[Editor's Note, April 2019: We have changed the selection of wines in this tasting somewhat, and are now featuring a 6-vintage vertical tasting of our flagship Esprit de Tablas, spanning the 2010-2016 vintages. It is a wonderful way to go in depth with our top red wine, to understand how the wines we make age, and to explore how the signature of the vintage is expressed each year. If this is your first visit to Tablas Creek, and you would like to experience the breadth of what we make, we suggest that you consider a seated flight tasting instead, and follow up with a Collector's Tasting on a subsequent visit. But whether this is your first visit or you have been coming for decades, we look forward to welcoming you.]
By Lauren Phelps
It is a very rare treat to pour an aged, library wine for guests in our tasting room. Wines that have been carefully cellar aged have a rich and complex quality that many California wine drinkers have yet to discover. After a few years of bottle aging our Esprit de Tablas wines are impossibly complex, with layers of complementary flavors ranging from dark cherry and plum to leather and spice. I have exhausted myself and our guests attempting to explain with words and gestures the benefits of bottle aging, imploring my audience to "forget about our wine at the back of your closet" or "write a special occasion on the bottle" and keep it aging for at least five years, upwards of thirty in the right conditions. As you might imagine, my passionate attempts at persuasion are mostly met with doubtful gazes and guilty confessions about their lack of will control.
Our traditional tasting list guides guests through our new releases, which for many wines mostly conveys the wines' potential. It's easy to judge these fresh, young wines as they are, without a perspective as to their long and developing lifespan. It's like writing the biography of a teenager. I would never suggest guests not enjoy our wines in their youth; they are lovely young as well. I would simply caution tasters from only experiencing the wines before they've had a chance to fully develop. I often suggest having a few bottles of the same vintage on hand and tasting one every couple of years to watch them mature and change over time. [We provide a vintage aging chart on our website to help take the guess work out of when to open our wine.] Alas, we cannot all have closets full of Tablas Creek wine on hand for such experiments and that is why I am excited to share our Collector's Tasting Experience (previously known as our "Reserve Tasting").
In our Collector's Tasting Experience, I can finally take a deep breath, relax and allow the wines to speak for themselves. It's an intimate, seated tasting, focusing on wines that we've cellared for some years, and typically including multiple older vintages of our Esprit de Tablas. This allows guests to experience first-hand how the bottle aging process deepens and complicates the youthful flavors, while also often revealing the secondary flavors a young wine just hasn't developed yet. It is so satisfying to watch the recognition stretch across my guests' faces as they recognize how dramatically these wines develop with age. I hope this tasting experience will encourage guests to purchase current release wines and hold them to their peak maturity, but we also have a small stock of these library wines to offer to the guests who've come for this special tasting.
Whether you are a long-time member of our wine club or have recently discovered Tablas Creek, we hope that you'll find the Collector's Tasting to be both a memorable and worthwhile experience. We offer two sessions Sunday-Friday at 11:30am and 3:00pm; Saturdays and holiday weekends we offer one session at 10:00am. We ask that reservations be made at least 24 hours in advance. The cost for the tasting is $40 for non-members/ $25 for members, and each tasting fee is waived with $250 purchase. To reserve a spot for this tasting, please contact us at [email protected], or just give us a call at (805)-237-1231.
It is a honor to share these wines with our fans who appreciate them and those who are also passionate about the Rhone movement in California. Cheers!