2016 Tablas Creek, Counoise, Adelaida District, Paso Robles.
One of Tablas Creek’s rarest wines, the Counoise Rouge was (and is) one of the favorites of mine when I last tasted at the winery and a wine that continues to fascinate for its life and delicacy of flavors with racy red fruits, spice, mineral and chalky details from the Westside limestone soils of Paso Robles. It’s well noted that the Haas and Perrin families have brought over most of the best plant material or clones from France’s Rhone Valley including all thirteen of the varietals allowed in Chateauneuf du Pape, of which Counoise is one, though only it only makes up about .05% of the total vineyard area within the region, as well as being quite unique here in the new world. Counoise, one of the grapes found in the Perrin’s Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, is a dark-skinned wine grape grown primarily in the Southern Rhône region of France, but is also grown in California and even Washington State, where a few wineries are using in their Rhone blends, like Gramercy Cellars to good effect. It is thought that Counoise adds a peppery note and has good natural acidity, making it a good balancing factor when blended into denser red wines, as it does not have much depth of color or tannin, which makes it less likely to be made into a solo single varietal wine, though Tablas Creek’s version is wonderfully please and complete. There is so much to admire here at Tablas Creek and these wines have so much to offer wine lovers and we certainly have a lot to be thankful for in their efforts in vines and wines!
The 2016 vintage was a brilliant year for reds in the Paso region, with ripe fruit intensity and gripping structures making for wines that feel explosive on the palate and that should age wonderfully as well, and while distinctly lighter and fresher in style this Counoise should also develop nicely for many years to come, though is easy to love now and there isn’t much of an argument to make in waiting too long here. The plum and cherry fruited 2016 Tablas Creek Vineyard Counoise is Tablas Creek’s seventh varietal bottling of this traditional blending grape from the Southern Rhone, of which only 500 cases were made, and it still feels vivid and almost tangy/crisp in the mouth, this another modern California red that can benefit from a slight chill when enjoying it. This 100% Counoise, coming in at 13.5% alcohol, shows Pinot Noir like silken tannin and about the same body with plum, pomegranate, the mentioned cherry, blueberry/cranberry and moro orange fruits along with dusty spices, cinnamony toned, a touch of herbal tea, fennel and framboise all presented in a very transparent way without any oak influences affecting this fun stuff. This ruby/garnet hued Counoise joins a spectacular Tablas lineup of mono-varietal wines which includes their fantastic Vermentino, Picpoul, Mourvedre and Roussanne, plus one of the non Rhone grapes, Tannat, as well as obscure offering like Picardin, Clairette (Blanche) and Terret Noir. Though it must be said, Tablas’ great stuff is their pedigreed blends with their flagship Esprit de Beaucastel white and red being some of the state’s most excellent examples of California Rhones.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive