Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Friday, February 29, 2008

Back To Paso Robles

I'll start with a disappointment and end with a bang - two wines that changed radically in the course of just a few months. The 2004 Turley Ueberroth Zin was a smooth, balanced medium sized beauty with great fruit at the winery. Now we get lots black fruit, but also vegetal, eucalyptus smells and flavors. While technically maybe not a defect, for my palate it is a turn off. What happened? Is it just bottle variation or something else? On the other hand, while the 2004 Tablas Creek Tannat was dark, inky and good at the winery, it has turned into a mind-blowing fruit filled monster - big, inky, purple, spectacularly fruity, but not jammy. Tablas Creek, a collaboration of the American Haas Family and the French Perrin family, was a pioneer in the Rhone Ranger movement in the U.S. and, in fact, many of the starts for Rhone vines in California and Washington came from Tablas Creek. Tannat is not a Rhone variety, but someone in France couldn't help themselves and shipped it anyway. Let us be grateful. Tannat is the main grape in the Irouleguy appellation in the Basque country and in the Madiran appellation of Southwest France. For many years, Madiran was created a black monster, kind of the Grendel of wine, that only mellowed with many years of ageing. When we were at Daguin's Hotel de France restaurant in Auch some years ago, he strongly recommended against Madiran with duck breast as he felt the wine would overwhelm the duck. In recent years, some Madiran and Irouleguy winemakers have softened up as traditional Madiran and Irouleguy are so against the current global taste in wine. The winemaker at Tablas Creek has achieved the perfect balance between Old World tradition and New World fruit. This wine cries out for duck. This wine is loaded with fruit and loaded with tannin. Which will win? The Tablas Creek website says it is "surprisingly approachable", will benefit from three to five years of ageing, and will last for ten years. It certainly has a enough tannin to age, but how will the fruit change? As mentor, Fritsy Haskell used to say, "wine is a living thing!"


  • At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Jason Haas said…

    Hi Gene,

    Thanks for the nice comment on the Tablas Tannat! I think it's one of many grape varieties that struggle to ripen in Europe which are going to prove more compelling (or at least more reliable and more friendly) in California. Picpoul Blanc and Grenache Blanc are two others, and we've banked a lot on Mourvedre being the same.

    In any case, thanks for the mention. We've just released the 2005.....

    All the best,

    Jason Haas
    Tablas Creek Vineyard


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