“No Reservations” Wine Tasting in Paso Robles – Tablas Creek Vineyards

My wife and I do more than our fair share of wine tasting.  We’ve hit all the major wine regions in California (and a few minor ones too;-), along with some tasting in Oregon and Spain.  From time to time we have a wine tasting experience that stands above the rest, and is everything we’re looking for – great wine and commendable service in a relaxed unpretentious environment. It’s those such experiences that are the focus of this “No Reservations” series.  Why “No Reservations”? Because I can honesty say I have “No Reservations”  about recommending the winery anyone who is looking for a great wine tasting experience.  The latest in this series features Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles.

My complete review of Tablas Creek Vineyard, including history, a recap of the tasting experience – including reviews of wines tasted may be found at the American Winery Guide’s website.

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.

Tablas Creek Vineyard Tasting Room

Tablas Creek Vineyard Tasting Room

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.”

Tablas Creek Vineyard Sign 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 Domaine de Beaucastel

My wife and I have been making an annual trip from our home in Northern California to the Central Coast for the last 4 years, and Tablas Creek is at the top of our list for wineries to visit.  Highly Recommended!

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Drink Pink! Rosé of the Week; 2012 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rosé

It’s that time of year… Yes, it’s Rosé season!. With that in mind, I’ve embarked upon a   series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  This week’s Rosé is the 2012 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rosé.

The Winery

Tablas Creek Vineyard (“TCV”) is probably the best-known of all Paso Robles wineries specializing in Rhone style wines.  It is a partnership between Robert Haas, and the Perrin Family of Chateau de Beaucastel in the Chateauneuf du Pape region in FranceWhat I find interesting about TCV is that they specifically chose to establish themselves in Paso Robles because of the similarities of the soil conditions and climate of Paso Robles to Chateauneuf du Pape.  They went as far as to import vines from Chateauneuf du Pape.  The vines were propagated and grafted in their on-site nursery and used to plant their 120 acre organic vineyard.  Check the full story here.

 The Wine

Tablas Creek (“TCV”) is no newcomer to Rosé.  Unlike many relative newcomers who have hopped aboard the dry Rosé bandwagon as of late, TCV has been producing a Rosé since 1999. And that’s no surprise given their association with Chateau de Beaucastel in the Southern Rhone region in France.

Like most rosé wines from the Rhône Valley, it is based on the bright strawberry fruit and fresh acidity of Grenache, with additions of darker fruit, structure and spice from Mourvèdre and Counoise.

What is new for 2012 is that TCV decided to produce two Rosés.  This bottling was added to their excellent value-oriented Patelin de Tablas line, which also also includes the Patelin de Tablas Blanc, based on Grenache Blanc, and Patelin de Tablas, based on Syrah.

The other Rosé is 2012 Dianthus.  While this Rosé is dominated by Grenache, the Dianthus is dominated by Mourvedre.  I’m looking forward to giving that one a try too!

Drink Pink...2012 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rosé

2012 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rosé

My tasting notes follow:

Copper pink color with enticing strawberry, stone-fruit,and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied, and fresh. It’s dry on entry, but closer to off-dry on the back palate with strawberry, watermelon, spice and mineral flavors. Medium + finish. Blend of 75% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 5% Counoise. 14% Alcohol | $20 SRP| 1250 cases produced

Rating:  B+

This is a charming Rosé that is incredibly flexible partner at the table.  Unlike many Rosés, which are great with salads or lighter fare, this one can stand up to heartier fare. TCV recommends it with Crisp Crab Risotto.  Sounds like a winner to me!

Sample purchased for review 

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Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff!  Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2009 Tablas Creek Vineyard Grenache

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2009 Tablas Creek Vineyard Grenache.

The Winery

Tablas Creek Vineyard (“TCV”) is probably the best-known of all Paso Robles wineries specializing in Rhone style wines.  It is a partnership between Robert Haas, and Chateau de Beaucastel in the Chateauneuf du Pape region in FranceWhat I find interesting about TCV is that they specifically chose to establish themselves in Paso Robles because of the similarities of the soil conditions and climate of Paso Robles to Chateauneuf du Pape.  They went as far as to import vines from Chateauneuf du Pape.  The vines were propagated and grafted in their on-site nursery and used to plant their 120 acre organic vineyard.  Check the full story here.

