Tablas Creek 2006 Cotes de Tablas


Courtesy Tablas Creek Vineyards

Type: Dry Red
Made: In Paso Robles, California with grenache, syrah, mourvedre, counoise grapes
Plays well with: Slightly spicy beef dishes, anything laced with garlic.

With Tablas Creek Vineyard GM Jason Haas one of the honchos behind the Rhone Rangers and Hospice du Rhone, you think maybe he and his family are into Rhone-style wines?  Like the winery’s portfolio is based on these food friendly wines of the Rhone valley of southern France.  The Cotes de Tablas is a typical Rhone-style blend of syrah, mourvedre and counoise built on a foundation grenache. The nose is full of dark bramble fruit – think blackberry – with a hint of cedar. Taste it, and the nose comes through with the same flavors and a nice medium-weight mouthfeel.

The wine also felt a tidge warm in the mouth – like a lot of “hot” or high-alcohol wines, which was kind of odd because it wasn’t particularly heavy on that end at 14.8 percent, and the wine was otherwise balanced.  So it may have been a fluke and the wine was very tasty in spite of the warmth.

This is a good food wine and can stand up to some spiciness, maybe a Steak au Poivre (which is the steak with the black pepper) or Pepper steak (which is the steak with bell peppers).  The wine might even be a candidate for the Ultimate Garlic Experience – take a garlic-stuffed olive, eat it and knock back the wine over it.  Wow!

You can get the Cote de Tablas through the winery at

Three Sticks 2006 Pinot Noir

PinotCutOutThe whole point of the Three Sticks Durell Vineyards Pinot Noir is to remind you of the great Burgundies (as in the Burgundy region of France).  Keep in mind, French wines, in general, and certainly Burgundies, are meant to go with food.  So the fruit flavors are more subtle, the acids tend to be higher and the alcohols percentages tend to be lower.

Which, of course, runs totally counter to the American and, increasingly, the Australian styles in pinots.  We decidedly prefer pinots that are in the food friendly Burgundian style, which is one of the things we liked best about the Three Sticks pinot.

The nose of cedar and dusty dry fruit promises a lighter touch in the mouth. There is a nice acid to fruit balance at the core of this lovely, delicate wine, so look for food that isn’t too heavy, isn’t too light.  You can try lightly seasoned meats, maybe some grilled pork chops or a simple steak.  And while red wine is usually considered too strong for fish, if you get a nice bit of herbed up salmon or a Salade Nicoise, that could be very tasty.  Or any combination of duck and mushrooms. Being so versatile, a wine made this well can find a soulmate in unexpected places. Even a BLT on french baugette while watching the World Series wouldn’t be out of place.

Halter Ranch 2006 GSM

hrgsmGSM is shorthand – 1980s Australian shorthand –  for a classic Rhone blend of three grapes – Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. The basic formula will vary from year to year as one grape stands out over the others. The 2006 contains 45 percent grenache, 33 percent syrah and 22 percent mourvedre. The nose is full of cedar, cherries and berry fruit. The fruits are dry in the mouth with no residual sweetness but lots of flavor and acids that show off the brightness of the grenache and yet allows the spiciness of the syrah to display itself on the back of the palate.
The syrah is the part that would make this a great wine for a steak au poivre – steak with a pepper sauce. As great as this wine is right now, it can lift the gloom of a winter’s night alongside a stew or a standing rib roast.  Try it instead of a cabernet sauvignon. The Halter Ranch GSM should age nicely over the next several years if you can’t decide on the perfect occasion.