One of the elite wineries of Paso Robles, Tablas Creek Vineyard produces Rhone Valley-inspired wines from some of the healthiest vines on the planet. Its pedigree explains everything.
Tablas Creek is the realization of the combined efforts of two of the international wine community’s leading families: the Perrin family, of Château de Beaucastel, and the Haas family of Beaucastel’s American importer Vineyard Brands. The two families’ partnership begun in 1987 remains today as strong as ever.
Chateau Beaucastel is one of Chateauneuf-du-Pape's great estates and is mentioned in literature as early as 1549. Jacques Perrin, who oversaw the estate in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, has been recognized for bringing the region to recognition, for being a pioneer of organic farming, and for leading the regeneration of traditional grape varieties, most notably Mourvedre.
Robert Hass and Jacques Perrin formed a relationship after Vineyard Brands became the exclusive importer of Chateau Beaucastel wines to the US. After a lot of traveling, the two became close friends and set off on a project where they believed Rhône varieties would grow nicely in the Mediterranean climate of California.
In 1989 the two discovered a parcel of land just outside of Paso Robles in the Adelaida district and named it Tablas Creek Vineyards after a small creek running through the property. The property elevation averages 1,500 feet, and the shallow, rocky limestone soils are of the same geologic origin as those at Beaucastel. Summer days are hot and sunny, but the influence of the nearby Pacific cools the nights, and the remarkably Rhône-like Paso Robles climate allows the grapes to mature fully and yet retain crisp acidity. Ample rainfall in the winter allows most of the vineyard to be dry-farmed each year.
Of course, the vines on the property came directly from the Beaucastel estate to ensure quality and genetic purity. The first vintage was produced in 1997. The estate mainly produces red wines made up of Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, and Counoise, while the white wines are mainly produced from Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, and Viognier with a few other varieties serving in supporting roles.
Tablas Creek is a 120 acre organic estate certified in 2003. In 2010, the estate started to also employ biodynamic farming techniques and received their certification in 2017. The team at Tablas Creek decided to focus on the nine key Southern Rhône varieties Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, and Counoise for the reds, and Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, and Picpoul for the whites. They recently imported 7 additional grape varieties to complete their Chateauneuf-du-Pape collection: collection: Clairette, Bourboulenc, Vaccarese, Cinsaut, Picardan, Muscardin, and Terret Noir.
The main wines of Tablas Creek Vineyard are organized in three tiers, Patelin de Tablas, Cotes de Tablas and the super-premium Esprit de Tablas.
Patelin de Tablas
The Neighbor Wine. This wine incorporates Rhône varieties from nearby vineyards. Patelin is slang for neighbor. Made from 8-12 Paso Robles Rhône variety vineyards mostly planted from the Tablas Creek nursery cuttings. The wines are all made at Tablas Creek in the same style using native yeasts.
Patelin de Tablas Blanc is based on Grenache Blanc, with additions of Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Clairette Blanche, aged in stainless steel. The 2018 Patelin de Tablas Blanc is intensely Rhone-like on the nose, with notes of honeysuckle, orange zest, anise, and crushed rock. In the mouth, it's lush but vibrant with mandarin orange, nectarine, white flowers, and a saline mid-palate. The long, zesty finish shows citrus pith and sea spray minerality, with a lingering orange blossom note.
$24.99 per bottle
Patelin de Tablas red is based on Syrah, with additions of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Counoise, aged in 1500-gallon French oak. A dark, spicy Syrah-driven nose reminiscent of Cornas: teriyaki, black olive, eucalyptus and black plum. On the palate, meaty and juicy, with flavors of soy marinade, black raspberry, wood smoke and white pepper. The long, gently tannic finish lingers with black fruit and spice.
$24.99 per bottle
Cotes de Tablas
Made exclusively from Rhône varieties and all 100% estate grown. Chosen for the drinkability now as opposed to the ageworthy Espirt de Tablas grapes. Cotes de Tablas red is based on Grenache, with additions of Syrah, Counoise, and Mourvedre, aged in 1200-gallon French oak foudres (large oak casks).
Cotes de Tablas Blanc has its base of Viognier with additions of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Rousanne and aged in stainless steel.
A deep nose, powerfully reminiscent of Syrah and the Rhone, with notes of soy marinade, black pepper, chocolate, and fig. On the palate, equally balanced between Grenache's red fruit and acid and Syrah's dark fruit and power, with flavors of kirsch, bittersweet chocolate, black cherry, and chalky tannins. A serious, powerful Cotes de Tablas that is already delicious but with the stuffing to age.
$33.99 per bottle
An elegant nose of apricots cut with lemon, Asian spices, and crushed rock. The mouth is balanced right between Viognier and Grenache Blanc character, with flavors of nectarine and lemon verbena. A clean, fresh, and elegant finish rounds out the wine, leaving a lingering impression of sea spray minerality.
$28.99 per bottle
Esprit de Tablas
Modeled after Chateau Beaucastel; meaning it is made with Chateauneuf-du-Pape grape varieties. Selected from the top 15-20% of estate grown lots each year. Aged in 1200 gallon foudres for an extended period of time. Made to age in the cellar for years.
A lifted nose of orange blossom, honeycomb, and spicy pine nut. On the palate, the signature clean, precise elegance of the 2018 vintage, with flavors of baked custard, marmalade, and saline minerality, deepened by a little sweet oak. Then lively and juicy on the finish like biting into a fresh pear, complete with the little hint of pear skin tannin. A balanced, elegant Esprit Blanc that the winery expects to go out two decades, gaining additional nuttiness and complexity with time in bottle.
$44.99 per bottle
A deep, brooding Mourvèdre nose of loamy redcurrant and roasted meats, new leather and black plum. The mouth shows spicy licorice and nutmeg lift over baked plums and Mourvèdre's signature plum skin tannin maintaining balance with the wine's mouth-coating texture. The long, richly tannic finish, with lingering flavors of wood smoke, roasted meat, and crushed rock, promises more rewards to come with cellar aging. The winery recommends that you drink either between now and 2023 or again starting in 2026 any time over the subsequent two decades
$58.99 per bottle