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2009 JC Cellars “The First Date” Roussanne Marsanne

The 2009 JC Cellars “The First Date” is a gorgeous wine. A blend of Roussanne and Marsanne, it has not just the sensual flavors and aromas of California Rhone whites, but also structure they rarely offer. This is likely due, in part, to an aspect of the aging regime.

In past years, the wine fermented wines were aged in a combination of new and neutral oak. For this vintage, 30% of the wine — all of it Roussanne — was aged in an unlined concrete egg. With this wine and one other from JC Cellars that was “egged,” my impression is that the fruit is less exuberant, allowing for more perceived minerality and structure. The First Date has always been a seriously pretty wine. Now it’s also pretty serious.

JC Cellars’ 2009 “The First Date” is lemon-colored with a pale rim. The nose romances you with honeysuckle, delicately sweet, gingery baking spice and peach. The palate is full-bodied with a slightly oily feeling that gives way to fine-grained texture that persists through the very long finish. There are flavors of stone fruit (peach and apricot), lemon chiffon, spice, toast and honey. Minerality is very present too and it becomes dominant at the end, setting up your palate for a bite of food or another sip. The First Date evolves very nicely as it warms and breathes in your glass. Don't miss that. Drink now through 2014. Very Highly Recommended.

2009 JC Cellars "The First Date"
wines-09_First_Date-0.0.250Rating: Very Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2014
Closure: Cork
Production: 220 cases
Retail Price: $28.00

Winemaker: Jeff Cohn
Blend: 75% Roussanne, 25% Marsanne

Origin: Santa Barbara County
Aging: 18 months in a combination of unlined concrete egg and French oak (new and used)
Alcohol: 15.3%

Service Recommendations
Decanting: Not required
Temperature: 52º - 58º F
Food Pairings: Poultry, butter poached lobster or, if you’re feeling ambitious, the Rabbit and Bacon Pressé with Slow-Poached Blenheim Apricots, Rabbit Liver Mousse and Green Pistahcios from Thomas Keller’s Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide.

The wine above was provided by the winery for review.

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2008 Tablas Creek Roussanne and Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, Paso Robles

The 2008 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, Paso Robles is a lush, full-bodied wine, golden-hued and aromatically rich. Baking spice, pear, tropical fruit, white flowers and mineral waft gently from the glass. Flavors are much the same with pear, tropical fruit and spice being most dominant. Grenache Blanc makes of 30% of the blend and provides acidity to balance the Roussanne’s plush texture. This wine would go very well with steamed crab or lobster. It’s also rich enough to hold it’s own with salmon, poached or grilled. Drink now through 2018. Very highly recommended.

2008 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, Paso Robles
Rating: Very Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2018
Retail Price: $50 (not yet released)
Blend: 65% Roussanne, 30% Grenache Blanc, 5% Picpoul Blanc
Fermentation: Stainless steel and neutral oak, 100% malolactic fermentation
Alcohol: 13.5%
Production: 1,800 cases
Closure: Cork

2007-Esprit-Blanc

Note: I realize that this picture is of the previous year's vintage, but I figure it's better than nothing.

You might also like to try, as I did, the 2008 Tablas Creek Roussanne, Paso Robles ($29). It’s a very good wine itself and is interesting to compare side-by-side with the Esprit de Beaucastel. Doing so can highlight the contributions of Grenache Blanc and Picpoul Blanc to the blended wine. The Roussanne is still complex but even more focused on the ripe pear and tropical fruit. Missing is some of the more tart fruit, acidity and a bit of the minerality. I found a spicy orange rind on the nose and palate of the Roussanne that I didn’t find in the blend though. Pair with chicken koorma on basmati rice with aromatic Indian spices. Drink now through 2016. Highly recommended.

2008 Tablas Creek Roussanne, Paso Robles
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2016
Retail Price: $29 (only available at the winery or via their web store)
Blend: 100% Roussanne
Aging: Aged on lees for 6 months: half in stainless, half in French oak
Alcohol: 14.2%
Production: 500 cases
Closure: Cork


Both wines were tasted at Solano Cellars. We paid for the tasting.

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.