The Wine

The 2009 vintage was the fourth varietal bottling for Tablas Creek.  The fruit for this wine come from Tablas Creek’s 120 acre organic vineyard.  2009 was a challenging year due not only to drought, but also to an April frost.  As a result yields were down. Ah…but tough times for grapes, means more concentrated fruit.  According to TCV…

The low yields and gradual ripening resulted in wines with an appealing lushness, rich texture and wonderful chalky tannins.

The grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks with native yeasts.

2009 Tablas Creek Vineyard Grenache

2009 Tablas Creek Vineyard Grenache

My tasting notes follow:

Medium garnet color with red fruit, spice and slight smoked meat aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied, with nicely integrated tannins, and is fresh and focused with cherry, spice, and mineral flavors. Medium-long finish – 91pts

Rating: Highly Recommended

Pair with: Braises and stews made with beef, pork, or lamb, or a grilled steak. On the poultry front; try with roast turkey, or gamier fowl such as pheasant. A personal favorite is pairing it with Paella.  It’s also is a good match for Cheddar, Fontina, or Gouda, or Jarlsberg cheeses.

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 14.5% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • AVA: > CaliforniaCentral CoastPaso Robles
  • Grape Varieties: 100% Grenache
  • Cooperage: Aged in 1,200-gallon foudre
  • Retail: $40
  • Cases produced: 600
  • Drink: now – 2020

This above wine was purchased for review


Wine Of The Week: 2007 Stage Left Cellars Syrah

My Wine Of The Week for October 6 - October 12 is the 2007 Stage Left Cellars Syrah. 

The Winery

Stage Left Cellars is an urban winery located in Oakland, California not too far from Jack London Square. By urban winery I mean their winemaking facilities are located in an urban setting, rather than in a rural setting near the vineyard.

The winery is owned and operated by Melinda Doty. Her husband, Rich Williams is the winemaker.   Melinda and Rich both had corporate gigs before they decided to exit “Stage Left” and pursue their dream of opening a winery.  Like so many winemakers, they were making wine in their garage before taking the plunge into commercial winemaking.  Their first commercial effort was the 2004 “Day Job” a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvèdre.

Need a bit of inspiration? Check out the tagline that is etched on their bottles…

“What is the one idea you just cannot shake? Do you have the juice to pull it off? If not, why not? You time is now. The world is waiting”

Stage Left is focused primarily on Rhone varietals and Rhone blends.  In addition to this wine, they produce a Viognier, a Viognier/Roussanne blend, a white Rhone blend composed of Viognier/Grenache Blanc/Roussanne (it’s called the “Go Getter; I tasted at the Family Winemakers event last month.  It’s an outstanding wine, I rated it 90pts), Grenache, Petite Sirah,  and a nice variety of red blends.  They source their grapes from throughout California and Oregon. Case production is about 1,200/year

Stage Left is open the first Saturday of each month, and by appointment.  The tasting fee is $5.  Most recently, Stage Left was voted the “Best San Fransisco” area winery for 2011 on the ABC 7 “A” List.  I highly recommend visiting.  You’ll enjoy the wine and they’re great hosts!

The Wine

This was a bottle of wine I’ve had for a couple of years.  I’d love to tell you I meant to do that, but the truth is, I simply  overlooked my stash of Stage Left wines.  I still have a few bottles.  I won’t repeat that mistake with my remaining bottles of Stage Left!

The grapes for this wine were sourced from four different Central Coast vineyards;  Watch Hill Vineyard (Los Alamos – Santa Barbara County, McGinley Vineyard (Happy Canyon – Santa Ynez), Fralich Vineyard (Templeton Gap – Paso Robles) and Rancho Encino (westside Paso).  According to Stage Left…
Each vineyard adds a different element but it seems the westside Paso fruit really shows off with the black pepper on the nose and on the palate. Great acidity – really balanced – and lovely with food. This wine is drinking well now but we expect this to be fantastic in 3-5 years.
The wine was fermented with a combination of native and commercial yeasts.

