Tablas Creek Vineyard 2010 Estate Syrah 14.5% ABV, $45

tablas creek

You are probably wondering how a Syrah from Paso Robles could have gotten on to my blog.  Well, I admit, this wine is decidedly not cool-climate Syrah but it does have some characteristics that give it so much elegance that I couldn’t help considering it for a blog entry.  It’s more in the style of a southern Rhone wine, with aromas of dark fruit and licorice, and black olive and cured meat.  The mid-palate is sweeter than I usually like but it does have a lightness which keeps it from being overbearing or cloying.  The finish is all licorice, tobacco, and plum.  There’s barely a hint of oak in the background and it’s balanced into the wine.

Most years the winemaking team at Tablas Creek Vineyard does not make single variety wines.  They blend the wines in the style of the Southern Rhone, which is in fact where their French Partner winery is located (Chateau de Beaucastel).  But every once in a while, when a vintage is particularly good, he decides to make some stand-alone wines.   2010 was one of those vintages.

2010 was kind of a disaster vintage for much of California, characterized by a cool summer and then some seriously damaging heat spikes at the very end.  But the Paso Robles region was able to avoid those heat spikes and the grapes were harvested after a long but consistent summer.  I had the pleasure of trying the Tablas Creek Syrah in a previous vintage (which I believe to be 2006) and at the time I was struck by the wine’s elegance and structure, in frankly what I’d been referring to as the land of jammy wines.

Tablas Creek for wine nerds like myself is pretty much hallowed ground.  It’s THE winery that I make sure to visit every time I go to Paso.  It consistently produces wines that have the structure and acidic backbone that many other wineries there lack.  As fads come and go I think Tablas Creek will always be there because they’re just so damn consistent. This Syrah is a beautiful and elegant representation of how even in warmer climates, when it is handled in the right way, Syrah can still produce a pretty spectacular wine.

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