When it comes to wines inspired by France’s Rhône Valley, California’s Tablas Creek Vineyard sets a benchmark. Which is not surprising when you consider that the vineyard in the Paso Robles region is a partnership between the Perrin family, owners of the famed Château de Beaucastel in the southern Rhône, and the family of the late Robert Haas, founder of leading importer Vineyard Brands.
With the establishment of Tablas Creek in 1989, they helped develop Paso Robles as a premier region for Rhône varieties and continue to produce outstanding wines.
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Among Tablas Creek’s new releases, the 2021 Côtes de Tablas Blanc is a standout. The $35 wine is a quintessential Rhône-style blend: 44 percent Viognier, 32 percent Grenache Blanc, 14 percent Marsanne, and 10 percent Roussanne. The estate-grown grapes are farmed biodynamically and fermented with native yeasts. The wine is aged in stainless steel and weighs in at a modest 12.5 percent ABV.
This is not a wine that’s aimed at making a statement, but it does so nonetheless in its elegant restraint — the opposite of the powerful, high-alcohol wines many have come to expect from California, whether white or red.
Subtlety is the name of the game here. If you don’t drink it too cold, which will obscure the tastes, you’ll find delicious fruit notes including green apple, white peach, and a hint of pineapple. Accents of vanilla bean and cinnamon along with a slightly creamy finish and crisp acidity round out the picture.
Enjoy this one with all kinds of lighter fish like flounder and sole, and shellfish dishes, including broiled scallops and sautéed shrimp tossed with linguine.
Also worth trying: Tablas Creek’s notable red wines, including the excellent 2020 Mourvèdre.