2019 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Vaccarèse, Adelaida District, Paso Robles.
I was thrilled to get this exciting new wine from Tablas Creek, made from the rare Chateauneuf du Pape red grape Vaccarèse, as it is a grape I’ve never had as a solo varietal wine, in fact I don’t know if there has ever been one made in France, let alone California. This Vaccarese is Tablas Creek’s first (and California’s first-ever) varietal bottling of this rare Rhone blending grape, it was propagated here at their estate in Paso from budwood cuttings that came from the Perrin Family’s famous Château de Beaucastel not far from the historic town of Avignon in the southern Rhone Valley. With little palate reference to go on, I found this Vaccarèse with its beautiful purple and ruby color like a mix of Carignan (deeply hued) and Cinsault (good bright acidity) with a certain amount of tanginess and a lively medium body with dark fruits including blackberry, cranberry, tartly fresh wild plum and Italian cherries along hint of juniper berries, cigar wrapper, resiny herbs, cedary spices and a light sense of peony and porporri florals. This Vaccarèse really grew on me as it opened up, gaining a pleasing textural grace, while still remaining its vitality and taut form, it adds touches of earthy, chalky mineral notes and played well with the meal, in fact it was delicious with food, in particular with a plate of pasta with basil and hard sheep’s cheese.
Tablas Creek, which has brought us in California so many gifts in the form of almost all of the legal Chateauneuf grapes, plus a few others from the Southwest of France, including Tannat, the dark and tannic Basque grape, famous in fiery wines of IIrouléguy. Vaccarèse, as noted above, is a little-known blending grape native to the south of France with less than 30 acres planted in its homeland, making it is one of Chateauneuf du Pape’s rarest varietals, like Terret Noir, which Tablas also has here in Paso, and there is only two-thirds of an acre of Vaccarèse, and Tablas’ 2019 production was just 160 cases. The winemaking was kept simple and traditional to show off the grape’s pure flavors and what terroir influence it is marked with, all of which delivered a freshly detailed and entertaining wine that has a nice refined balance and moderate alcohol coming in at about 13%. The Vaccarèse looks to have a tons of promise and potential with this wine over performing to expectations, in my case, and I hope it makes it into the varietal wines collection on a full time basis and I look forward to seeing it added to the blend of some of the other wines. These is a lot to be grateful to the Haas family for, I honestly think Tablas Creek has played a huge and beneficial part to modern California wine, it is a legacy that will live on for generations, and I personally want to say Thank You, especially after enjoying this new Vaccarèse!
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive