then, but this particular experience last week brought me back to a clear sensory remembrance of the scene in Georges Deleger’s cellar in Chassagne that spring day in 1986.

One of the traditional attributes of a great wine is its ability to improve with age. Great wine changes over time and has a life of its own: youth, adolescence, maturity, senility and finally death. In general, the greater the wine, the longer that each period lasts. Tablas Creek is still too young a vineyard for us to predict long-term aging. Give us another fifty years of experience. But tastings like my recent one of our 2001 Côtes de Tablas – a wine from young vines that was never meant for long aging – make me think we show promise. And wines like the 1985 La Maltroie remind me why it matters.

21 Beaucastel and Tablas Creek wines from 1985-2007 at one amazing dinner

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in a dinner in Los Angeles with a group of wine collectors who call themselves the "X-Pensive Winos".  They are a group of friends who met largely online and who share a love of wine and a love of challenging themselves and each other.  They organize their monthly events in turns, and each is on a theme.  Themes can be based on varietal, on style, on provenance, or around a winery or winemaker, and each member is expected to contribute wine out of their cellars as appropriate to the theme.  They invite winery principals to participate when the theme is appropriate.

I was the lucky recipient of an invitation from one of the group's members who happens also to be a Tablas Creek wine club member.  After a few months of back-and-forth on ideas, we settled on an exploration of Tablas Creek and Beaucastel, with side-by-site pairings when possible and appropriate.  The dinner was hosted at Bistro LQ, Chef Laurent Quenioux's outpost in an otherwise unremarkable area on Beverly Blvd. south of West Hollywood and east of Beverly Hills.  There were a ridiculous number of wines (21 in all) spanning two colors, two continents and more than two decades.  I found the experience fascinating, and thought it would be interesting to comment a little on the wines that we tasted and also share a few general thoughts on what the wines suggested about Tablas Creek as reflected through Beaucastel.

First, I should mention the food, which was extraordinarily inventive and also excellent.  I had two favorite dishes, from opposite ends of the culinary spectrum.  The first was a geoduck clam, thinly sliced, over sea urchin tapioca pudding with yuzu kosho.  The chewiness and relative simplicity of the geoduck contrasted in an amazing way with the creamy, unctuous, slightly sweet and complex urchin.  It's a dish I could never have even imagined, let alone made, but it played well with the complex flavors of the older Beaucastel whites.  My other favorite was a homemade papardelle with rabbit meatballs, salsify, olives and cipollini onions.  It was very traditional, absolutely classic, and not mucked about with.  As a pairing with the flight of older Beaucastel reds, it couldn't have been better.

