One of the standouts in the single variety blends was the 2013 Syrah which saw 19 months in 2-year-old foudre. It's a beautiful and classic Syrah that has an inky purple color, lots of black fruits, peppery herbs and smoked earth aromas and flavors plus medium to full-bodied richness on the palate. Showing the standard freshness and purity of the estate, it will impress for upward of a decade. I had a terrific visit with Jason Haas and Neil Collins at Tablas Creek, and while I think their 2012s are a step back, the 2013s are superb, and the 2014s look even better. In addition, I was able to do a full 2005 retrospective, but will publish that as a stand-alone report at a later date. (JD)
Bright violet color. A wild, highly perfumed bouquet evokes dark berries, cola, olive paste and floral oils, with a subtle mineral nuance in the background. Smoky and seamless on the palate, offering juicy black raspberry and cassis flavors that open quickly with aeration. Finishes smooth, sweet and long, with a recurring floral note, gentle tannins and building spiciness. I tasted through this year's new and upcoming releases with long-time winemaker and vineyard manager Neil Collins and assistant winemaker Chelsea Franchi, who has been at Tablas Creek since graduating from Cal Poly in 2008. Franchi has become more deeply involved in the winemaking here in recent years, a time when, as Collins said, "the vines are really coming into maturity and showing what the vineyards can deliver." There's a serious dedication to bush vine-planting (en gobelet) and dry farming at the estate, a process that requires considerable extra labor and raises the risk of decreased yields, but which most winemakers, including Collins, Franchi and the Haas and Perrin families, are convinced allows for maximum site expression and wine concentration. The Tablas Creek wines have an admirable track record for rewarding cellaring, all the way down to the entry-level bottlings, so readers are well-advised to stash a few bottles away, assuming they have patience and storage space. (JR)
*One Star* Very keenly focused blackberry aromas add suggestions of dried currants for extra breadth and back everything up with notions of dark soils and briary spice. Its flavors come with the same blend of ripe fruit and early complexity supported by a veneer of tannic solidity that, together with the confident fruit at its heart, insures that the wine will age well over the next four to six years or so, and may last longer yet.
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