2007 Stage Left Cellars Syrah

As good fortune would have it, the fact I held on to this bottle was fortuitous.  The wine is drinking beautifully now.  It’s got great balance and is definitely food friendly!

My tasting notes follow:

Nearly opaque black red color with beguiling aromas that changed as the wine opened up. I picked up roasted meat, dark fruits, and green olive notes, On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, smooth and fresh, with velvety tannins and black raspberry, blackberry, and spiced vanilla flavors. Medium long finish. 14.4% alcohol. – 91pts

Highly recommended!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 14.4% alcohol.

Closure: Cork.

AVA: > CaliforniaCentral CoastPaso Robles

Varietal(s): 100% Syrah

Cooperage: 20 months in French and Hungarian Oak (25% new)

Retail: $28

Cases produced: 195

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Wine of the Week: 2007 Edward Sellers Vineyards and Wines Cognito

My Wine Of The Week for September 20-October 5 is the 2007 Edward Sellers Vineyards and Wines Cognito.

The Winery

Edward Sellers Vineyards and Wines is an eponymous artisan winery producing small lots of  Rhone varietal wines, from their 30-acre vineyard in Paso Robles. Ed, who is an entrepreneur, sailor, and pilot, and his wife “discovered” Paso Robles in 2003, and instantly fell in love with the place.

I was introduced to Edward Sellers in 2010 when I attended the annual California Wine Festival in Santa Barbara.  Ed was pouring his wines at the Friday night “Sunset Rare And Reserve Wine Tasting”. I distinctly remember his wines standing head and shoulders above the rest that evening.  We made it a point to drop in his tasting room, which at the time was in downtown Paso, on our way back to the Bay Area.  That’s when I purchased a couple of bottles of this wine (and a few others).   Last year, after attending the same wine festival, again we made it a point to drop in at his tasting room off  West Highway 46.

Paso Robles has made a name for itself, especially for Rhône varietals.   According to edwardsellers.com:

It is Paso Robles’s climate, soils and vineyard diversity that makes Paso Robles ideally suited for growing the Rhône varieties of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Counoise, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc.

The Wine

This is wine a blend of


2007 Edward Sellers Cognito


My tasting note follow:

Nearly opaque violet color with aromatic briary, liquered mixed berry and white pepper aromas. On palate, it’s full-bodied, fruity, intense, with a smooth mouthfeel, good acidity and ripe mixed berry, black cherry, black currant flavors. Med long finish. 40% Mourvèdre/25% Zinfandel/19% Syrah/16% Grenache. 14.3% alcohol. Production 640 cases


The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 14.6% alcohol.

Closure: Cork.

AVA: > CaliforniaCentral CoastPaso Robles

Varietal(s): 40% Mourvèdre, 25% Zinfandel, 20% Syrah, 15% Grenache

Cooperage: 18 months in 100% Neutral French Oak

Retail: $30

Cases produced: 640

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Rosé Smack Down – 10 Rosés; 1 Winner

At the most recent Pacific Pointe Wine Tasting Club it was Dry Rosé Night.  It seems that Rosé is making a comeback, especially here in the US where the very mention of “pink” wines conjures up nightmares of sickly sweet White Zinfandels that seem more like soda than wine. No, these were dry Rosés – the kind that are so versatile with a variety of foods and are the ideal choice for when the weather turns warm, and you can’t make up you mind whether you want a white wine, or red wine.  Look to a chilled glass of refreshing food friendly Rosé!

We blind tasted a diverse group of Rosés from France, California and Italy (Spain was conspicuously missing). Not only were the Rosés from various countries, but they were from diverse locations within France, and California, along with being made from diverse grape varietals, including Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Pinot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Primitivo (labeled as Zinfandel to appeal to American consumers).  The wines were a wine array of colors from very light salmon to strawberry red.  The wines we tasted (along with information about the where the wines were from, the grapes used to make the wine, alcohol content, and price) were as follows:

2009 Chateau Rol Valentin Bordeaux Rose – France>Bordeaux; Blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet France; 13.5% abv – $7