Aperitifs (unusual Tablas Creek whites)
  • 2009 Vermentino: Just bottled about 6 weeks before, in its first public appearance.  Scheduled for the fall 2010 VINsider club shipment.  Citrus, spice and mineral, a little riper than the 2008 Vermentino, but not as big as 2007.  Less herby than many of our Vermentinos, more citrus.  Key lime?
  • 2008 Grenache Blanc: I think this is the best Grenache Blanc we've ever made.  Bright, rich and mineral all at once.  Preserved lemon, wet rocks, and broad texture.  Very long finish.
  • 2008 Antithesis Chardonnay: Rich but unoaked, apple and sweet spice, mid-weight, with minerality coming out on the finish.  Nice core of acidity cleans up what is a pretty robust white.  A very good vintage for Antithesis (as is typically the case with our cooler years).
First flight (Beaucastel and Tablas Creek whites)
  • 1987 Beaucastel Vieilles Vignes: A revelation for most of the table, who had never had a truly old Beaucastel white.  It was clean and vibrant, minerally, slightly nutty, saline, and lemony.  A very different texture from young Roussannes: much less of the oiliness that is characteristic of the varietal.
  • 1997 Beaucastel Vieilles Vignes: By contrast to the previous wine, which was looked in the glass like a young wine, this was almost orange, with a notable oxidation on the nose.  Still, it didn't taste dead to me, with flavors of creme caramel (burnt sugar), thick texture, and decent acidity.  I actually think this was too young, and will come back around.
  • 2003 Beaucastel Vieilles Vignes: Rich and tropical, with just the first hint of oxidation.  Very thick texture compared to the first two wines.  Lots of honey and spice, in need of big food.  Worked great with the urchin.
  • 2002 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc: Fresher than the 2003 Vieilles Vignes which immediately preceded it, a little more acidity and a little less weight.  A little quiet on the nose, beautiful, rich and balanced on the palate with a lingering flavor of fresh honey.
  • 2008 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc: Notably different that any of the other whites, much more floral with citrus blossom and honeysuckle.  Good intensity but almost delicate on the palate, flitting between white flowers, fresh honey and herbs.
Second flight (Older Beaucastel reds)
  • 1985 Beaucastel: This felt to me like it was right at the end of its drinking peak and just starting to dry out (particularly by comparison to the next wine).  It was still wonderful, with fully mature tannins, a nice combination of plums and leather and Provencal herbs.
  • 1989 Beaucastel: Much brighter fruit and more evident tannin than the 1985.  Has a wonderful vibrancy both to the fruit and the acidity.  Just a joy to drink (as it has been each time I've had it).  My favorite wine of the evening.
  • 1998 Beaucastel: Definitely young and still not really opened up.  A much darker, more monolithic nose of soy and mineral and creme de cassis.  Still quite tannic.  Going to be great but still a few years away, I thought.
  • 1995 Beaucastel "Hommage a Jacques Perrin": Quite youthful but not as polished, to my taste, as the three previous wines.  Noticeably tannic with flavors more of rosemary and underbrush than of fruit.  Didn't quite have the lushness behind this that the 1998 did; not sure if it's a stage (this wine is 70% Mourvedre, far more than any of the others) or if the structure will continue to dominate the fruit.
Third flight (middle-aged Beaucastel and Tablas Creek reds)
  • 2000 Beaucastel: Clean and pretty, almost delicate on the nose, with flavors of cherry skin and a herbs.  Not a blockbuster, but beautifully balanced and quite elegant.
  • 2000 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel: Deep, meaty and minty, with a nose of cassis and fig.  Still quite tannic and thick with youthful fruit.  Sort of like a more rustic version of the 1998 Beaucastel.  Several people at the table commented that if they'd had the two 2000's blind they would have guessed wrong which was Californian and which was the Chateauneuf.
  • 2001 Beaucastel: Not giving much up on the nose right now.  Some mint, some cherry skin, some mineral.  On the palate, hard as nails, though there is a very promising underlying warmth to the fruit that suggests good things to come.  Definitely wait.
  • 2002 Tablas Creek Panoplie: Delicious.  Classic Mourvedre flavors of plums, currants and milk chocolate (the wine is 80% Mourvedre).  Still quite young, but with nice chewy tannins.  Not a lot of meaty secondary flavors yet, but I suspect they're lurking there for the right time to come out.
Fourth flight (young Beaucastel and Tablas Creek reds)
  • 2005 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel: Rich and earthy, with mint, sweet spices, roasted meat and still quite a lot of tannin.  A little wild brambly character on the finish is a surprising and appealing diversion.
  • 2007 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel: Plays back and forth between brighter and deeper flavors, from sweet red fruit (raspberry?) to soy and even darker aromas.  Lots of sweet spices.  A blockbuster wine with a long, exciting life ahead of it.
  • 2007 Beaucastel: A treat for me.  The nose has a seriousness to it, soy and crushed rocks and dark berries.  The mouth is rich and dense with a current of mineral coolness running through it that I can still remember vividly, four days later.  Just gorgeous, and while it showed great, strikes me as totally uncompromising in its ageworthiness.
I didn't really take any notes on the two dessert wines (2006 Tablas Creek Vin de Paille "Quintessence" and 2006 Tablas Creek Vin de Paille "Sacrerouge") but then again I also didn't really eat much dessert.  I was still going back to the cheese course and revisiting the 2007 reds.

For me, the family resemblance between the Tablas Creek and Beaucastel wines was illustrated powerfully, and a lot more salient than the compare-contrast differences that I suspect some of the group was expecting.  I would have liked to try the 2005 Beaucastel alongside the 2005 Esprit, but it was a last-minute scratch from the lineup.  Still, 21 wines, none corked, only one oxidized (and that one might just be going through a stage).  And a really wonderful evening.  I am encouraged about the long-term ageability of the wines we're making, and -- as often happens to me around Beaucastel -- humbled by the quality and personality of the wines we're inevitably compared to.

All Things Consumed: Taking A Closer Look at Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc

Each spring we release our flagship white wine, the Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, to the wholesale market.  In advance of its arrival, and in an effort to further celebrate its release, the wine is typically introduced to individual states via a presale, where it is offered to restaurants and retailers at a slightly discounted price in an effort to encourage them to bring the wines in at the beginning of their releases.  As we always do these presales at the same time each year, they are also a great opportunity to look back as we look forward.  And I think that Roussanne-based wines (such as our Esprit Blanc) are still sufficiently unknown quantities to most restaurateurs and retailers -- let alone consumers -- that we put a lot of effort into creating appealing events to educate and excite potential buyers. 

