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 a mix of 1200-gallon foudres (for about a third of the Roussanne and Grenache Blanc), small French oak barrels (for another third of the Roussanne) and stainless steel (for the last third of the Roussanne, as well as two-thirds of the Grenache Blanc, and all our Marsanne and Viognier). 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 named Esprit de Tablas (formerly Esprit de Beaucastel), with the red based on Mourvèdre, and the white based on Roussanne. These wines are rich, balanced, and ageable, and should reward time in bottle to mature.
Our Côtes de Tablas wines are blended to be lushly fruity and appealing, approachable sooner than our Esprit wines. The Cotes de Tablas is based on Grenache, while the Côtes de Tablas Blanc is based on Viognier.
Our Patelin de Tablas wines 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. The Patelin de Tablas is based on Syrah, while the Patelin de Tablas Blanc is based on Grenache Blanc, and the Patelin de Tablas Rosé is based on Grenache.
In addition to our red and white Rhône blends, we produce our rich, dry Dianthus rosé, small quantities of a rotating roster of varietal wines, as well as occasional small-production blends and sweet wines. More about our wines »
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.
Neil was named San Luis Obispo County Winemaker of the Year in 2013.
You can read our updates and musings on winemaking on the Tablas Creek blog.
Join Tablas Creek's winemaking team on Saturday, February 28th to look back at 2005 with the perspective of ten years' time. 2005 was a big, personality-filled vintage, often robust and tannic in its youth, which has proven to age in a fascinating way. At this horizontal tasting we'll try 10 different 2005's, from Esprit Blanc to Counoise to Panoplie to Vin de Paille. Details & More Events »
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 »
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 »
February 23, 2015
Normally, the sign at the edge of our head-trained Mourvedre vineyard just outside our tasting room is to protect people from a twisted ankle, should they stray off the tarmac. Now, we're worried we might lose them in the cover crop! Read More »