Recently, we have been discussing the Rhône movement in California (catch up here and here!). We are going to continue that for this week’s Rhône 101 lesson, and talk about one of the pioneer wineries in this movement, Tablas Creek Vineyard.
Tablas Creek Vineyard was founded in 1990 by Jean-Pierre and François Perrin of the Perrin family, and Robert Haas. The Perrins were proprietors of the southern Rhône estate Château de Beaucastel, located in Châteauneuf du Pape, and Haas was a wine importer and founder of Vineyard Brands. Haas worked closely with the Perrins through his import business, and after two decades of promoting French wines in the US together, the three became convinced the Rhône grape varieties would do well in California’s Mediterranean climate.
Tablas Creek came about as a sort of sibling winery to Beaucastel, and the appropriate site for the vineyards took years to find. The Perrins and Haas wanted the terroir to be similar to that of the terroir at Beaucastel, and finally the team chose a site in the Adelaida District, just west of Paso Robles in 1989. It was named Tablas Creek, after the creek running through the property. Vines were imported from Beaucastel vineyards, as many Rhône varietals that they wished to cultivate were unavailable in California at the time. The vines were planted, once released from the US Department of Agriculture’s 3 year indexing process, and the first Tablas Creek Vineyard wines were made in 1997.
Today, Tablas Creek continues to grow, cultivate, and produce wines in the Châteauneuf du Pape tradition. 50% of the wines produced are red; made from Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Counoise. About 35% are white wines, made from Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Picpoul Blanc, and Grenache Blanc. Two rosés are made, as well. Tablas Creek initially chose to focus on these 9 key varietals of the Southern Rhône, but has recently imported 7 more additional varietals in hopes to have a complete Châteauneuf du Pape collection growing at their estate vineyard.
Try it at the girl & the fig!
Tablas Creek Vineyard, 2016 Estate Vineyard Counoise, Adelaida
“The 2016 Tablas Creek Vineyard Counoise is Tablas Creek’s seventh varietal bottling of this traditional blending grape from the Southern Rhône. The Counoise grape has an unusual combination of vibrant blue and purple fruit (blueberries and cranberries), sweet spice (nutmeg and cinnamon), light-to-medium body, bright acidity, ruby color, and soft tannin.”
Tablas Creek, 2010 Esprit de Beaucastel, Adelaida
“The Tablas Creek Vineyard Esprit de Beaucastel 2010 is a blend of four estate-grown varietals, propagated from budwood cuttings from the Château de Beaucastel estate. The wine is based on the dark red fruit, earth, spice and mid- -palate richness of Mourvèdre, with additions of Grenache for forward fruit, approachability and lushness, Syrah for mineral, aromatics, and back-palate tannins, and Counoise for brambly spice and acidity.”