To that endeavor to come up with an additional measure that was both compelling and, well, fun, I thought it would be a good idea to stage a multi-vintage tasting of our Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc.  We have been making the Esprit Blanc since 2001 and, out in the market, I frequently note its subtle nuances, its depth and length, and its Dylan-like evolution and ageability.  However, it is rare that I have the opportunity to put our wine where my mouth is, so to speak.    

Thankfully, and as noted by Eric Asimov in his recent piece, there are brave, bright, and boundary-pushing retailers today who are also willing to champion some of the wine world's less mainstream offerings, such as our Esprit Blanc.  Shortly after conceiving the idea, I called Solano Cellars (a Berkeley outfit I consider to be representative of this growing retail vinguard) and pitched Jason there on the idea.  He promptly responded with a "Let's do it" and the date for the April 15th tasting was booked shortly thereafter.

With the date set, and the idea now an impending reality, I thought it would be a good idea for us here at the vineyard to go through and taste our library of Esprit Blancs for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, it would enable me to select the vintages to highlight at the Solano Cellars tasting to illustrate the fascinating ageability of the Esprit Blanc.  Secondly, it would provide an ideal opportunity for our G.M., Jason Haas, to update our vintage chart, which he in fact did shortly after we completed the tasting.  Ultimately, our tasting here at the vineyard proved both enlightening and interesting.  What always strikes me whenever I taste through back vintages of this wine is how, after being open for ten minutes or so, each displays individual character and personality.  There are always common traits such as richness, viscosity, and minerality, but I love to taste each and be inspired by the differences and individuality.  And then I immediately think about what I would want to eat with each.    

Below, I have posted some of my notes from the tasting we had here at the vineyard and have also added some pairing suggestions.  For those of you with some of these bottles in your cellars, I hope the notes and suggestions help.  For those of you that happen to be near Berkeley on April 15th, please come by Solano Cellars to say hello and taste through many of these wines yourself.  (Information about the tasting can be found here, and to reserve seats, please call Solano Cellars at 1.800.WINE.411.) 

I hope to say hello to some of you next week and if anybody has any comments or questions, please let us know. 


2001 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc:  Honeysuckle blossom, petrol, and anise on the nose with pronounced fennel flavors, clay, and a yeasty, dough-like component in the mouth.  As a pairing for this, I would probably have a dish that would let this wine enjoy its long-awaited spotlight on the table:  scrambled eggs with sauteed mushrooms (mild ones, however) and a sprinkling of some fresh herbs.  

2002 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc:  Sea air, honey, and ginger on the nose with great brightness and roundness in the mouth, as well as pronounced length.  This wine is drinking beautifully right now.  For this wine I would likely try a fairly rich and savory halibut dish.  I think a fillet sauteed and finished with a beurre blanc would be a lovely way to go as would one poached in olive oil with lemon and herbs. 

2003 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc:  Butterscotch, cooked honey, and generally sweeter on the nose with an herbaceous fennel (fennel frond?) character, not quite in sync with its soft palate and hop-like bitterness on the finish.  Best to leave this wine be for a year or so and check back in. 

2004 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc:  Honey, dried flowers, and burnt sugar on the nose.  This wine is still very round, with great breadth, but it is showing a little hot and slightly tannic right now.  Best to leave this one be a for a little while as well.

2005 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc:  Youthful and bright.  Honeysuckle, orange blossom, and rose petals on the nose.   In the mouth it has lovely minerality, great depth, and a sweet-to-salty transition on the finish that is just lovely.  I would keep it simple, yet decadent, with this wine and have boiled Maine lobster with miso butter.  

2006 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc:  Honey, mint, thyme, and lemon peel on the nose.  The mouth is round and chalky, with lime, apple, pear and a lovely saline minerality.  I don't think one could go wrong with grilled or sauteed scallops that have been finished with citrus and fennel pollen.

2007 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc:  Primal and rich.  The nose is tropical and resiny with mango, quince, wet herbs and dried flowers.  The mouth is round and bright, tangy and minerally, yet all the while elegant.  Two standout main dishes I have had with this wine have been a honey and clove encrusted ham and a Chinese 5-spice-rubbed pork loin.

2008 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc:  Electrically bright on the nose, with orange blossom, lemongrass, and honey.  The mouth has both tropical and tangerine notes, as well as spice, minerality and wonderful nerve.  I have yet to have this wine with a meal, but I am looking forward to pairing it with something this weekend.  I don't know exactly what yet, but I'm thinking something that incorporates shellfish, Asian spices, and the Ojai tangerines that we are still getting here in the central coast.  I will keep you posted.

