Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tablas Creek, Cotes de Tablas Rouge, Paso Robles, 2005, $21

Red grapes native to France”s Rhone Valley include grenache, mourvedre, counoise and syrah, the four varieties used to make this enticing Tablas Creek blend from California. Not too long ago, few Rhone grapes were cultivated in California. Today, more and more California wineries are making exciting wines from them. Tablas Creek, a joint venture between the French Perrin family and its American importer, the Hass family, is one of the leaders.

It”s not surprising that Rhone varieties do well in California, particularly in the Central Coast region. Like southern France, this is a dry, hot area, and these particular grapes have adapted over centuries to precisely those climatic conditions.

Tablas Creek has the added advantage of being on the western side of the Paso Robles appellation, where the soil is rich in limestone, something that provides the wines with enticing depth and complexity.

This red blend tastes of ripe berry fruit with underlying hints of dried herbs, black pepper and an echo of sweet leather in the bouquet. It will pair especially well with hearty stews or braises such as lamb shanks or osso buco.

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