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 Capri Ristorante – McLean, VA

Tablas Creek Vineyards


This blind presentation’s objective is to compare red blends from the Central Coast in the USA against a Chateauneuf Du Pape, the reference wine, of similar price and quality. We will be tasting also a Rhone Blend white.

The Central Coast is a large encompassing American Viticultural Area (AVA) that extends from the south of San Francisco all the way to Santa Barbara, California. The region contains 40 AVAs including Paso Robles, Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey, and Santa Barbara and each of these sub-regions specializes in different types and expressions of wine.

During the last 20 years, a group of producers in the California Central Coast have been traveling the Châteauneuf road. There are now many California red wines blended in the style of the southern Rhone. There has been a growing interest in Grenache, Mourvèdre and other grapes of the southern Rhone.  The Central Coast — especially Santa Barbara, Monterey and, increasingly, Paso Robles and Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo County — are proving to be prime sources for Rhone-style wines. From Carneros to Santa Barbara, California winemakers have consistently proven that the state excels with Rhône varieties. It makes perfect sense that grapes like Syrah and Viognier thrive here, as the climate is like that of the Rhône, with warm, dry summers and cooling winds.

The two hottest trending wines in California in recent years have been white Roussanne and red Grenache.  Roussanne, relatively new to California, has a savory yet fruit-driven character, Grenache is more exuberant, with plenty of fruit and acidity, very good in blends. Grenache and Roussanne are just two of the many Rhône varietals that thrive in Santa Barbara County, with great Syrah also coming from Ballard Canyon.  Fragrant and savory, more producers are discovering how to coax complexity from Syrah, the ultimate Rhône grape, and craft beautifully balanced wines.

An inspiration for many of these producers has been Château de Beaucastel, one of the greatest producers of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, particularly for Tablas Creek, a partnership between an American importer, and the owners of the Chateau. Its vineyard was planted on land in the western part of Paso Robles chosen for its resemblance to Châteauneuf

TYPE : Blind to rank the wines and then open to compare the Central Coast reds with the reference wine.

  1. 2015 Bonny Doon, Le Cigare Blanc, White Rhone Style Blend, Arroyo Seco Monterrey
  2. 2016 Les Halos de Jupiter, Chauteneauf du Pape
  3. 2013 Bonny Doon,Le Cigare Volant, Red Rhone Style Blend, Central Coast
  4. 2015 Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas Rouge, Paso Robles


  1. Prince Edward Mussels, sauteed in saffron sauce with toasted bread
  2. Portobello al forno.  Baked Portobello with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella served with grilled zucchini
  3. Ravioli Di Vitelo. Homemade Ravioli filled with veal and mozzarella in aurora sauce.
  4. Grilled steak in red wine sauce with vegetables and sauteed potatoes.
  5. Dessert and/or coffee

PRESENTERS: Orlando Mason, Alfonso Sanchez

PARTICIPANTS: Mario Aguilar, Juan Luis Colaiacovo, Jorge García, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Orlando Reos, Alfonso Sanchez, Peter Scherer


(All information obtained and condensed from several Internet articles.)

2015 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc, Arroyo Seco, Monterrey

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Since 2003, Bonny Doon has produced this blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussanne derived from a single vineyard source, the Beeswax Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County. Farmed organically, surrounded by wilderness, and shielded from the cool Pacific Coast winds by the Santa Lucia Mountains, Beeswax Vineyard grows complex, concentrated and mineral intensive grapes from deeply rooted vines.Blend: 55% Grenache Blanc, 36% Roussanne, 9% Picpoul

WS: Offers a smooth, spicy mix of toasted coconut, Meyer lemon, peach cobbler and mango flavors on an appealing, fleshy frame, with a juicy punctuation point.

The Winery: Read More about the winery here: https://www.bonnydoonvineyard.com/about/history/

2016 Halos de Jupiter Chateauneuf du Pape 

The Wine: Enticing whiffs of game, leather and dried herbs lend savory complexity to plush mulberry, plum and dried-strawberry flavors in this opulent, full-figured red. It’s a rounded, voluminous wine with a slightly warming finish and ripe but grippy tannins. It needs a few years to integrate but should drink well from 2020–2030. Very old Grenache (over 100 years old) located between Orange and Courthezon. The blend is 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah & 5% Mourvèdre. Although this wine could be enjoyed young, it will only develop its full character much later. It will keep its freshness for at least 20 years after bottling.

The grapes are harvested at advanced maturity. This initial sorting at the plot is followed by a second at the winery to keep only the finest grapes. Vinification: The grapes are scraped but not crushed. Extraction very soft, just by manual punching and fermentation of about 5 weeks at a temperature regulated at 28 ° C. Grenache and Mourvèdre are assembled after malolactic fermentation and then aged in cement tanks for one year. To preserve its personality and intensity, this wine has not been filtered or glued.