Viognier, Oursins and Age

By Robert Haas

A few days before Christmas I was consolidating the wines in my “cellar” -- refrigerated wine cabinets in our garage plus a refrigerated indoor wine closet -- in order to make room for a several new cases of young white wines, mostly Burgundies, that I recently got from my old company, Vineyard Brands

While shifting wines around I uncovered three bottles of Tablas Creek Adelaida Hills Viognier 1995, hand bottled by Jean-Pierre Perrin and me directly from the single barrel that came from the vines that we planted at Tablas Creek in 1992. I had serious doubts about how that wine from three-year-old vines, from a frost-reduced crop, would be tasting after fourteen years, so I grabbed a bottle and opened it that night. I was astonished at how good it tasted. I re-corked the almost-full bottle remainder and put it in the fridge. 

Viognier bottle

Before there was a Tablas Creek winery, we produced wine in a rented space under the labels "Adelaida Hills" and "Tablas Hills" from the American-sourced Rhone varietals we planted in 1992.

I had ordered some fresh Santa Barbara sea urchins from a great neighborhood local fish market, Pier 46 Seafood in Templeton, and picked them up the morning of the 24th. I got the sea urchin habit while traveling in France in the ‘50s and ‘60s, where oursins were regular entrée offerings, along with huitres, on many menus. In France, as for oysters, they are sized and priced by the number of o’s: ooo being the largest and o the smallest. These guys would have been ooooo in comparison.


Les Oursins

I have not yet gotten many followers in my family for my oursin love so I only ordered a half dozen for myself and had them for lunch at home on that Thursday before Christmas with the opened bottle of Viognier.

The wine was even better the second day, perhaps encouraged by its pairing with the luscious, iodic, slightly sweet marine flavor of the oursins. It had a pale straw, brilliant and clear color. The nose was of honeysuckle, slightly gone-by roses and Meyer lemon. There was hardly any hint of age on the palate. The wine was still vibrant, forceful and young with great balance of apricot fruit, rich feel and fine acidity, and again, a hint of Meyer lemon on the long and graceful finish.

At Tablas Creek, we are often asked how long and well our wines will age. The real answer is that we do not know yet. Our experience is too short but we feel that because of the exceptional terroir of chalky clay soils, cold nighttime temperatures, organic farming and natural winemaking, they will age gracefully, even the whites, for many years. This delightful 14-year-old wine seems to me to be pointing the way.

RZH with viognier and oursins


Panoplie 2000-2008: A Vertical Wine Tasting Fit for the Holidays

There are certain wines in our portfolio I drink fairly often, and others that I hardly ever drink.  The ones I drink a lot are probably predictable: I tend to have the current vintages of Cotes de Tablas and Esprit de Beaucastel with good frequency, both tasting with guests at the winery and working out in the market.  I'm a fan of Mourvedre and Roussanne, and my wife is a fan of Vermentino and Rose, so we have those regularly at our house.  And, because their cellar life is longer, because they're our most widely distributed wines, and because we keep a healthy library at the winery, I rarely go too long without tasting most of our vintages of Esprit de Beaucastel or Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc.

But I have gotten several questions recently on how different vintages of our Panoplie have been tasting.  I realized that I honestly didn't know, and didn't have the knowledge to accurately update the vintage chart we maintain.  For the unfamiliar, Panoplie is our top red wine, made only in top vintages, and in the model of Beaucastel's Hommage a Jacques Perrin.  Like the Hommage, it is always heavy on Mourvedre, and tends to be light on Syrah.  We choose Mourvedre lots that are structured enough to stand without Syrah (which lends structure, but also tends to dominate a blend and make it too monolithic).  We blend Panoplie unapologetically to age.  So, we're expecting all these wines to last two decades or more.  But our first vintage of Panoplie is now nearly a decade old, and (understandably) some of the lucky customers who got some of those 67 cases have been asking whether it's drinking well now.  I honestly couldn't tell them.

So, I decided it was time to open up a vertical of Panoplie, ranging from 2000 to the not-yet-bottled 2008, to get a sense of where in their evolutions the wines were, and what we might expect going forward.  I also wanted to get a big-picture overview of how our thinking about this wine had evolved over the last decade.  I was joined for the tasting by my dad, as well as winemaker Neil Collins and assistant winemaker Chelsea Magnusson.  We chose the afternoon of the Wednesday before Christmas as an appropriate day: for most of us the last work day before the holiday weekend.  We were feeling festive, and vertical tastings like this are one of the most fun rewards we get to give ourselves.  The tasting notes (note that we didn't make a Panoplie in 2001):

  • 2000 Panoplie (55% Mourvedre, 30% Syrah, 15% Grenache): a minty, menthol but dark, gamy nose.  In the mouth, grippy tannins and very dark fruit.  Very Syrah-dominant.  It has nice length and good acids to balance the structure, but it's not very giving right now.  This was the only wine in the group that was starting to show some secondary meaty, leathery flavors, but until the tannins calm down a little more I'd recommend that people still give it a little more time.
  • 2002 Panoplie (80% Mourvedre, 13% Grenache, 7% Counoise): a really pretty nose with red licorice and berries.  Sweet-smelling, but totally dry on the palate.  Still has good tannic grip but is rounder than the 2000, with some flavors of bittersweet chocolate and grilled steak joining the brambly berry fruit.  Neil commented that you could taste the Counoise in the brambliness.  Delicious, and still youthful.  My favorite of the tasting for drinking now.
  • 2003 Panoplie (69% Mourvedre, 21% Grenache, 7% Syrah, 3% Counoise; the only Panoplie where we used all four of our principal red varietals): a figgy, plummy, slightly porty nose with a hint of oxidation.  In the mouth, sweet flavors of plum jam and mint chocolate.  Juiciness builds on the palate, which shows more freshness than the nose.  The finish turns darker and is still quite tannic.  The wine doesn't seem fully resolved right now with the nose and palate not really in sync.  I'd suggest people wait a little while and try again.
  • 2004 Panoplie (69% Mourvedre, 21% Grenache, 10% Syrah): beautiful nose of cassis, raspberry, soy, and mint, fresh but layered and deep.  The mouth is full of sweet fruit, particularly blueberry and currant, and the texture is seamless.  You feel the tannins on the finish, but they're cloaked in fruit.  At this stage, the palate seemed a little overtly sweet, but the wine is delicious.  Chelsea commented that this was the wine she'd take home for her parents.
  • 2005 Panoplie (70% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache, 5% Syrah): nose is a little more closed than the 2004; smells tight and extracted, with a eucalyptus and some dark fruit coming out with time.  On the palate, the wine (like many of our 2005's) is still tannic, though it has a promising savory, tangy note that comes out on the finish.  Neil called it "chunky" right now, which I thought was right on.  Definitely wait on this one, probably at least another few years.
  • 2006 Panoplie (68% Mourvedre, 27% Grenache, 5% Syrah): Smells young, with a little alcohol joining the brambly fruit on the nose.  With a little time in the glass, this wine blossomed, with licorice, herbs and more fruit coming out on the nose.  In the mouth, it's nice and juicy with the characteristic tangy acids of the 2006 vintage.  Neil thought it tasted "a little wound up" but that it showed beautiful balance and promise.  That said, it's a lot more approachable than the 2005, but anyone giving it a try should definitely decant.  I'd suspect that it will shut down in another year or two, and then reopen a few years later and drink well for a long time.  My dad's and Chelsea's favorite wine of the tasting.
  • 2007 Panoplie (60% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 10% Syrah): The nose is dense and extracted, and just exudes power.  It tastes very rich, at least as dense as it smells, and vibrates with flavors of red and black licorice.  There is an appealing brushy, herby character that suggests that when it calms down a bit, and develops some secondary flavors, it will be a remarkably complex wine.  The tannins are powerful all the way through to the finish, and tend to block the finish a bit.  Definitely wait... but expect to be rewarded handsomely for your patience.
  • 2008 Panoplie (54% Mourvedre, 29% Grenache, 17% Syrah; tasted from foudre; will be bottled summer 2010 and released spring 2011): A nice roasted coffee note on the nose, with an inkiness that appears to come from the higher Syrah content (the cool 2008 vintage was a great one for Syrah).  In the mouth, you taste flavors in sequence rather than all together, which isn't unusual at this stage of a wine's life: first some nice sweet oak, then black fruit, then tannin.  There is a nice lift and clarity on the finish that is totally characteristic of the 2008 vintage.  It's a little disjointed now, but will be very classic and classy.  Neil's favorite wine of the tasting.  This wine will go out in the spring 2011 VINsider Wine Club shipment.

In the big picture, we've refined our model a bit.  As with the Esprit, our percentage of Grenache has risen gradually as the vines have aged and we're liking it more.  We also went through a couple of vintages (2003 and 2004) where the wines were a little sweeter, and have moved back to a drier style.  We took advantage of the vintage character of 2008 to add more Syrah than we have in any Panoplie since 2000 (and will likely do so again in 2009).  But what struck us more than the differences were the similarities.  All these wines were more than half Mourvedre, and the characteristic Mourvedre flavors of plum, currant, mocha and roasted meat was a common denominator in all eight wines.  And they all shared the chewy structure that ripe, concentrated Mourvedre brings and which gives longevity to wines.  The vintages brought variations in character, and the denser, more tannic vintages like 2000, 2005, and 2007 all show even more structure than their corresponding Esprits.  Right now, the relatively more elegant vintages of 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 gave more pleasure... but I don't have any doubt that even the biggest of these wines has the balance to age for decades.

It will be a pleasure to find out if I'm right.

