A few years ago, when on a wine training in the Central Coast of Cali, I had the honor of being introduced to Tablas Creek.
Located west of Paso Robles, the site for this winery was selected as a partnership project between a California wine company and the Perrin family, owners of Château de Beaucastel, widely recognized as one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape's finest domaines (you may know this region either from tasting its wonderful wines or through the line in the Beastie Boy's song "Body Movin'"-- either way, it's awesome). The site was selected because these dudes were pretty sure it would make wines similar to the blends of their fabulous wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The wines are all grafted from the south of France and are 100% USDA ORGANIC (LOVE IT!).
Ok, in all honesty I remember, at the time, not being wowed by the Esprit de Beaucastel. Despite my dislike, the tasting room staff encouraged me to buy and hold a few bottles, insisting that the wine improved with age and that '03 was a great vintage. The price was about $30, so I thought I’d be courteous (read: standard wine country guilt purchase) and buy a few to see how this tight, tannic, minerally red blend could change over time.
I stuck the bottles in 2 paper bags with the date they should be consumed: 8/09. Over the next three years I moved cross-country, got married, bought a house, and started my business…and forgot about the wines. But when our dear, awesome, wine knowledgeable friend was over last week, I was looking for something interesting so I followed my own instructions to open in 8/09 and cracked open a bottle.…and here’s what I found.
The Wine: Tablas Creek, Esprit de Beaucastel
The Grapes: According to the tasting notes, the wine is 50% Mourvèdre, 27% Syrah, 16% Grenache, 7% Counoise
Price: Around $40 now, you can get it from the tasting room.
Normal Description: Given the age, this one was a bit watery and brown around the edges (we get wrinkles and grey hair, wine turns brown – age gets us all, no?) but the center color was a deep, intense purple. I expected BIG flavors from looking at that color.
Uncommon to a New World wine, this wine had low fruit but a streamy (like water on a rock) aroma. Very common to New World wine, however, the wine smelled hot (cilia charred=high alcohol=warmer climate for growing the grapes=a lot of the New World). That said, with a few more minutes of swirling to get the oxygen in it, I finally got some plum aromas and then tons of descriptors came to mind: cedar, old leather, fresh thyme. From this yummy, complex, exciting nose, the wine geek radar was going off.
And I was right!
What a freaking rockstar wine! Smooth as Cary Grant. A total classic! This thing really had changed in the 3 years since I bought it. It was like warm plum pie and SOOOO smooth. There were some great licorice flavors and a little bit of that thyme that I had smelled. It was so flavorful but the licorice and herbs, and the cedar aromas were an uber complement to all that plummy goodness. The nose didn’t lie -- it tasted hot, and it was tannic and super acidic – but the balance of all the textures and the flavors rocked our collective worlds. This was a butterfly of a wine (I’m terrified of butterflies, BTW, but not of this wine).
Snap or crap? Clearly, this wine is a snap. Most wines that I review are $7-$15, but every now and then I drink well. And for $40 this is well worth it. I was so impressed! I would recommend ordering some new vintage wine and holding it for a while. I’m saving my other bottle to drink in 2 years…Yum!