One of my highlights each June is the tasting where we get to choose which library vintage of the Esprit and Esprit Blanc we will include in the VINsider Wine Club Collector's Edition shipment in September. For those of you unfamiliar with the Collector's Edition, we created it in 2009 to give members a chance to acquire our flagship wines with some age on them, and it's been a great success, generating a waiting list each year since we started it. We will be adding people on our waiting list to the Collector's Edition next week, and also opening reigstration for a short time, subject to available space. If you are currently a VINsider member you can upgrade to the Collector's Edition online. If you are not currently a member, you can indicate that you would like to join the Collector's Edition when you join the VINsider wine club.
We have been keeping older vintages of the Esprit and Esprit Blanc since the 2003 and 2005 vintages, respectively. So this week, I tasted through our library vintages to decide which wines we wanted to include this fall. It's an interesting challenge, because we want the wines to have had enough time in the cellar to show signs of maturity, but still catch them at (ideally the beginning of) their peak.
In the tasting, for the second year in a row we chose wines from the same vintage. This drives home what we see regularly, that Roussanne acts in many ways -- including aging in bottle -- like a red wine. The vintage of choice was 2006:
My tasting notes:
2006 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc: A clear, vibrant light gold color. The nose is bright and floral, showing jasmine, honeysuckle, melon and pear, as well as more savory notes of aloe and lanolin. The mouth shows the wonderful acids that I remember from the 2006 vintage, then flowing into richness: honeyed pear, marmalade and grilled pineapple, with a nuttiness from the seven years of age. The acids reassert themselves on the finish, emphasizing the wine's minerality and leaving a lingering impression of fresh honeycomb. This seems to me to be at the beginning of a peak that will last for some time.
2006 Esprit de Beaucastel: Shows a deep, earthy nose of soy, dusty red fruit, licorice, black olive and mocha. The mouth is lusher than the nose initially suggests, with rich flavors of plum, leather, anise and sweet spice, all underpinned by a brambly wildness I found totally captivating. The tannins have softened but still provide a welcome counterpoint to the palate's richness, and a chewy texture that lingers on the finish, framed by the acidity I noticed in the white. While this is beautiful now, I have the sense it can age for easily another decade in the cellar and likely more.