Holiday Wine Suggestions - What We're Drinking this Christmas

I am always skeptical of holiday wine pairing articles that tell you the perfect wine to pair with a holiday meal.  Holiday meals, of course, can vary enormously, and the right wine for your meal is the right wine for what you're eating.  But we thought it would be fun to share what we're all planning for our holidays, so I asked our winemaking team, our tasting room managers, and our other key staff what they'd be drinking, both Tablas Creek and otherwise.  I present their suggestions essentially unedited, so you can get a sense of everyone's personality as well as their wine choices.

And us?  We're having dinner with my parents this Christmas, so we get the benefit of their choices!  But the past few years, when we've been on our own, Christmas is a chance to break out a "special occasion" wine.  I typically make a standing rib roast, and pick something I'd otherwise be too intimidated to open.  Last year, we started with an old Saint Emilion: 1979 Haut Pontet.  The fruit was pretty much gone, and it was more intellectually interesting than satisfying.  So, we fell back to something safer and opened a 1989 Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape, which is at a spectacular stage right now.  Mature but still lush and pretty close to perfect.  And the warmth of the fruit from the Rhone made a dramatic contrast with the older and more herbal Bordeaux.  Wow. 

Nicole Getty, Director of Wine Club, Hospitality and Events
The traditional Christmas feast at my family's house is a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding. We do change up the first course every year however, and we’ve settled on seared scallops with drizzled honey and apples. We’ll serve a 2006 Viognier (Guigal Condrieu) with the scallops and the 2006 Esprit de Beaucastel with the hearty, rich roast.

Robert Haas, Founder
One favorite of mine is Champagne. I think that Roederer estate is the best of the California bubblys. In the imports, I would look for a vigneron estate-bottled wine. For red wine this year, I would be all for Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel 2006. Mom can choose the recipes.

Ryan Hebert, Winemaker
Tablas Creek 2006 Roussanne
This wine tastes exceptionally well right now and I really like how the rich honey notes play off the saltiness of the ham.

2007 Adelaida 2007 Pinot Noir
A very well made Pinot Noir that has the perfect elegance to compliment the turkey.

Chelsea Magnusson, Assistant Winemaker
Tablas Creek Vineyard 2005 Esprit de Beaucastel
In my family, we tend to skip the big meal on Christmas day and instead have a large sit-down meal on Christmas Eve. Almost every year, my family goes skiing on December 24thand we come home to have osso bucco for dinner. For us, this is a wonderful tradition, given the dish’s hearty, soul-satisfying character. A perfect pairing with this is the 2005 Esprit with its layers of earthy complexity and rich, deep fruit. As far as I’m concerned, this wine pairs wonderfully with tired muscles and a crackling fire in the fireplace.

Codorniu Cava
On Christmas morning, the whole family comes to our house where we open presents around the tree with a glass of sparkling wine. I love Cava for its exceptional value and bright, fresh quality, and this particular wine is perfect for Christmas morning. It is a Rosado Brut Cava made from Pinot Noir grapes and the color (bright pink!) and the palette are both about as festive as it gets. And the best part? With a dollar tag coming in at less than $20, we aren’t nervous sabering the bottles to kick off the holiday!

Sylvia Montegue, Tasting Room Assistant Manager
Slow cooked stuffed pork shoulder roast with figs, garlic and Mourvedre will be the main attraction on our table for Christmas dinner 2009. The Mourvedre will be incorporated into the sauce for the meat as well as served along with the meal. I love to serve several vintages of a Tablas wine to showcase the differences that each year brings and to help our guests understand why winemaking is so interesting and definitely a challenge. This succulent cut of meat with figs pairs well with the notes of plum, spice and roasted meats that is evident in the 2006/2007 Tablas Creek Mourvedre.

One can't celebrate the holidays without a bubbly. Period. On New Year's Eve we will have diver scallops with brown butter & shallots paired with Camile Bonville Grand Cru Brut. This is a bright, fresh splash of citrus that cuts the richness of the scallops and wakes up your palate on a dark winter's evening.

John Morris, Tasting Room Manager
I'm still working on the menu, but it looks like I'm going to start with a Bouillabaisse. I will likely serve the 2008 Tablas Creek Rosé. An obvious non-Tablas choice would be a Rosé from Bandol or Tavel, but I think a White Burgundy, a White Bordeaux, or even a Rosé Champagne would work.

The main course will include Lamb Chops with braised root vegetables. I'm leaning toward serving the 2005 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel, but might also substitute the 2006 Perrin et Fils Gigondas or a Mourvedré-based red from Bandol.

A work in progress!

Monica O'Connor, Tasting Room Team Lead
My two wine suggestions for the holidays are the Tablas 2006 Esprit de Beaucastel and J Vineyards 2006 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley.

