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.
Red 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.
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 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.
Neil 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.
You can read our updates and musings on winemaking on the Tablas Creek blog.
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 »
We were thrilled to receive such good reviews from this notoriously tough grader, including 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 »
August 18, 2014
Last month I was surprised to read a headline on the industry portal Wine Industry Network titled Direct to Consumer Sales Fails to Lift the Wine Industry. As a winery whose business model works only because of direct sales, I was curious to learn more... Read More »