September 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Bottles of Wine: 2003 Tablas Creek Espirit de Beaucastel

I opened my last bottle of the 2003 Tablas Creek Espirit de Beaucastel this past weekend. I went through a period when Tablas Creek was one of my favorite California wineries. Tablas Creek makes great Rhone-styled wines in Paso Robles, CA. The Espirit bottling represents a collaboration between Tablas Creek and the Perrin family who operate one of the Rhone Valley's greatest estates, Chateau de Beaucastel.

Coincidentally, while Tweeting about my weekend drinking activities, local wine instructor, aficionado, and blogger, Elizabeth Schneider of Wine For Normal People was ready to open the same bottle. We agreed to open the bottles this past weekend and post on our experiences following our respective tastings.
According to my Cellartracker account, I had consumed (and really enjoyed) 5 bottles of this wine (as well as several other vintages of numerous Tablas Creek wines) over the past four years. Initially, this 2003 revealed a rather brawny and tannic wine that needed some time to shed its youthful outer shell. This  recent bottle was the most "ready" of any of the bottles opened. The tannins had mostly faded to a sweet backdrop and the darkish fruit was open, sweet, and lush. The wine will probably drink well for many more years, but there's really no reason to wait to open a bottle.

Now, it seems that my bottle showed a lot better than the bottle that Elizabeth opened. You can find her full report on her blog, but a snippet from her review reveals a bottle that was, "tight, acidic, and lacked any fruitiness. It had harsh vinegar notes and was thoroughly unpleasant." An experience that was far different than what I tasted in the bottle I opened.

So, what's the point of a post on the two bottles here? Well, as Elizabeth deftly points out, there are a couple of points. One being that bottle variation exists because wine is a fragile, living substance that is open to numerous conditions from barrel to bottle that may compromise the wines vitality and ability to age. There were 2000 cases of this wine produced, that's 24,000 bottles of wine! There are bound to be some inconsistencies. The other lesson here is that is difficult to judge a winery on the sampling of one random bottle of wine. Remember this the next time you want to write off a wine or winery after just one taste.

Oh yeah...the last point is that Tablas Creek makes great wines. Go get some!

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