The Winery: The Halos de Jupiter are a collaboration between the southern Rhône’s renowned oenologist Philippe Cambie, and the talented winemaker Michel Gassier. But above all it’s a story of friendship and shared passions: rugby, gastronomy, and Rhone wines, particularly those from Grenache. For Michel and Philippe, Grenache is the king of varietals of the southern Rhône. Together, they selected the appellations that offer Grenache the potential to reveal the unique and intrinsic qualities of each: Châteauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Côtes du Rhône and Costières de Nîmes. Dedicated to the highest quality, these wines from some of the Valley’s best winegrowers, express their respect for the land and Michel and Philippe’s search for a hedonistic balance.

Read more here: https://www.halosdejupiter.com/en/wine/chateauneuf-du-pape/

2013 Bonny Doon, Le Cigare Volant, Red Rhone Style Blend, Central Coast

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: The 30th Anniversary release of this, their flagship wine. A beautiful wine—dark and mulberry in color as in nose. One scents cool loamy earth with suggestions of raspberries and Damson plums. This largely Grenache vintage of Cigare has an unmistakable spiciness to it—orange peel, cinnamon and black pepper. Grenache is not just about fragrance however; any synesthete worth his/her Maldon salt will know that the scent of Grenache is in part highly textural—soft and velveteen. And sure enough, on the palate the wine is also an essence of velours.

Grenache adds rich black fruit flavors and a discreet spiciness. Syrah is principally sourced from Bien Nacido vineyard in Santa Maria Valley, which produces the closest analogue we have found to a Northern Rhône Syrah—tannic and meaty in the lower registers; peppery, fruitful and delicately floral in the top, all the while showing great balance and harmony. A select group of non-irrigated, centenarian Contra Costa vineyards continues to provide Mourvèdre for Cigare. A touch of Cinsaut provides a very particular fragrance of flowers and aromatic herbs.

Blend: 55% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 16% Mourvedre, and 4% Cinsaut.

WE: The blend….offers subtle mulberry fruit on the nose, a spicy peppercorn kick and plenty of gamy meats. That funky meat quality, from raw to jerkied, is prominent and pure on the sip, surrounded by exotic plums and Middle Eastern spices.

The Winery: Read more about here:

2015 Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas Rouge, Paso Robles 

The Wine: Winemaker Notes. The 2015 Esprit de Tablas has an inviting nose of warm berry compote, given complexity by sun-drenched bay leaf and newly turned earth: Mourvedre at its most appealing. The mouth is lush and dense, with big but refined tannins, and flavors of licorice, blackberry, and cedar. Mourvedre’s characteristic meatiness is in the background at this point, but just waiting for a few years in bottle to emerge. Alternatingly bright and deep on the finish, with lingering flavors of wood smoke, plum skin and spice.Blend: 49% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache, 21% Syrah, 5% Counoise

WS: Precise and well-structured, yet savory and expressive, with loamy mineral, dried cherry, smoky anise and black pepper flavors that build complexity toward broad-shouldered tannins. Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah and Counoise. Drink now through 2026.

The Winery: Tablas Creek is a pioneer of California’s Rhone movement. Founded in 1989, it is the culmination of a friendship between two of the international wine community’s leading families dating back to 1967: the Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel and the Haas family of Vineyard Brands. After a four-year search, the partners chose Paso Robles, California for its many similarities to the Southern Rhone and began the lengthy process of importing vine cuttings, building a grapevine nursery, and creating an estate vineyard from the ground up. Today, the vineyards at Tablas Creek are proudly Biodynamic® and organic certified by Demeter USA. Since 2010 we have incorporated many Biodynamic techniques across the vineyard, including our own mobile herd of sheep, alpacas and two guard donkeys, Fiona and Dottie.

Tablas Creek’s limestone-rich 120-acre organic estate vineyard is located in the heart of the Adelaida District, in the hills north and west of Paso Robles, about 11 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Our viticulture practices emphasize quality through dry-farming and moderate crop levels. We farm organically, have been certified organic since 2003.

Read more here: https://tablascreek.com/


  • Wine 1 – CV Rating:  TBA –  Experts Rating: TBA Pts. – Price: $TBA
  • Wine 2 – CV Rating:  TBA –  Experts Rating: TBA Pts. – Price: $TBA
  • Wine 3 – CV Rating:  TBA –  Experts Rating: TBA Pts. – Price: $TBA
  • Wine 4 – CV Rating:  TBA –  Experts Rating: TBA Pts. – Price: $TBA

View full evaluation here: Summary of Tasting Scores 67

Best Rated: 2016 Les Halos de Jupiter, Chauteneauf du Pape

Best Buy: 2016 Les Halos de Jupiter, Chauteneauf du Pape


(From Wine .com) With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.

In the Glass: The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.

Perfect Pairings: Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.

Sommelier Secret: Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.