Each summer, I have the pleasure of tasting through library vintages of our Esprit de Beaucastel and Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc to choose the wines for the upcoming VINsider Wine Club Collector's Edition shipment. We created the Collector's Edition version of our VINsider Wine Club back in 2009 to give our biggest fans a chance to see what our flagship wines were like aged in perfect conditions. Members also get a slightly larger allocation of the current release of Esprits to track as they evolve. This club gives us a chance show off our wines' ageworthiness, and it's been a great success, generating a waiting list each year since we started it.
This year, our selections will be the 2010 Esprit de Beaucastel and the 2012 Esprit de Tablas Blanc. Each wine bears the signature of its vintage: 2010 was one of our coolest, with exceptionally long hang times and wines that show depth almost effortlessly, while 2012 was the first warm year after two cool vintages, producing Roussanne with charm and friendliness.
In both cases, the wines have evolved in fun ways, becoming something more complete than they were when they were young. The 2010 Esprit, which was always an intellectually satisfying wine, has fleshed out and added heft and substance without muddying the vintage's essential elegance. The 2012 Esprit Blanc has added depth and savory, nutty notes that layer beautifully over the wine's essential sunny generosity.
It's worth noting that this isn't the end; both these wines will go out another decade, at least, and the 2010 Esprit, particularly seems like it will benefit from even another six months in bottle. The duo:
Tasting notes, from tastings today:
- 2012 Esprit de Tablas Blanc: Medium gold, only slightly deepened with time. An immensely appealing nose of almonds, honey, white flowers, mint, and a rich fruity yeastiness that Chelsea identified as apple fritter. The mouth is like baklava: nuts and honey, with additional flavors of roasted pear, clove, and candied lemon peel. Still vibrant and youthful, but with delicious additional complexity from the five years in bottle. 75% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc, 5% Picpoul Blanc. Delicious now, but will certainly be good for another 5-10 years, or more.
- 2010 Esprit de Beaucastel: A deeply meaty, spicy nose of strawberry fruit leather, bittersweet chocolate, and bay leaf. On the palate, beautifully balanced between youthful and more mature expressions, with flavors of plum skin, leather, loam, and meat drippings. Very nice freshness, with savory notes of black pepper and black tea coming out on the finish. It's still unwinding, and we think that anyone with the patience to wait another 6 months will be rewarded. It will drink well and continue to gain depth and complexity, we think, for another decade or two. 45% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 21% Syrah, 4% Counoise.
The complete Collector's Edition shipment is pretty stunning, if I may say so myself:
- 2 bottles of 2010 Esprit de Beaucastel
- 1 bottle of 2012 Esprit de Tablas Blanc
- 3 bottles of 2016 Esprit de Tablas
- 1 bottle of 2014 Esprit de Tablas
- 1 bottle of 2016 En Gobelet
- 2 bottles of 2016 Esprit de Tablas Blanc
- 1 bottle of 2017 Cotes de Tablas Blanc
- 1 bottle of 2017 Grenache Blanc
We will be adding to the Collector's Edition membership, subject to available space, in the next few weeks. If you're on the waiting list, you should look for an email with news, one way or the other, of whether you've made it on for this round. We add members, once a year, in the order in which we received applications to the waiting list. If you are currently a VINsider member and interested in getting on the waiting list, you can upgrade to the Collector's Edition online or by giving us our wine club office a call. And if you are not currently a member, but would like to be, you can sign up for the VINsider Wine Club Collector's Edition, with all the benefits of VINsider Wine Club membership while you're on the waiting list.
One final note. This will be the 10th year of our Collector's Edition club. I remember back in 2008 when we were brainstorming ideas as to how to get the library wines that we'd been cellaring since the 2003 vintage into the hands of our fans, and struggling with how to do this without cheapening the experience of VINsider Club members. It's interesting for me to go back and read a blog I wrote then, sharing our thoughts and soliciting ideas from readers. I still think of the Collector's Edition as a "new" addition to our offering, but with a decade under our belts, it's clearly not any more. Those of you who are members, I'd love to hear your thoughts. And thank you, as always, for your patronage. We are grateful, and don't take it for granted.