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by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

New Releases from Tablas Creek - September 28, 2011

We tasted last night (9/28/11) mostly the new TablasCreek releases:

  1. TablasCreekVnyds PicpoulBlanc PasoRobles (13.0%; www.TablasCreek.com) 2010: Light gold color; very fragrant floral/apple blossoms/pears slight creamy lovely perfumed nose; soft slight stony/mineral/Picpoul rather floral/blossomy/pears slight candied/ripe flavor; med.long light stony/mineral/metallic some floral/pears/apple blossom perfumed finish; lots of perfumed/fragrance and not the usual austere stony character of the Tablas Picpoul; well-priced at $21.60
  2. TablasCreekVnyds Marsanne PasoRobles (13.0%) 2010: Med.light gold color; light hazelnutty/old Rhone some floral/appley rather ripe/apple pie/cinammon slight stony/earthy Marsanne nose; somewhat soft light hazelnutty/Rhonish some apple blossom/appley/floral very light stony flavor; med. soft appley/apple blossom/floral/apple pie/ripe light stony/earthy finish; not the zip & austerity of previous vintages; seems older/more Rhonish than I'd expect of the '10; attractive nose, but doesn't quite deliver on the palate. $24.00
  3. TablasCreekVnyds Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc PasoRobles (60% Roussanne/35% GrenacheBlanc/
    5% PicpoulBlanc; 13.5%) 2010
    : Med.gold color; som stony/minerally/chalky bit valve oil some floral/spicy/fennel/appley/honeysuckle slight creamy lovely/aromatic nose; tart bit lean/tight strong mineral/chalky rather floral/appley/honeysuckle structured flavor; very long some chalky/mineral/stony fairly tart/lean strong floral/honeysuckle/appley finish; a classic EdBBlanc whose best yrs are yet to come; will go out 10-15 yrs; very good price at $32.00
  4. MaisonBleue PetiteJoie Marsanne BousheyVnyd/YakimaVlly (14.5%; www.MBWinery.com) 2009: Med.gold color; slight earthy/pepperminty light toasty/oak/butterscotch some stony/floral/WashState earthy attractive nose; soft rich/lush stony/earthy some toasty/oak/butterscotchy some floral flavor; quite long earthy/dusty/stony some butterscotchy/toasty/oak light floral rather rich/lush/soft finish; seems more like Roussanne and lacks the hard/austere character of Marsanne. $35.00 (vSC)
  5. TablasCreekVnyds Patelin de Tablas PasoRobles (39% Syrah/36% Grenache/22% Mourvedre/3% Counoise; 14.1%; 24% TablasCreekVnyd/24% ChequeraVnyd/13% EdwardSellarsVnyd/11% GlenroseVnyd/11% LaVistaVnyd/9% BriarwoodVnyd/8% Vina del Sol Vnyd) 2010: Med.dark color; some earthy/Rhonish/dusty some blackberry/Syrah/strawberry very light/toasty/oak very attractive nose; tart/bright very pretty/Syrah/blackberry/strawberry balanced flavor w/ light tannins; med.long pretty/blackberry/Syrah/strawberry light earthy/dusty very light oak balanced finish w/ light tannins;
    some like a Guigal CdR w/ more bright fruit and less earthy/funky character; balanced & drinkable and should age for several yrs; quite a lovely Rhone bland at a very attractive price. $20.00
  6. TablasCreekVnyds EnGoblet PasoRobles (56% Mourvedre/23% Tannat/21% Grenache; 14.5%) 2009: Dark color; rather strong plummy/Mourv/licorice/boysenberry pungent/smokey big/ripe/lush slight earthy nose; fairly tart rather hard/tannic (Tannat?) very plummy/licorice/Mourv bit chocolaty/ boysenberry/strawberry earthy flavor; very long lush/rich plummy/ chocolaty/boysenberry/strawberry light earthy fairly hard/tannic finish; needs more age & should go out 10 yrs; strong plummy/licorice character speaks of Mourv and the tannins of Tannat; big wine that should be a good one. $36.00
  7. TablasCreekVnyds Esprit de Beaucastel PasoRobles (40% Mourvedre/28% Syrah/27% Grenache/
    5% Counoise; 14.5%) 2009
    : Dark color; slight herbal very perfumed/fragrant spicy/blackberry/ plummy/licorice/strawberry very aromatic/spicy beautiful/complex nose; tart bit tannic/hard some earthy/mineral/chalky strong blackberry/plummy/strawberry/licorice slight earthy/pungent/smokey balanced/structured complex flavor; very long strong blackberry/plummy/ licorice slight earthy/ pungent/peppery very spicy bit hard/tannic slight chalky/minerally finish; one of the best young EdBRouge yet; needs at least 5 yrs and may go out 20; a beautiful Esprit. $44.00
  8. Epiphany Gypsy SantaBarbaraCnty RW (47% Grenache/22% Mourvedre/19% Counoise/10% Cinsault/2% Syrah; 15.5%; www.EpiphanyCellars.com) 2007: Med.dark color; strong toasty/pencilly/oak blackberry/boysenberry slight herbal/metallic rather strawberry/Grenache/perfumed nose; soft/lush strong toasty/pencilly/oak strong Grenache/strawberry/boysenberry/ripe flavor w/light tannins; very long strong strawberry/Grenache/boysenberry soft/lush strong toasty/ pencilly/oak finish w/ light tannins; lots of lush strawberry Grenache fruit and toasty oak but a bit lacking in structure; much like a d'Arenberg Grenache; nice/easy-drinking  wine for the price. $21.50 (KK)
  9. Ch. Paul Mas Clos de Savignac Gres de Montpellier AC: Coteaux du Languedoc (#331; 50% Mourvedre/ 30% Syrah/ 20% Grenache; 14%) Pezenas 2008: Very dark color; strong metallic/ pungent/ozone/WWII beacon earthy bit plummy/licorice somewhat reduced/pungent nose; hard/tannic/rough/coarse strong pungent/ozone/WWII beacon little fruit flavor; med. rough/tannic/hard pungent/ozone some burnt/charred/oak finish w/ very little fruit; an ugly/charmless red. $25.50 (KK)
  10. Ch. Paul Mas AC: Coteauc du Languedoc Clos des Mures (Eleve en Fut de Chene; #7350 of 4917 cs;
    83% Syrah/12% Grenache/ 5% Mourvedre; 14%) 2008
    : Very dark color; strong toasty/oak some blackcurranty/blackberry/Syrah bit peppery/earthy attractive nose; rather hard/tannic some toasty/oak rather blackberry/Syrah/earthy flavor; med.long some blackberry/Syrah/blackcurranty some toasty/oak fairly hard/tannic finish; a pretty rough & tumble red but at least has some fruit to it. $22.50 (KK)
  11. La Sauvageonne Les Ruffes AC: Coteaux du Languedoc (14%) StJean de la Blaquiere 2008: Very dark color; slight overripe/oxidized plummy/Recioto-like rather alcoholic very overripe charmless nose; quite hot/alcoholic plummy/Recioto-like underacid slight earthy flavor; med. hot/alcoholic plummy/Recioto/overripe/late-harvesty/raisened slight oxidized finish w/ modest tannins; an overripe utterly charmless red; no bargin at any price. $18.00 (KK)

