Offer available until Monday, 1/16/2023, at 3 pm or as inventory lasts.
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Hi everyone –
It’s Friday the 13th. You know what that means? It’s time for ATTACK OF THE JASONS. Specifically, Jason Haas of Tablas Creek, Jason Lett of Eyrie Vineyards, presented by me of course, Jason Kallsen.
These are two of my favorite wineries for all the reasons we want to celebrate: history, family ownership, organic farming, taking a chance, taking a stance, and being a voice for what they believe in. Maybe INTEGRITY is the word I’m looking for. Or HONESTY. No matter how you term it, these are for sure two of the best and we have some gems to offer you here.
Tablas Creek is a bit more under the radar for many, but is a winery every wine lover should get to know better. Located in far western Paso Robles (where “beware of ice” signs line the winding roads in the winter), it was founded by a partnership between the Haas family and the Perrin Family of Chateau Beaucastel fame. No winery has been more important in the development of Rhône varietals in California than Tablas Creek. Like Eyrie, they are leaders in organic farming, proper viticulture, wines of place and detail, and overall stunning quality. They are also the first winery to have the Regenerative Organic Certification which is kind of a big deal. Jason Haas maintains one of the most read blogs in the wine industry, where he doesn’t shy away from opinions. Be sure to check it out.
The story of Eyrie Vineyards is well known to many of you due to our annual Eyrie Day Celebration every year on February 22nd, the anniversary of the first plantings of Pinot Noir in Willamette Valley. Jason Lett, along with his mother Diana, run the show and the wines are better than ever. While best known for their Pinot Noir (which we have two vintages on offer here), they also make tiny quantities of Pinot Meunier and Trousseau. It’s very rare to have these available and it’s our pleasure to offer them.
Here we go!
Three gems from Jason Haas of Tablas Creek
If you’re not familiar with Tablas Creek, here are four quick bullet points for you:
- They redefined the role of Rhône varieties in California by bringing their expertise from Chateauneuf-du-Pape directly to the west coast (including clonal selections and vineyard cuttings).
- They are one of the most eco-conscious wineries in the entire country.
- They are located in the western (cooler) half of Paso Robles, with vines planted on limestone soils.
- Their wines are balanced, complete, and detailed. They are not big sappy typical-of-Paso styled wines.
Tablas Creek “Patelin de Tablas” Rosé 2021
This is one of more serious Rosé wines of California, and as a result it’s drinking better now than it did last summer. The aromas and flavors have had time to come together in a magical way.
79% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, and 6% Counoise, with 13% alcohol and all the fancy snap and verve you want in a great rosé.
But Jason, it’s wintertime, why should I drink rosé right now? When is the last time you had a Sauvignon Blanc? Yesterday? Maybe the day before? Within the last week at the least, right? Yet nobody gets bent out of shape about the seasonality of Sauvignon Blanc. It’s time to release the seasonality issue from Rosé and appreciate it for what it is: simply awesome wine with great food pairing ability ALL YEAR LONG!
Enjoy with roasted chicken and peppers.
Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rouge 2021
Patelin de Tablas is the “go to” level for Tablas Creek, offering amazing quality at a lower price point than their other wines. 43% Syrah, 28% Grenache, 23% Mourvedre, and 6% Counoise. This wine is stunning and youthful, and can easily be enjoyed anytime in the next five years. It shows all the style that Tablas is known for: elegant red and black fruits, mellow peppery aromas, and a long complex finish. What I like the most about this wine is the sum seems to be greater than the parts. One pass and it’s Syrah-driven. Then I come back to it, and the Grenache kicks in. Oh that blackstrap fruit of the Mourvedre! And around and around it goes.
Ideal for your winter pot roast.
Tablas Creek “Esprit de Tablas” 2019
The Esprit de Tablas line is the flagship line of Tablas Creek, carefully assembled as a vineyard and barrel selection to emulate the great Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Like that wine, this is heavy on Mourvedre (39%), with the balance Grenache (30%), Syrah (21%), and Counoise (10%). To the credit of the vineyard managers and winemaking team, it clocks in at 14% ABV, lower than most Chateauneuf!
This is one of the most overlooked wines in America. It’s stunning in complexity and could always use some time in the bottle (even though I think it’s great right now with about two hours of decanting).
From Jason Haas:
An intense Mourvèdre nose of spiced plum, sarsaparilla, loamy earth, and new leather. The palate is mouth-coating with flavors of black cherry, teriyaki marinade, baker’s chocolate and iron. The long, richly tannic finish promises more rewards to come with cellar aging, and leaves lingering flavors of plum skin and roasted meats. We recommend that you drink either between now and 2024 or again starting in 2027 any time over the subsequent two decades.https://tablascreek.com/wines/2019_esprit_de_tablas
Five truly amazing wines from Eyrie Vineyards
It’s always a treat to pop a cork on a bottle of Eyrie Vineyards. It’s history in a bottle, always detailed, always elegant, always simply BEAUTIFUL. Let’s get to these wines and some opinions!
Eyrie produces all of their wines from the 16 acre estate property, which steps up the side of the Dundee Hills outside Newberg, Oregon. All vineyards are farmed organically and certified salmon-safe, and the wines are made in the historic former chicken coop in McMinnville that has been the (cramped) home of Eyrie since the days of Jason’s father, founder David Lett.
