Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles

by Stevie on May 21, 2009

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the famous Chimney Rock on the drive to Tablas Creek

the famous Chimney Rock on the drive to Tablas Creek

The weirdcombos tasting crew have been big fans of Tablas Creek for about a year now. We first “discovered” them at the annual Paso Robles wine festival. There we tried the amazing Tablas Creek 2005 Cotes de Tablas, a red blend of grenache (43%), mourvedre (24%), syrah (18%) and counoise (15%). Since then, we’ve ordered about two cases more of the wine and have been chomping at the bit to get back down to Paso Robles to try the winery itself.

The drive from San Francisco to Paso Robles is about 200 miles, so you should plan on staying a night or two. We went last Thursday to see Tablas Creek, two days before the 2009 Paso Robles wine festival. The winery is located in the western part of town in the foothills of the Santa Lucia mountains. It’s a joint venture between an American, Robert Haas, and the Perrin family of France, most famously known as the proprietors of Chateau de Beaucastel.

At any rate, we are psyched by this winery!

how far to Domaine de Beaucastel?!?

how far to Domaine de Beaucastel?!?

We took the San Marcos Road exit off of 101 South. It leads to Chimney Rock Road which eventually connects you to Adelaide Road, where the place is located. This drive has lots of switchbacks and seemed very isolated. We did not see any other cars for miles, but came across lots of wildlife: dozens of chipmunks crossing the road at one point, two vultures lunching on some road kill, a hawk circling in the air and a hare running from us when we stopped the car to take pics.

Upon arriving at the winery, we first noticed the aroma of rosemary in the air. Tablas Creek has extensive gardens by the main buildings, not to mention the vineyards scattered in the hills all around. There were tons of flowers in bloom with happy bees flitting from one to another. We saw some picnicers enjoying the shade by the entrance. Just around the way from the tasting room, we smelled yeast near where some bottling was taking place.

The tasting room was cool but crowded. I guess that we’re not the only folks excited by this place. It took a bit of time before Sylvia could be freed up to help us. While we waited, we enjoyed a look at the foudres that the winery uses and the odds and ends for sale. I got a great book about wineries on the Central Coast called “Wines and Wineries of California’s Central Coast” by William Ausmus.

Tablas Creek vineyard

Tablas Creek vineyard

We ended up trying eight different wines:

2007 Cotes de Tablas Blanc: Hegui thought that this was good, “thick to the palate” and somewhat sweet with a green grape flavor. Stevie thought that it had a refreshing flowery nose and tasted a bit like buddha’s hand. It’s a blend of viognier, marsanne, roussane and grenache blanc.

2007 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc: Hegui thought that this one had a “light nose” and was “good.” Stevie noted sour apple. It’s a blend of roussane, grenache blanc, and picpoul blanc.

checking out the foudres

checking out the foudres

2008 Rosé: This was a pale orangey pink with a berry flavor–maybe cranberry. It was made from mourvedre, grenache noir, and counoise. Sylvia recommended this one with spicy Thai food or sushi.

2006 Cotes de Tablas: We liked this one though thought that the 2005 was better. This seemed a bit “grape-y” and less interesting. A blend of grenache noir, syrah, mourvedre, and counoise.

2005 Syrah: Hegui thought that this wine was “super dark” with tobacco and jasmine tea aromas and a tannic finish. Stevie felt that it was “subtle.” It was 90% syrah, 10% grenache noir.

2006 Esprit de Beaucastel: Amazingly this was darker than the Syrah. It was almost black. It had a “round” mouth feel and a long finish. 45% mourvedre, 28% grenache noir, 25% syrah, and 5% counoise.

a young syrah vine

a young syrah vine

2005 Esprit de Beaucastel: We felt that this one was more complex, perhaps because it had aged a bit more? It was 44% mourvedre, 26% grenache noir, 25% syrah and 5% counoise.

The “featured wine” was:

2006 Grenache Blanc: This was 100% grenache blanc. It had a bit of an alcoholic smell but Hegui found it to have a good mineral quality. It had an unusual finish that we enjoyed. We ended up buying two bottles of this wine, which Sylvia told us was not available in stores.

The first few wines I’ve seen in wineshops in San Francisco, so we did not purchase more, so that we’d have less to bring back in the searing heat. The tasting fee was $10 but they will waive that if you’re a club member or buy a bottle of wine. This is a beautiful winery making fine wines in a Rhone style. You should check it out!

a selection of very tasty wines

a selection of very tasty wines

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larry schaffer May 21, 2009 at 10:02 am

Thanks for posting notes on Tablas, easily one of the best rhone variety producers in the US. What I really enjoy is their more subtle approach to winemaking, not the ‘over the top’ type of wines commonly found in the area . . .

For another take on grenache blanc, check out my website at . . .

I make grenache blanc from the Camp 4 Vineyard, planted in the late 90’s from cuttings from Tablas and a great site for all things rhone . . .


Stevie May 21, 2009 at 6:07 pm


Your wine sounds pretty interesting. Your site makes it look like it’s in Santa Barbara. That’s a place that the weirdcombos crew wants to visit more! It’s very cool that Tablas gave you some cuttings for your grenache blanc. We liked it a lot at Tablas. Is your wine distributed in San Francisco?

We’ve been real fans of Rhone style wines for ages! Perhaps we’ll have the chance to visit sometime?

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