1. Vermentino di Gallura: This area is on the windswept northern end of Sardinia. Rather rugged country from the pics I've seen. I've generrally liked the Vermentinos from here. Vermentino usually has a strong mineral/chalky streak and a pretty/low-key floral fragrance. This Mancini, imported by Oliver McCrum, is probably the best one I've yet had from there. Vermentino, sorta like Lemberger, is not a catchy name from the marketing standpoint. The variety is known in the Rhone as Rolle, hence the TablasCreek interest, but the Feds do not recognize (yet) Rolle
as a varietal name. So TCV must use the Italian name. Their rendition of Vermentino is one of the
best I've had. It shows the richness & lushness you'd expect from a Calif-grown wine, but still shows underneath that chalky/mineral character that you don't often find in Calif whites.
2. TablasCreek: This is a wnry I've followed from the very start (doh!!!), back when they were making wine under a different label from purchased grapes. I was very excited when I found out the Perrins and RobertHaas had purchased land in Paso. They were sure to set the Calif Rhone movement on fire w/their entry. It didn't happen. They imported many of the varieties from Beaucastel used in CdP, it took them a few yrs to get thru USDA quarantine at Geneva. Many of the varieties were already in Calif, but most were of unknown provenance, many were suitcase clones. Once the vines cleared quarantine,
TCV seemed to focus on the nursery operation and was slow to get the wnry side of things off the
ground. They made their first wines under another name (which I forget) using purchased grapes. I was pretty underwhelmed by them. When they finally came out w/ the TCV label, I was excited...finally world class CdP from Calif. I tasted my first one w/ BobSenn at LOW&SE. Disappointed again. It was rather restrained, not a lot going on, and not the bold/lush/ripe character I had learned to expect from Paso Rhones. Bob gave me that all-knowing look and suggested I not throw TCV under the bus based on that first wine. He was, as usual, right. About 3 yrs later at dinner in Casmalia/HP w/ Bob; he pulled out that first TCV red. I sorta rolled (or is it vermentinoed??) my eyes and thought "Is this the best you can do, Bob, for such a special guest??" Surprise/surprise....they wine had developed a really lovely perfume and fragrance, elegant & balanced, a lovely wine that was a bit overwhelmed by my HitchingPost steak. Once again...BobSenn was right.
So I started following the TCV wines a little more closely. Almost invariably, they were not big/
bold/dramatic statements out of the gate. But they showed a balance/restraint/elegance that I typically find in the Qupe wines; an acidity that ensures they age w/ grace & style. That the wines are liked by certain Monktown attourneys is a puzzle to me.
Finally, after JasonHaas was in town a month ago and did a winemaker dinner for the SFW&CF and I was, once again, mightly impressed by the wines (the TCV Quintessence/Roussanne is probably the greatest Calif passito I've had); I broke down and signed up for their wine club. As if I needed another wine club to belong to...like a hole in my head. After this tasting, my group put in an order for 2.5 cs of these wines. Will do the Rouges in two weeks.
Anyway, TCV is making some of the best Calif Rhones around. They haven't made the big splash in the Calif Rhone movement I was expecting them to many yrs ago; but their influence is not to be denied when you note the amount of TablasCreek clones planted in vnyds throughout the State. Sometimes it's not the biggest/brashest/highest-scoring wnry that deserves the attention.
In the FWIW category, the TCV WebSite (www.TablasCreek.com) is one of the best wine WebSites around. Furthermore, JasonHaas does a blog periodically that is very well-written and packed with info. I usually check it out at least once a month. And they recently planted their first vines of Clairette and Terret Noir, two pretty minor varieties in the Rhone. Who knows...they might not be so minor in Calif!! I noticed that the '08 EdBB was packaged in one of the massive/ oversize/overweight btls that producers reserve for their high-end/pricey wines. But the '09 EdBB was packaged in the standard/lighter btl. Presumably to reduce their carbon footprint. Yeah for that change I say.
3. Roussanne: Bergeron is the local name in the Savoie for Roussanne. This region, tucked up in the eastern France foothills of the Alps, is the birthplace, for some reason, of many of the world's great vinifera varieties, including Syrah (Deurza and MondeuseBlanche cross). TCV makes this Roussanne they call Bergeron in a different style from their regular Roussanne...from the coldest Roussanne block, harvested early, fermented in old oak. Don't know if TCV is experimenting w/ concrete fermentors (some of which are made right there in Paso), but I would be very interested in seeing what that would bring to their Bergeron. I've had maybe 12-16 Bergerons over the yrs (try almost every Savoie & Jura wine I come across). I can see the resemblance to Savoie Bergeron stylistically, but it's a distinctly Calif rendition of Bergeron. Sometimes attempting this style of white wine in Calif can lead to a lean/eviscerated/pinched/green kind of wine. This Bergeron was definitely not that. Just a lovely (I'd say food-friendly...but I detest that term) white wine.