Tablas Creek Vineyard, Côtes de Tablas, Adelaida District, Paso Robles 2018 | California, USA

By Dirk Smits

Wine of the Week – November 2, 2020

The Paso Robles American Viticultural Appellation (AVA) is home to more than 250 wineries and 40,000 acres of vines. The distinct microclimates and diverse soils, combined with warm days and cool nights, make growing conditions ideal for producing more than 40 wine varietals in the 11 viticultural areas. These 11 AVA’s are a powerful tool for wineries to explain why certain grapes are particularly well suited to certain parts of the appellation, and why some wines show the characteristics they do while other wines from the same grapes show differently.

In 1989, not a single Paso Robles winery produced wines from Rhône grape varietals. Today, most of them do. Two families, the Haas Family and the Perrin Family, should get most of the credit for this “crossing the Rubicon” moment. Robert Haas, an importer of fine wines, and Jean-Pierre and François Perrin of Château de Beaucastel in southern France’s Rhône Valley searched California for a close match to the Mediterranean climate and high pH soils of Château de Beaucastel. In 1989, they purchased a 120-acre parcel 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean in what is now the Adelaida District west of Paso Robles. They named it Tablas Creek Vineyard, after the small creek running through the property.

To ensure that the vines at Tablas Creek were of the highest quality and same genetic source of those at Beaucastel, the partners decided to import vines from the French estate. Several clones each of Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Counoise, Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul Blanc were selected, as well as a variety of rootstocks. This diversity would allow Tablas Creek to replicate the clonal selection of an established French vineyard.

In January 1990, the first vine cuttings were imported from France. Before arriving at Tablas Creek, they underwent a USDA-mandated three-year indexing process that ensured that the vines were virus-free. The first imported vines were available for multiplication at the winery in 1993 and planting at the estate began in 1994, with 115 acres under vine as of 2020.

Tablas Creek Vineyard, Côtes de Tablas, Adelaida District, Paso Robles 2018

Origin: Paso Robles, California, USA
Varietals: 45% Grenache, 33% Syrah, 12% Counoise, 10% Mourvèdre
Sustainability: Certified organic and certified biodynamic
Suggested retail price: $35.00
ABV: 14.5%

The Tablas Creek Vineyard Côtes de Tablas is a blend of four estate-grown Rhône varietals: Grenache, Syrah, Counoise and Mourvèdre. Like most wines of the Southern Rhône, it showcases Grenache, featuring that grape’s characteristic generous fruit and refreshing acidity, balanced by the spice and mineral of Syrah, the appealing briary wildness of Counoise and the structure of Mourvèdre.

All varietals were fermented in a mix of stainless steel and wooden fermenters. The wine was aged in 1,200-gallon French oak casks, and then bottled without fining or filtering.

The wine shows a very deep red color, with a powerful nose with a myriad of red fruit and underlying notes of black pepper, chocolate and dried figs. On the palate, flavors of black cherry, chocolate and spice are framed in by ripe tannins and good acidity. This is a wine that can be enjoyed now but will benefit from a few years of aging.

Suggested food pairings: Steak, braised short ribs, game, pasta with meat sauce, chile con carne, cassoulet, spicy sausages, grilled vegetables, cheeses.

> For more information, visit the Tablas Creek Vineyard official website.