Eyrie Chardonnay Estate 2020
I’m not going to hold back here. THIS MAY CURRENTLY BE THE BEST CHARDONNAY MADE IN AMERICA. Those are some big words, and of course everyone has their own interpretation of what a Chardonnay should be like. But here’s my litmus test: a truly great Chardonnay has to balance richness with leanness, playing ripe apple to mineral and lime aromas and flavors. It’s an almost unattainable balancing act, and one that I’ve only experienced a few times in my life.
And almost always that balance is only from Burgundy: Ettienne Sauzet, the best of Joseph Drouhin, the rarities of Ponsot, and select top level whites usually grown in Puligy-Montrachet or Meursault.
The Eyrie Chardonnay is the Grand Cru Chardonnay of America. Simple as that. You want the best? Here it is.
The Eyrie Vineyards Trousseau 2019
This is what we call a ‘Sasquatch wine’ for many people have heard of it but few have ever seen it. Rumors are out there that there’s a grainy 8mm film of a bottle running through the woods.
Trousseau is the great grape of Jura, France, and it’s also made its way to Spain and Portugal, where it’s known as Bastardo. It’s a grape that makes a big statement in a wine: loads of plum and forest floor aromas along with a warming mouthfeel and super long finish. This is a fantastic example of what Trousseau is capable of.
We enjoyed a bottle of this with Thanksgiving dinner a few months ago. Our stuffing was wild rice with parsnips, carrots, and mushrooms. The umami-rich flavors of the dressing played perfectly with the Trousseau.
This is also one of those great wines to pull out when you have wine friends over, especially anyone in the industry or a sommelier. It’s a wine geek’s wine all the way through.
The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Meunier 2018
Like the Trousseau, here’s another Sasquatch wine! There is a tiny (and I do mean TINY) amount of Pinot Meunier planted at The Eyrie Vineyards, and on select vintages Jason Lett separates out a wee bit to be bottled on its own. Also like the Trousseau, the label is a bit different (without the iconic hawk and tree) so sometimes it actually goes overlooked in shops. People don’t even realize what’s in front of them!
Meunier is super cool, making an ethereal wine with pronounced strawberry and floral aromas, along with fine acidity that plays beautifully with foods. Want a perfect red wine pairing with seafood? Here you go!
Only 356 cases produced. 93 points James Suckling:
Aromas of wild raspberries and fresh strawberries with touches of dried roses and leaves. Medium-bodied with fine, silky tannins. Some savory character to the fresh fruit. Soft yet textured on the palate with bright acidity and a racy finish. Drink now.
AN INCREDIBLE OFFERING OF A HISTORIC WINE
The Eyrie Vineyards “The Eyrie” Pinot Noir 2017 and 2018
Note: there is under one case available on each wine.
The final two wines on this offer are as special as wine comes. These are rarely available, and to have two vintages around at the same time is unheard of (this happened because of the residual effects of the pandemic and restaurants not buying as many high end wines as they used to).
But first, a little explanation and clarity. The Eyrie Vineyards (plural) is the name of the winery. The winery owns and controls a series of single vineyards stepping up the hills of Dundee: Sisters, The Eyrie, Outcrop, Roland Green, and Daphne.
The Estate Pinot Noir bottling (not this one) is a blend of the estate vineyards which step up the Dundee Hills (and it’s awesome and sold out at the moment).
At the winery, they also have the single-vineyard designations available for sale. You can learn about all the different vineyards at The Eyrie Vineyards website.
Halfway up that hill is The Eyrie Vineyard (singular) and the source for this wine.
That vineyard is the sacred ground, the spot where David and Diana Lett planted the very first Pinot Noir vines in the whole Willamette Valley. And that is what’s in this bottle.
Think about this: if you knew who planted the first Pinot Noir in Burgundy, that would be pretty damn cool, right? And what if you could go to that single spot and see the actual first vines? And what if you could buy a bottle from that vineyard?
But that’s what you can do here. And it’s soon to be a passenger pigeon. The Eyrie Vineyard was planted on its own rootstock, for phylloxera was nowhere in Oregon in the 1960s and assumed to be too cold in the winter for the bug to survive. Alas, phylloxera did indeed arrive and has slowly been consuming the vines. The original vines are being slowly replaced with new vines on healthy rootstock. (Some of you may remember this wine used to say “Original Vines” on the label, but with the vines being replaced Jason Lett dropped that designation.)
2017 was a vintage of extremes in a good way: cool and wet at the outset, incredibly hot in the middle, and a return of cool at the end. The result was a vintage of incredibly fine acidity (which I seek out as much as I can) and age-worthiness. It reminds me of the magical 2008s.
Conversely, the 2018 vintage was, by all accounts, one of the more perfect vintages ever in the valley. The key aspect was a return to a cool harvest rather than a blast furnace at the last second of the season. It’s a vintage that made a lot of old-timers in the valley say “ah! Back to the way it USED to be!”
Both are great, and in a wine of the quality of The Eyrie, either or both will make you very happy indeed. These are wines to build a special occasion around.
Here are the technical sheets on both of the wines, with data on the weather and review of the vintages:
We wanted the first offer of 2023 to be something special. Both of these wineries represent more than just the juice in the glass. They go WAY beyond that. It’s about the stories of families and place. It’s about having the guts to do something when everyone says you’re crazy. And it’s about cherishing the fact that we can tap into that energy.
So the buying advice? Buy them all. Sorry, but that’s all that I can think of.
But if you don’t want to buy them all, and if there’s two wines to pick from, it would be the Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas, and The Eyrie Vineyards “The Eyrie” (either vintage, both are great).
Sommelier and founder/owner of Twin Cities Wine Education
This offer has closed. Thank you for your interest.