Tablas Creek Vineyard Esprit de Beaucastel 2005

Chateau de Beaucastel stands quite tall amongst the lexicon of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Owned by the Perrin family, it's never far from a list of the top 5 estates in the region. The family have taken their knowhow to California and purchased an estate (in partnership) in Paso Robles. I've been curious about the Perrin's Californian venture for sometime. The curiosity consumed me like an incendiary flame (is a non-incendiary flame even possible? Discuss). Had I been a cat, it would have been death. So I decided to open a bottle.

44% Mourvèdre, 26% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 5% Counoise

Quite bright ruby with touches of pink as it fades on the edges.

Restrained on the nose to start with, giving only dark berries and roots. Touch of chemically liquorice and boot polish as well. There's sweet berry-ness that comes out later, as well as a meatiness; kind of like cherry-glazed ham. the chemical gibberish thankfully fades to a more natural anise.

The sweet berry-ness starts things off - bright and juicy but still dark. Like shady strawberries and mysterious raspberries - red fruit, but dark red fruit. In their wake comes underbrush-like tannin and a firm, mineral core. There's cinnamon and anise with a dry, not-quite-rasping bark quality. The texture is growing on me. That journey from juice to rounded, hedgerow-y rustic tannin is a good one. I think it's a little pricey, but the earthiness and rusticity are a welcome departure from some of the more polished wines kicking about with a similar assemblage.

At the same price it's fighting Bonny Doon's La Cigare Volant, perhaps a touch more elegant than the Esprit, though both have their time, place and mood.


Tasted 20/10/2010 at Luvians Bottleshop