Winemaking

At Tablas Creek, our winemaking is designed to maximize the expression of place we've begun in our vineyard practices.  Our goal is to bring the wine through the fermentation process while preserving the wine’s links to its grape varieties, its vintage and most importantly its terroir.

Our winemaking begins with our selective harvesting.  Most vineyard blocks are picked by hand two, three or even four times to ensure that the grapes that come into the cellar are at ideal ripeness. 

Because we believe that the particular collection of yeasts that exists at our vineyard is unique, we use only native yeasts in fermentation. Native yeast fermentation gives a diversity of flavors, and a character more specific to the site.

Each varietal fermented separately. White grapes are whole-cluster pressed, and the juice is fermented in aged French oak barrels (for about half the Roussanne) and stainless steel (Marsanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and the other half of the Roussanne). This balance gives a hint of the richness from oak fermentation, without heavy oak flavors that overwhelm the fruit or mask the character of place.

Francois Perrin punches down Syrah at Tablas CreekRed grapes (Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache Noir, and Counoise) are sorted and destemmed after harvest, and the juice and whole berries moved to a mix of open-top stainless steel, closed stainless steel, and 1600-gallon oak upright fermenters. During fermentation, the must is pumped over or punched down, or the cap submerged into the fermenting juice, twice a day. About 10 days after fermentation begins, the red wines are pressed, then moved to barrel to complete their primary and secondary fermentaitons. 

Finally, the spring after harvest, both red and white wines are blended.  White wines are generally returned to stainless steel to settle and integrate briefly, while red wines are moved to 1200-gallon French oak foudres and aged for an additional year. 

Key in our winemaking is our dedication to the art of blending.  As is traditional in Châteauneuf du Pape, we blend our Rhône varietals in an effort to produce wines that are more complex, better balanced, and richer than their components. We believe that having a multitude of flavors allows our wines to pair happily with a wide range of food, and to show appealing character at different ages.

Our Wines

We make three principal tiers of wines.  Our signature red and white Rhône blends are the Esprit de Beaucastel, based on Mourvèdre, and the Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, based on Roussanne. These wines are rich, balanced, and ageable, and should reward time in bottle to mature.

Our Côtes de Tablas, based on Grenache, and Côtes de Tablas Blanc, based on Viognier, are blended to be lushly fruity and appealing, approachable sooner than our Esprit de Beaucastel wines.

Our Patelin de Tablas Blanc, based on Grenache Blanc, and Patelin de Tablas, based on Syrah, include fruit from some of Paso Robles’ top Rhône vineyards in addition to Tablas Creek, and are blended to be bright, fresh and clean, and to offer exceptional value.

In addition to our red and white Rhône blends, we produce a dry Rosé, small quantities of single varietal wines, as well as occasional special blends and dessert wines. More about our wines »

Winemaker Neil Collins

Winemaker Neil CollinsNeil Collins, Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Tablas Creek, was born and raised in Bristol, England. Trained as a chef, he moved into winemaking with stints with John Munch at Adelaida Cellars and Ken Volk at Wild Horse. At Adelaida, Neil met Robert Haas and the Perrins when Tablas Creek was in its infancy. Neil was so intrigued by the project that he offered his services, and spent a year working and learning at Château de Beaucastel.

Before the year was finished, Neil was offered the winemaker position at Tablas Creek, and he has overseen both the organic vineyard and the winery since 1998.

His philosophy is that great wines can only come from great grapes, and that the art of winemaking is founded on starting out with the very best grapes and bringing their juice through fermentation as naturally as possible.

Winemaking on the Tablas Creek Blog

You can read our updates and musings on winemaking on the Tablas Creek blog.

More Winemaking information


Events

Cruise the Rhone with Tablas Creek

Join founders Robert and Barbara Haas and Winemaker Neil Collins on an intimate river cruise up the Rhone Valley from Avignon to Lyon August 2-9, 2015. Daily shore tours include a behind-the-scenes visit to Chateau de Beaucastel. Details »

 


Tablas Creek News

Great press on Tablas Creek rosés

We are thrilled that both our 2013 Dianthus and 2013 Patelin de Tablas Rosé received 91 points from Wine Advocate, as well as recommendations from the Wine Spectator and from the New York Times. We expect both to be out of stock by August, so if you want some, act soon. Order » Browse recent press »

Montana opens to direct shipping

We have received our direct shipping license for the great state of Montana. Residents are now eligible to order wine or sign up for one of our wine clubs. More direct shipping news »


On the Tablas Blog

Tasting the wines in the fall 2014 VINsider Club shipment

July 15, 2014

Every six months, we send out a six-bottle shipment of wines to the members of our VINsider Wine Club. The fall shipment is highlighted by the newest vintages of our Esprit and Esprit BlancRead More »