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The wines of Tablas Creek Vineyard, Central Coast, California

Tablas Creek is owned by The Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel and US importer Robert Haas. Located near Paso Robles just a few miles from the Pacific in California’s Central Coast region, the vineyards are at an average elevation of 1500 feet. The resulting climate is described by the Perrins as Rhône-like, and not surprisingly the focus here is on Rhône grape varieties. Soils are shallow, rocky limestone.

What about the wines? They’re quite different from Beaucastel’s French wines, as you might expect. The whites are hugely impressive, with intense, complex herbal fruit – still showing a touch of the Rhône, but turbocharged in terms of flavour. The reds are more restrained on this showing: you wouldn’t mistake them for Beaucastel’s reds, but they aren’t obviously new world in style. I like them, although perhaps not as much as the whites.

Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas Blanc 2002
36% Viognier, 30% Marsanne, 25% Grenache Blanc, 8% Roussanne, fermented separately using native yeasts in a mixture of stainless steel and neutral French oak. Sweet, slightly herby fruit is ripe and rich. This is an appealing rich, fruity white with some personality. Very good+ 89/100

Tablas Creek Roussanne 2002
Grapes were whole bunch pressed and fermented with native yeasts in a mix of stainless steel and French barriques. Left on lees for six months. Striking rich, herby nose with an amazing blast of dense, herby fruit. Lemony lift adds complexity. The palate is concentrated, rich, rounded and with amazing texture and richness. A brilliant, supercharged white wine. Very good/excellent 93/100

Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc 2001
44% Roussanne, 22% Viognier, 18% Grenache Blanc, 16% Marsanne. Fermented separately with native yeasts in a mix of small oak and stainless steel. A portion of Grenache and Viognier doesn’t undergo malolactic fermentation in order to maintain acidity. Very sweet, rounded herbal nose showing lovely rich fruit. Fantastic rounded herbal fruit on the palate with a lovely rich texture. Delicious stuff. Very good/excellent 93/100

Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas Rouge 2001
A blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache with a dollop of Counoise. Fermented using native yeasts and aged in foudres. Lovely chewy, savoury wine with rich, spicy fruit. A nicely structured chunky red. Very good+ 88/100

Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas Rouge 2002
Understated sweet, herb edged fruit on the nose, which is ripe with a bit of spiciness. The palate is concentrated with some liquoricey, spicy fruit. Good density. Nice structure and acidity: not showy but well balanced. Very good/excellent 90/100

Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Rouge 2000
Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache and Counoise, fermented separately with native yeasts and aged in a combination of barriques and foudres. Open, sweet liquoricey nose, but showing some restraint. The palate is dense, full and quite expressive with a distinctive spiciness to the fruit and some herbal complexity. It’s not really ‘new world’ in style, and is bold but still balanced. Very good/excellent 91/100  

wines tasted April 2004

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