And the usual nonsense from the BloodyPulpit:

1. Tablas blancs: I was surprised that the Picpoul and the Marsanne had a lot of ripe floral character. These two wines typically show the TCV austere character of their whites. These showed a lot more ripeness/lushness than they typically do, even though the alcohol levels were low.

OTOH, the EspritBlanc was classic TCV Esprit. Maybe one of their best yet. Though quite good now, and speaks mostly of Roussanne; it should show significant improvements over the next 10-15 yrs, maybe longer. Doesn't show the ripeness of the Picpoul & Marsanne.
2. Patelin: French patois for "neighborhood". TCV's new wine made from some Estate grapes, supplemented with purchased grapes from their neighbor vnyds in WestSide Paso. They both show a bit more lushness than the other TCV wines, but still that TCV restraint and elegance. Bot Blanc and Rouge are great values at $20.
3. EnGoblet: This is a wine made from vines on their Estate that are head pruned. Almost no one does head-pruned, newly-planted vnyds these days. I thought this was a terrific wine. They suggested this wine had an elegance & clarity from the head-pruned vines. Not sure I see that in this wine and thought it a pretty big/lush wine.
4. I have, of course, followed TCV from the very start. I was excited when I heard that they were coming to Paso, probably the true ancestral home for Syrah in Calif (GaryEberle's EstrellaRiverVnyd Syrah planting really opened the door to great Syrah in Calif). They brought in all their own cuttings from the Rhone vlly and had to work them thru the quarantine issue (in GenevaStation/NY I believe). The early focus was getting the vnyd started and propagating the Rhone varieties. Their nursery operation was a big part of their business, but I think they've gotten out of selling plant material. I was a bit puzzled in those early yrs why it took them so long to start producing wines. In those early yrs, they made wine from purchased grapes under a different label (forget the name...long time ago). Not sure the source of the grapes, but it was not very good wine. Recall, there was not much in the way of new plantings of grapes, particularly Syrah or Rhone varieties, in WestSidePaso back then, so they were probably EastSide Paso grapes.

When they did, finally, produce their first blended red (forget the name), BobSenn was so excited to show it to me in his LOW&SE tasting room. He could tell from the crestfallen look on my face that I was not impressed. I was expecting something much bigger & richer in the wine, as was becoming the vogue in Calif in those days. It had the understated restraint & balance that I've now come to recognize as the hallmark of TCV wines. "This is a wuss wine" I snorted to Bob. He gave me this knowing wink, as was his tradition when he was confident is his take on a wine, and responded.."You wait and see". About three yrs later, at dinner w/ Bob at the Casmalia HitchingPost, he brought a brown-paper bagged btl & opened it up for me, blind. "Wow" was my first response, then another "wow". It was a beautiful perfumed/fragrant, almost Cote-Rotie floral, kind of wine. "Cote-Rotie" I asked?? I could tell by the smirk on Bob's face that something was up. He unvieled the btl and triumphantly declared "Didn't I tell you". As he often did with me...Bob had the last laugh. Gads...do I miss that guy!!! End of story.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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