2018 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Roussane, Adelaida District, Paso Robles.
A touch livelier than the prior few vintages and with a welcome zippy freshness of detail the 2018 Roussanne still has its impressive density on the palate with rich stone fruit and a phenolic intensity that let you know this is a serious wine, and of course tells it is Roussanne with the traces of waxy/oily notes. Tablas has now done close to twenty years of single varietal Roussanne and this Rhone grape has played a big role in their rise as a winery being a key varietal in their Esprit de Tablas Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape blend, as well as being the major white grape of their cousin, Chateau de Beaucastel’s Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes by the Perrin Family, who are partners in Tablas Creek with the Haas family. This vintage with cooler personality, starting nicely crisp, gets more powerful with air in the glass unfolding in almost red wine like feel with layers of apricot, mixed citrus which comes through with a bright lemon tone and tart peach as well as clove spice, butterscotch, hazelnut and bitter almond oil along with subtle white flowers, tangy herb and lingering honeycomb. Once fully open the palate expands out to lavish full bodied white that makes you want something decedent on the menu, I can see Lobster tail and or swordfish steaks, and the oak influence adds a nice set toasty note that frames this Roussanne very well.
Tablas Creek makes their Roussanne using a combination of wood vessels and was blended from particular separate lots, 100% Roussanne and 100% estate grown hand harvested grapes, with all the fruit coming into the winery with excellent flavor development, vibrant acidity and very natural moderate alcohol, in 2018 this Roussanne is labeled at 12.4%, which helps explain the fine balance here. The winemakers, according to Tablas Creek’s notes, selected to use 55% from lager foudre, 35% from neutral oak puncheons, and 10% in small new French Burgundy type barriques, which adds the caramel/vanilla accent. White Rhone grapes are seeing a new rise in popularity with rare varieties like Grenache Blanc, Vermentino (Rolle), Picpoul and Clairette gaining new vineyard area each year, while classics like Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne showing renewed interest, much of that attention was stoked by the efforts here at Tablas Creek, who brought over quality clones and cuttings from France. This 2018 Roussanne is very expressive stuff, with its delicate mineral and crushed chalk details that come through with time hidden behind the weighty fruit and its one the best vintages I’ve tried, I am confident that it will age well too, I can see it lasting a decade, you can see in this vintage see a similar profile to well made Saint-Joseph(s) and or Guigal’s Hermitage Blanc. For those searching out a standard barer California Roussanne, should check out Stolpman’s, Alban’s and this Tablas Creek version, to name a few very impactful examples.
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive