Tablas Creek Vineyard » Profile
Founded by the Perrins (Chateau de Beaucastel) and importer Robert Haas, Tablas Creek produces estate-grown, internationally recognized Rhone varietals and Chateauneuf-du-Pape style blends from grapes including Syrah, Mourvedre, Viognier and Roussanne. A unique tour showcases the on-site grapevine nursery, organic vineyard, winery and tasting room with Provencal gifts. Tasting 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; free tours daily by appointment. 9339 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446. 805.237.1231. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.tablascreek.com
Tablas Creek Vineyard is the result of a 30-year friendship between Robert Haas, Jean-Pierre Perrin and Francois Perrin. If these names sound familiar, they should. For almost 30 years, Haas has been introducing fine European wines to the rest of the country through his importing company Vineyard Brands, and also bringing some of the leading California wineries to the national stage, including Kistler, Phelps, Sonoma Cutrer, Chappellet, and Hanzell. One of the French producers he introduced to the American market was Chateau de Beaucastel, owned by the Perrin family. The Perrins have been cultivating vineyards in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape region of the southern Rhone since the 19th century, and their 20th century contributions to the world of wine include Chau de Beaucastel, Domaines Perrin and La Vieille Ferme.
The notion of a California vineyard venture began as early as the mid-1970s, but Haas and the Perrins had little time to devote to such a project until 1987. At that time, they started an extensive search throughout the state for vineyard land that would closely approximate the climate and soils of the southern Rhone Valley: limestone soils, a favorable climate, and rugged terrain. In 1989, after a two-year search, the partnership bought a 120-acre parcel in the Las Tablas district of northwest Paso Robles.
Haas and the Perrins knew the Rhone varietals they wanted to focus on: Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache and Counoise for reds, and Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc for whites. However, they felt uneasy about the quality of Rhone grapevine stock available domestically and decided to import fresh cuttings of all eight varietals from Chateau de Beaucastel. The cuttings spent three years in a rigorous U.S.D.A. quarantine program before being released to the property in 1993. Over the next decade, Tablas Creek's grapevine nursery (the only on-site vine nursery of any vineyard in California) would provide millions of cuttings of high-quality Rhone varietals to Tablas Creek, and, eventually, hundreds of other producers around the West Coast.
Tablas Creek is operated in much the same way as Chateau de Beaucastel, with a certified organic vineyard, an emphasis on wines of elegance and minerality, and an ongoing spirit of experimentation. However, for all its reliance on the expertise and experience of the French vineyard, Tablas Creek Vineyard is not trying to be a clone of its older cousin. According to Winemaker Neil Collins, "when people taste Beaucastel, they know it's Beaucastel. I would hope that people will taste Tablas Creek and know it's Tablas Creek."
This focus on terroir means a hands-off approach throughout the winegrowing and winemaking process. The vineyard is certified organic and largely dry farmed. The grapes are fermented using indigenous yeast. Wines are aged in a balance of stainless steel and neutral French oak barrels to allow the subtleties of place (the "somewhereness" of the wine, according to Robert Haas) to show through. And, perhaps most importantly, all Tablas Creek wines are made 100% from fruit grown on the estate. "This site was chosen for the soils and the climate," said Collins. "After we've made all this effort in the vineyard to let the grapes express themselves, why would we want to express someone else's yeast or barrel making? We want the most intense expression of the grape varieties and soil that we can get."
The vineyard's signature red wine is the Esprit de Beaucastel, a richly intense wine based on Mourvedre, with its signature flavors of red fruits, cocoa, roasted meats, and spice. The signature white Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, based on Roussanne, is honeyed yet fresh, with flavors of pear, honeysuckle and anise. Both wines have received numerous awards, including year-end "Top 100" recognition from the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Also be sure to try the Cote de Tablas and Cote de Tablas Blanc wines, both blended for clean, bright fruit and spice flavors, and ready to drink younger than the Esprits. Recently, Tablas Creek began producing some excellent single varietal wines, and Robert Parker has called their Rose "the finest made in California."
9339 Adelaida Road
Paso Robles, 93446
Open Daily 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Red Rhône Blend
White Rhône Blend