The Tablas Creek Vineyard Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc 2001 is a blend of four estate-grown varietals, propagated from budwood cuttings from the Château de Beaucastel estate.
The 2001 vintage saw an early spring frost that cut down on the quantity of fruit, but the result was wines of remarkable intensity. A hot, sunny summer further concentrated the grapes, while cool nights maintained the character of the aromatic varietals. The harvest began on August 27th with the Viognier, and continued with Roussanne, then Marsanne, each about a week apart. It concluded with the Grenache Blanc on September 17th.
The fruit is whole cluster pressed, and fermented with native yeasts. The Roussanne was fermented half in stainless steel fermenters and half in small oak "pieces", while the other varietals were fermented 100% in stainless steel. To maintain crisp acidity on the finish, a portion of the Viognier and the Grenache Blanc were prevented from completing malolactic fermentation. The wines were racked, blended, and cold stabilized, and bottled in April 2001.
The 2001 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc is a richly intense wine, with aromatics of peaches, pears, honeysuckle and anise, and flavors of honey, green apple, pear, and licorice, balanced by crisp acidity on the finish. Best served slightly chilled, but not ice cold.
Tablas Creek Vineyard Winery
The Perrins of Chateau de Beaucastel and Robert Haas, their importer since 1970, founded Tablas Creek Vineyard in 1990. They chose their 1600-foot elevation site in West Paso Robles' Las Tablas because of its chalky clay soils and its climate similar to the southern Rhone Valley. They imported selected French cuttings of Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah and Counoise and multiplied, grafted and planted their own vines, which they farm organically. This blended wine, in the image of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, is 100% estate-grown and bottled.
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The largest of California's wine growing regions, the Central Coast produces the majority of California's wine. The district sprawls out, covering most of the vineyard land between San Francisco and Santa Barbara. Smaller sub-AVAs of the Central Coast include Monterey Bay, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and many others.
Grape varieties range from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Some Central Coast wine is generic, bulk wine that contributes to the high production numbers of the area. But many winemakers and wineries, particular in some of the smaller AVAs, are small production artisans, creating unique and high-quality wine. The great thing about the Central Coast is its diversity - you're able to find a number of grape varieties and styles at a number of different price points.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.