Though the 2006 Esprit de Beaucastel is a bit obvious given that it is just so elegant & pretty, this choice for me is about the pleasure and comfort of the holidays enjoyed with family and friends. The 2006 Esprit has a magical quality - lush body, serious earth and playful fruit, extraordinarily balanced. What it has to say, it whispers ~ and it says something new each time so you keep coming back.

I find this wine a sensational pairing with a great variety of foods: ahi or salmon, filet mignon, risotto, Tuscan bean soup with fresh herbs; and really fine over good conversation as well.

J Vineyards 2006 Pinot Noir RRV I really like for its interesting contrasts and the way they integrate. It has a lovely nose of cassis and darjeeling tea, some earth and berries on the palate, with gentle tannins and pleasing acidity. I would pair this wine with duck, perhaps with a reduction of pan juices, wine and figs.

Tommy Oldre, National Sales Manager
For my Tablas pick, I am selecting our 2007 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, for a couple of reasons. First off, I think it is one of the prettiest wines we have ever made. Secondly, I think it is a great match for most preparations of ham, which I know I will be having this holiday season. Specifically, I really enjoy the way the ‘07 Esprit Blanc, with its Roussanne-based richness, courts the salty richness of the ham and also how the lemony acids in the wine can counterbalance the sweetness offered in most glazes.

For my non-Tablas pick, I select Gasoton Chiquet’s NV Tradition Champagne. Honestly, for me, this is an easy call. This wine is always enjoyable for me to drink; it pairs beautifully with many foods, it has a historically significant presence to it (as the majority of Champagne does for me), and my girlfriend is always happier with me when I bring it home.

Gustavo Prieto, Tasting Room Team Lead
I would pick the Esprit de Beaucastel 2003, because I love the richness of Mourvedre, especially in 2003 that's 50%, nice earthiness, softness and balance and it is drinking quite well now. Also I'm thinking of cooking lamb for Christmas...

For a non Tablas wine I would pick a sparkling wine, since the holidays are all about celebration and I think there is nothing better than a glass of good Champagne, maybe a 1990 Dom Perignon...

Fall in Vermont

This essay, sent in from Vermont, is the next in an occasional series of articles by Robert Haas.

After a rainy Vermont summer (was that summer?), fall has arrived with the leaves just beginning to turn color, apples ready to pick and the garden mostly put away for the winter although the beans do not know it and are continuing to bloom and produce.

The days are getting very fall-like with the slanting sunlight angles and the nights are getting jacket chilly.   With the cooler nights the dinner menus are turning to more substantial fare with a good share of lamb and beef recipes designed for braising, stewing and oven roasting. 

As the menus turn toward the fall so do the wine cellar choices.  I still have quite a few 1978s in the cellar here and we have started to renew our acquaintances with them at the dinner table.  In my opinion, 1978 was the best vintage of the otherwise difficult decade of the 1970s and the wines have stood up beautifully here in my below ground natural cellars. 


The other night we enjoyed a delicious Provençal blanquette of lamb shoulder -- from Richard Olney’s gloriously illustrated Provence the Beautiful Cookbook -- with a 1978 Volnay Premier Crû Clos des Ducs from the domain of a late old good friend, the Marquis (Jacques) d’Angerville, and documented the event with the accompanying photo (right).  

The wine was deliciously sturdy and fruited but mature with the character that only old Burgundy can impart to pinot noir.  Its elegant power and delicate balance were perfectly matched with the delicately flavored dish.


The week before we enjoyed a more robustly flavored dish of braised gigot d'agneau (leg of lamb) with olives and salted anchovies and accompanied it with a surprisingly robust and flavorful 1978 Santenay from the Château de la Charrière (photo left).   Vincent Girardin tells me that 1978 was the last vintage that his father vinified.

I’m trying to hold on to the recent vintages of my Tablas Creek wines for future drinking but occasionally (maybe more than occasionally) find myself digging into the fruity and luscious 2006 Tablas Creek Vineyard reds.  They are tasting wonderfully right now, especially with Provençal cuisine.

A few years ago, when we moved into our California house in Templeton and installed the refrigerated cabinets necessary for good wine storage out here, we shipped fifty or so cases of my old wine stash going back to the 1960s vintages to California.  I fully expected that they would taste quite a bit older out here than in their original resting place.  But happily, they do not.  It’s a good sign that one can ship carefully packed and shipped older wines across the country without damaging them.  What is necessary, however, is to be patient before opening and drinking them.  We waited six months before opening the first bottle.

I know that “fall like” is not exactly how one would describe this week’s weather in California.  Quite the opposite.  However, cooler days and nights will come, and hopefully, with some RAIN.  So think of lamb, beef, pork, and game dishes in their winter incarnations and enjoy your red wines out of your cellar with them.

