Sunday, January 11, 2009


Those sneaky (not snaky!) Frenchmen, they're buying vineyards everywhere...California, Argentina, Chile, even Canada (Osoyoos-Larose in the Okanagan). Chateau Beaucastel is an icon in Chateauneuf du Pape, and the owners are partners in a project in the Paso Robles appelation of California called Tablas Creek. They chose the hilly vineyard for its similarities to Ch√Ęteauneuf du Pape: limestone soils, a favorable climate, and rugged terrain. The partners imported the traditional varietals grown on their C-du-P property, including Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah and Counoise. Their red Esprit du Beaucastel 2005 costs about the same as an entry level C-du-P meaning it isn't cheap, but it's less than half the price of the parent at $42. So, how does it fare? It smells new world - Jammy plums but some minerality. It tastes old world - medium bodied and flavourful without being rich. Lively cherry-raisin-fig flavours with a smoky, pastrami-like finish. Very smooth and ready to go. Good wine, but not worth the relatively high cost.
At half the price, the Argentine Trapiche, Medalla, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 comes in as an oak "monster" - it is aged in 100% new oak and this overpowers everything else. It's hard to discern any fruit. It was much better at 24 hours with some chalky minerals coming out on the nose and the oakiness becoming a little muted (although it remains quite chewy). Good wine, but not for everyone. $20.


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