2010 Domaine de la Fouquette – France>Provence; Blend of Grenache (60%), Cinsault (30%), and Rolle (5%); 12% abv$ – $17

2010 La Grenouile Rougante -California>Napa Valley; Blend of Zinfandel (61%), and Valdiguie (39%); 12.2% abv – $15

2010 Josefina Rose  – California>Central Coast>Paso Robles; Syrah; 12.7% abv – $5

2009 Bonterra Rose - California>North Coast>Mendocino Blend of Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Carignane and just a little Grenache (Double Gold Winner 2011 SF Chronicle Competition – Dry Rose <1% residual sugar); 13.4% abv – $16

2009 F&E Ogio Zinfandel Rose - Italy>Puglia. 100% Primitivo; 12.5% abv – $5

2010 Chateau Bas - France>Provence. Blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah; 12.5% abv – $11

2009 - Toad Hollow Eye of the Toad - California>Sonoma County. Pinot Noir; 11% abv – $12

2008 Marquis de Goulaine Rosé D’Anjou La Roseraie – France>Loire Valley>Anjou-Saumur; 11% abv – $8

2009 Cellier du Rhone Rosé  – France>Provence; Grenache; 13.4% abv – $5

I made Brown rice paella for the tasting (Which I modified by substituting the same amount of fresh chorizo for dry-cured chorizo in Step #3, along with substituting about 1.5 lb of a seafood mix of shrimp, calamari, and scallops for the pound of shrimp the recipes calls for, and I also used home-made chicken broth rather than store-bought)

Brown Rice Paella with Chicken, Chorizo, Shrimp, Calamari, Scallops and Mussels

Along with the paella (which I’m pleased to report was a hit;-), we also enjoyed, spicy chicken wings, BBQ chicken wings, grilled chicken, fried calamari, home-made hummus, artichoke and jalapeno dip, fruit salad, and sundry cheese and crackers.  And as advertised, the dry Rosés paired nicely with the wide variety of food.


The Winner...2010 Domaine de la Fouquette-Cuvee Rosee d'Aurore

For more pictures of our wonderful evening of wine, foods, and fellowship with friends, old and new, click here (Photos courtesy of Gigi Yulo Redmond, and Jojo Ong)

Cali Zinfandel Flavor Characteristics

According to Wikipidia:

California regions

In California, 20% of the Zinfandel-growing counties hold 80% of the Zinfandel growing area; however, major producing areas such as San Joaquin County, Stanislaus County, and Madera County produce Zinfandel primarily for blends or jug wine.

Certain California regions are regarded as “exceptional” for Zinfandel, each with identifiable flavor characteristics.

  • Amador has a reputation for big, full-bodied Zinfandel. These extra-ripe wines have been called jammy, briary, and brambly, having aromas of sweet berries.
  • Although the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA in Santa Clara Valley produces Zinfandel from just 9 acres (3.64 hectares), the Zinfandel from that region is known for its complexity and depth.
  • Sonoma county has a Zinfandel-producing land area second only to that of San Joaquin County. The county contains the warm Dry Creek Valley AVA, known for its juicy Zinfandel with bright fruit, balanced acidity and notes of blackberry, anise and pepper. Dry Creek Valley produces Zinfandel in a variety of styles ranging from the high-alcohol Amador style to balanced, spicy wines.
  • San Luis Obispo, particularly the Paso Robles AVA with its hot days and cool maritime evenings, produces Zinfandel known for being soft and round.
  • While the Napa Valley AVA is known primarily for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, Napa also produces Zinfandel wines described as plummy and intense, tasting of red berry fruits with cedar and vanilla. Zinfandel in Napa tends to be made in a claret style like red Bordeaux.
  • The Russian River Valley generally produces well during warm vintages. Otherwise, the grapes do not fully ripen, leaving the wines with excessive acidity. The area has mostly “old vine” Zinfandel, characterized as spicy and somewhat lower in alcohol than Zinfandel from other regions.
  • Mendocino County Zinfandel wines have been considered high quality, but they are less known because they are not heavily marketed.
  • Lodi has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in California. While often used for White Zinfandel production, in the red style, Lodi Zinfandels have a reputation for being juicy and approachable.