The importance of multi-channel marketing (AKA yes, print will be seen by more eyes than email)

This month, we launched the VINsider Wine Club Collector’s Edition, which gives its members access to library vintages of Esprit de Beaucastel and Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc that we’ve aged in our cellars.  As we have held back only a limited quantity of our older wines, we announced an initial limit on numbers for 2009 to 250.  With about 3600 wine club members, I was fairly confident that we’d get to our maximum, and in fact we have.  We’ve reached our 250 and will be cutting off any further registrations at the end of this week.

What has been interesting to me was the relative effectiveness of the different effort we've used to promote this new club.  We have let our club members know four different times about this opportunity. 

  1. July 28th: a mention as a part of our regular end-of-month email for July 
  2. August 9th: a paper letter which we sent out on letterhead
  3. August 17th: a column in our fall newsletter
  4. August 25th: a prominent mention in the end-of-month email for August

I was expecting the greatest response to be from the first email mention, but this was not the case. In the five days after we sent out the email (about the limit, in my opinion, of the impact of a piece of email communication) we netted 27 registrations.  It was the paper letter that had the most impact.  On August 10th, the first day anyone could have received it (realistically, just Southern California) we received 29 registrations.  The next day brought in 49.  In total, in the week after we sent out the letter, we received 147 responses.  The column in the newsletter produced 37 in the next week.  And this last email, which went out not even 36 hours ago, has netted another 44 registrations so far, with more coming in.

I plotted the registrations by day on a graph, with the different marketing events noted:

Collectors Edition Registrations by Day

Our experience launching this program has been for me a salient lesson in multi-channel marketing.  If you send out a regular email (as I think any winery, or really any business with direct customers, should) you should expect that a significant percentage of its recipients are going to ignore or skim the letter.  Of course, some people may just toss a printed letter too, but these days, a physical mailing, if it’s nicely done, is unusual enough that I think it commands more attention.  Of course, a print mailing is more expensive to produce and send out than an email by a factor of something more than 100.  But if what you are promoting is sufficiently valuable, it’s important to remember that it will see a lot more eyes than an email.

As for emails, we saw very different response rates between the initial email that announced the Collector’s Edition program, which saw only a small bump in registrations, and the one that went out yesterday, which produced more response in the first day than the earlier email did in a week.  I think there are three factors at play here.

  1. Position within an email matters.  In the initial email, we soft-played the section promoting the Collector’s Edition.  I didn’t want to steal the thunder of the letter that was coming soon, and so we put the mention toward the end of the email.  We do organize our monthly emails consistently, with -- in essence -- a table of contents at the beginning, so customers can scan the email quickly, but I still think that many people don’t make it past the first or second point in an email.  In the recent email, the announcement about the Collector’s Edition was the first section.
  2. An announcement at the end of a limited time promotion tends to see more response than one at the beginning.  We feature a wine each month, and typically see more orders at the end of this monthly feature than at the beginning, even though we often sell out of the featured wine before the end of the month.  Of course, communicating urgency -- in this case that there were only 25 spots left in the program -- helps.  At the same time, it’s important not to underestimate your customers, and save urgency for when it’s real. 
  3. There is a cumulative effect to repeat marketing by different channels.  Each mention, as long as it feels natural and unforced, raises people’s curiosity and makes it more likely that they will investigate further.  By the end of the month-long program, I’d hope that nearly all our wine club members would have at least heard about and considered briefly our new program.

None of this should be a revelation to marketers.  Still, I spend more of my time working on marketing than I do on any of the many other pieces of my weekly job, and I was taken by surprise at some of our results.  A few general lessons for any winery doing this sort of promotion:

  • Think about print as a complement to email marketing for anything special
  • If you’re going to use email marketing, make sure that your most important items are in the beginning of your email.  Better yet (if you can do it without overwhelming your customers with too much mail) make it the sole focus of an email.
  • Don’t be afraid, if you can do so within your established patterns, to mention an important program in more than one email.  A customer who may be distracted or buried when one mention comes in may have time to read the next one a few weeks later.
  • Expect to receive most of the results of an email within 48 hours.
  • Marketing the same program through multiple channels can have a cumulative effect.

Oh, and as to the immediate item at hand?  We have enough wine allow a slightly larger membership in the Collector’s Edition club, and felt that doing so was fairer than cutting it off arbitrarily less than a day after our “last call” announcement.  So, we’re going to accept any additional registrations through the end of this week.  Anyone who misses that cutoff will be put onto a waiting list for 2010, when we expect to be able to expand the program a little more. If you're interested in this year's shipment, which I think is exceptionally cool, act soon.