It's good to have talented friends. We just asked Colin McVey, whose day job (in addition to being a friend and an occasional helper when we've needed him out here at the winery), is as a professional photographer. He just completed a series of photos on Tablas Creek's bottles, and posted a story on it on his blog.
The local cultural event for which we make our largest sponsorship commitment each year is the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, which brings world-class music to the Central Coast for a two-week festival in July. We have, in the past, donated wine for their gala dinner "The Empress's Table" which was held in Shell Beach, as well as for their post-concert receptions and their fund-raising auctions.
This year, we offered to host this gala at Tablas Creek, and the event took place this past Saturday (July 8th). The dinner was co-sponsored by Villa Creek, who prepared the food, and Windrose Farm, who provided the raw materials. Chef Tom Fundaro presided.
Guests were welcomed on a warm summer evening to a table of artisan cheeses and meats, paired with our brand-new 2005 Vermentino. Then, we all moved to tables set up among the herbs and vegetables of Windrose Farm at Tablas Creek. The complete dinner menu is below:
Pre Dinner Reception Menu
Cheeses and Charcruterie with dried fruit and nuts and fresh summer fruit
Strawberry Gazpacho with Balsamic Vinegar and Crème Fraiche paired with 2005 Rosé
Caramalized onion and Gruyere Tart with "First tomato" Salad paired with 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc
Dry rubbed Flat Iron Steak Garlic roasted potatoes and Sauteed Summer Sauash paired with 2003 Esprit de Beaucastel Rouge
Mocha Pot de Crème paired with 2003 Vin De Paille SacreRouge
A few photos of the dinner (and the celebrities involved) are below:
Mozart Festival Executive Director Curtis Pendleton PRWCA Executive Director Stacie Jacob with Mozart
with Musical Director Scott Yoo Festival Board President Jeff Carey
One of the fun parts of winemaking is the opportunity to put together special lots for special causes. Sometimes we put together unique blends of our own, but more and more when we are putting together barrel lots for auction, we have chosen to reach out to other producers who we admire and make blends that are truly unique: half wine from Tablas Creek and half wine from another winery.
For the Hospice du Rhone, we have made blends with L'Aventure, Austin Hope, and now Ridge. And, for the Central Coast Wine Classic, we have made blends with Qupe, L'Aventure (again), Edmunds St. John, and now, this year, with Jaffurs.
The most interesting part of this process comes when the two wineries come together to taste through each others cellars and decide what of all these choices will end up going together into the cuvee. Earlier this week, Craig Jaffurs arrived at Tablas Creek, samples in hand, to begin the process.
Craig brought three different single-vineyard Syrah samples from the great 2005 vintage: a bottle each of the Bien Nacido, Thompson, and Larner vineyards. Each was excellent on its own, with the Bien Nacido showing dark spice, robust tannin and mineral, the Larner sweet, rich blue/black fruit and appealing spice, and Thompson sort of splitting the difference, with dark, dusty fruit, good mineral, and moderate tannins.
After tasting through the Tablas Creek cellar, we decided it might be fun to pair one of these Santa Barbara County syrahs with a Tablas Creek grenache lot. 2005 was the first year we felt we really got grenache to a point where it could stand on its own, and we have lots of great lots in the cellar.
In the blending, it became clear that with the Tablas grenache, which has lots of fruit (grape, boysenberry) and sweet spice (licorice), the best match was the darker, more structured Bien Nacido vineyard lot. So, we were close. The only thing that we felt the blend lacked was a bit of gracefulness... both lots were so intense that the cuvee was a little too dominant. The solution (as we often find in our own blending)? Counoise, with its nice fruit, moderate body and bright acidity! Adding 4% Counoise to the blend rounded everything out, and we ended up very excited about the result. So, at the Central Coast Wine Classic auction on July 15th, we'll have a treat for everyone.