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Tablas Creek Cotes de Tablas Rouge 2006
Like most wines of the Southern Rhône, it is a blend of varietals, featuring the fruitiness of Grenache balanced by the spice and structure of Syrah, with meaty, earthy notes from Mourvedre and Counoise. The 2006 Côtes de Tablas has an intensely Grenache nose of cherries, rare steak and pepper. It is medium-bodied, with rich juicy, spicy flavors, gentle ripe tannins and a finish laced with licorice.
"The more challenging 2006 vintage has produced a lighter-styled, medium-bodied, soft, pleasant 2006 Côtes de Tablas, a blend of 72% Grenache, 11% Syrah, 9% Mourvèdre, and the rest mixed varietals. It exhibits a dark ruby color, medium body, soft fruit, plenty of red currant and smoked duck notes, and hints of licorice as well as mint." Robert Parker's
"Bright red. Impressively complex nose offers a complex array of red fruits, flowers and spices, along with cured meat and smoky minerals. Deep, sweet and focused, displaying energetic
raspberry and cherry flavors and picking up tangy minerals on the back end. Sweet red fruits linger on the finish, which is refreshingly spicy and brisk. General manager Jason Haas told me that they like 2006 here 'because of the vintage's great purity and freshness.'" 91 Points
International Wine Cellar
The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces the majority of the state's wine. The sprawling district covers most of the vineyard land between San Francisco and Santa Barbara from the coast inland nearly all the way to the Central Valley. Encompassing an extremely diverse array of climates, soil types, and wine styles, it contains many smaller sub-AVAs, including Monterey, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, and Santa Cruz Mountains.
Just about every major international grape variety is planted within this vast AVA, from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. A significant proportion of the region’s produce is generic, inexpensive bulk wine, but the Central Coast is also home to many small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as everything in between.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of spice, Rhône red blends originated in France’s Southern Rhône valley and have become popular in Priorat, Washington, South Australia, and California’s Central Coast. In the Rhône itself, 19 grape varieties are permitted for use, but many of these blends, are based on Grenache and supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre, earning the nickname “GSM blends.” Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are perhaps the best-known outposts for these wines. Other varieties that may be found in Rhône blends include Carignan, Cinsault, and Counoise.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache, which often forms the base of these blends, is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit, a plush texture, and often high levels of alcohol. Syrah supplies darker fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy, and meaty notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume as well as body, tannin, and a healthy dose of color. New World examples will lie further along the fruit-forward end of the spectrum, while those from the Old World taste and smell much earthier, often with a “barnyard” character that is attractive to many fans of these wines.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. Depending on the weight and alcohol level, these can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes—they play equally well with beef, pork, duck, lamb, or game. With their high acidity, these wines are best-matched with salty or fatty foods, and can handle the acidity of tomato sauce in pizza or pasta. Braised beef cheeks, grilled lamb sausages, or roasted squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the Rhône red blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin, and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or even Tempranillo make an appearance.