Tablas Creek Esprit Blanc 2008- A taste of Rhone in CA $31.95 WA94
November 2, 2010 High End Values
It’s rare to see non-varietal designated wines coming out of the United States. For some reason we love to know that we’re drinking Syrah rather than a “Paso Robles red”. In the rest of the world, wines are designated with admittedly complex naming conventions usually combining the region in which the grapes were grown and the quality standards of the production. That’s partially because a wider range of varietals thrive in the U.S. But that same tendency can preclude us from enjoying blends because we’re used to wine tasting like a specific grape.
Enter the Perrin family of Chateau Beaucastel in Chateauneuf du Pape, makers of $80-350 wines, all of which are blends. In collaboration with Robert Haas, they are on a mission to bring the spectacular blends of the Rhone Valley to the United States, with their organically farmed estate vineyards in Paso Robles. Pouring a beautiful deep straw color, the nose is floral with hints of popcorn. On the palate this wine is full bodied with tons of citrus and minerals and a little wheat beer.
The grapes (Roussanne, Grenache blanc and Picpoul) may not be familiar but the complex flavors of a well made white wine are. This is fantastic wine that all Rhone fans should really try. I’m looking forward to trying their red soon, so watch for it on these pages.
As usual, L.A. Wine Co. has the lowest price in the country on both half bottles and fulls.
Wine Advocate 94 points
“The flagship white is the 2008 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, a blend of 65% Roussanne, 30% Grenache blanc, and a rarity of 5% Picpoul. This is really great stuff in 2008. The wine displays plenty of honeyed citrus, spring flowers, white peach, apricot, quince, and loads of wet rocks, giving a steely definition to its opulent, full-bodied, yet fresh flavors. This is a tour de force in dry white and Rhone Ranger blends. It’s impossible to know how long it will last, but I would drink it sooner rather than later.
Robert Haas, the iconic French wine importer, who was one of the first to bring estate-bottled French wines into the United States, continues to go from strength to strength at Tablas Creek. His partner remains the Perrin family of Chateau Beaucastel in Chateauneuf du Pape. They have had three tiny vintages in a row, all producing very small yields, but the quality of their 2007s is the best in the history of the winery, and 2008 is certainly a strong vintage as well. These are wonderful, food-friendly wines with considerable complexity. While they do some varietal naming, the strength of Tablas Creek is their extraordinary Rhone Ranger blends, whether white or red. The 2009 vintage turned out to be an even smaller crop than 2008 and 2007 as a result of spring frost.”