Grapes

There are dozens of varietals grown in the Rhône Valley in France. 13 of these are approved in Châteauneuf du Pape, with another 8 approved in the Côtes du Rhône appellation. We chose to import the 9 chief varietals of the Southern Rhône for our Paso Robles estate vineyard: Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, and Counoise for the reds, and Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, and Picpoul for the whites.

All these grape varietals (and more) are available from the Tablas Creek Nursery.

Red Grapes

Mourvèdre grapes

Mourvèdre

Mourvèdre provides structure, backbone, and aging potential. It tastes of ripe plum and strawberry fruit, with animal flavors of red meat and mushrooms when young, and leather and truffles as it ages. Dark purple-black color.

Historically, Mourvèdre was the most widely planted grape in the Southern Rhône before Phylloxera decimated vineyards in the late 1800s. Replanting was slow, as rootstocks for Mourvèdre were developed only after World War II. Jacques Perrin of Chateau de Beaucastel led regeneration efforts. Learn more about Mourvèdre »

Syrah grapes

Syrah

Syrah provides firm tannin and aromatics, as well as blackberry and currant fruit. It tastes of smoke, tar, and black pepper. Intense dark blood red color.

Syrah is best known from the the Northern Rhône appellations of Hermitage and Côte-Rotie, where it produces wines of phenomenal elegance and longevity. It is tremendously flexible, and can be made in styles from elegant and restrained through to wines bursting with fruit, in locations as diverse as France, California, South Africa, and Australia (where it is known as Shiraz). Learn more about Syrah »

Grenache grapes

Grenache

Grenache provides fruit, tannin, and acidity. It tastes of currant, cherry, and raisin, with aromatic spice of black pepper, menthol, and licorice. Brilliant ruby red color.

Grenache (also known as Grenache Noir) is the most widely planted grape in the Rhône Valley. It is vigorous, and at high production makes wines that are simple, friendly and approachable. When production is restricted, Grenache can assume tremendous depth and longevity, yet can still open up tighter, more tannic varietals such as Syrah and Mourvèdre. Learn more about Grenache »

Counoise grapes

Counoise

Counoise tastes of blueberry and strawberry fruit with spice notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. It has soft tannins and is a ripe purple-red color.

One of the lesser-known Châteauneuf du Pape varietals, Counoise's appealing spice and soft tannins act as a compliment for the more tannic higher-alcohol varietals such as Syrah. Counoise was first brought into the United States by Tablas Creek, and recognized by the BATF in 2000. Learn more about Counoise »

White Grapes

Roussanne grapes

Roussanne

Roussanne provides golden color, excellent aging potential, and tastes of honey and honeysuckle fruit. It has rose and nutty aromatics, with a rich glycerin mouthfeel and moderate acidity.

Roussanne is notoriously difficult to grow, and has in much of the world been replaced with the more amenable Marsanne. But at Beaucastel, it makes one of the world's greatest rich, ageable whites. Learn more about Roussanne »

Viognier grapes

Viognier

Viognier is highly aromatic, with a nose of peach, apricot, and violets. It has a mineral mouth with more peach fruit and moderate acidity. Pale pink-gold color.

Viognier is grown in the Northern Rhône valley, and reaches its peak in the appellations of Condrieu and Château Grillet. In California, it produces richer, more tropical wines, often low on acidity. It is sometimes confused with Roussanne. Learn more about Viognier »

Grenache Blanc grapes

Grenache Blanc

Grenache Blanc has firm acidity, green apple and citrus flavors, and white flower aromatics.

Grenache Blanc is the 4th most widely planted white grape in France, and its crisp acids complement many of the lower-acid white Rhône varietals. Tablas Creek was the first winery to import Grenache Blanc into the United States, and it was recognized by the BATF in 2003. Learn more about Grenache Blanc »

Marsanne grapes

Marsanne

Marsanne tastes of melon and minerals, and has a golden straw color.

Marsanne is a flexible and adaptible grape found throughout the Rhône valley. It reaches its peak in the appellation of Hermitage in the Northern Rhône, where it is often blended with Roussanne. Its tendency to pick up mineral character from the soils makes it an important piece of many wines which wish to express the terroir of their site. Learn more about Marsanne »

Picpoul grapes

Picpoul

Picpoul, literally translating to “lip stinger”, produces wines known in France for their bright acidity, minerality, and clean lemony flavor.

Picpoul Blanc, the most recent Rhône arrival at Tablas Creek, has thrived in California. In France, it produces wines very high in acid, but in California it adds to this brightness a tropical lushness reminiscent of Piña Colada that is delicious on its own but also an excellent blending component. Learn more about Picpoul »

Non-Rhône Varietals

In addition to our Rhône varietals, we are one of the only California wineries to grow Tannat and Vermentino.

For More Information

More information about these and other Rhône varietals can be found online. Two particularly good resources are the Rhône Rangers and the Hospice du Rhône.

Events

En Gobelet Vertical Tasting and Dry Farming Exploration

Since 2007, we have made our En Gobelet exclusively from dry-farmed, head-trained vineyard blocks. The results have been so compelling that we're planning to plant our entire new parcel -- all 55 acres -- in this style over the coming decade. Join us for this vertical tasting of every vintage of En Gobelet, from the 2007 to the newly-blended 2014. We'll also offer, before the tasting, an optional hike led by Viticulturist Levi Glenn through the rugged Scruffy Hill block from which we source most of the wine, and finish with a picnic lunch on our patio. $60 for wine club members and $75 for guests. Reservations are essential; we expect this to sell out. To reserve, email us at events@tablascreek.com or call us at 805.237.1231 ext 30.  Details & More Events »


Tablas Creek News

MA Shipping Permit Received!

We are thrilled to announce that we've received our shipping permit from the great state of Massachusetts. Residents of the Bay State can now order wine or become VINsider Wine Club members.  More shipping news »

Antonio Galloni 8/14: 30 Wines 90+

In August, Antonio Galloni published the results of his annual visit to Tablas Creek, and we were excited to receive such good reviews from this notoriously tough grader. Notes included the 2012 Esprit de Tablas Blanc (92 points; “impeccably refined”), 2011 Panoplie (94 points; "pure elegance"), 2012 Patelin de Tablas (90 points; “a gorgeous wine and a fabulous value”), and the 2012 Esprit de Tablas (93-95 points; "a fascinating Esprit to follow over the coming years"). Read the complete review » More recent press »


On the Tablas Blog

On the Road: a Rhone Pilgrimage

June 24, 2015
By: Darren Delmore
I had the distinct pleasure of tagging along last week on a trade visit to the Perrin family's holdings in the Rhone Valley. Our odyssey began with our thirsty quintet of wine professionals packed into an undersized rental car like foie gras terrine as we traversed from Dijon to Valence. I sat shotgun with GPS in hand and snails in my belly as we watched the landscape change from the sunflowers and Charolais beef pastures of Burgundy to the lavender fields and olive groves of the Rhone. Read More »