Great Wines I Can Afford

Faux Chateau Redux

The Chateauneuf-du-Pape wannabes are increasingly abundant.

By Robb Walsh May 24, 2013

Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles is owned in part by the Perrin Family, the owners of Beaucastel winery in France's Rhone region. I wrote about Beaucastel the other day in the Faux Chateauneuf post.  I mentioned that Houston Wine Merchant could order Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the very tasty, but much cheaper, wannabes for you.

Antonio Gianola

My friend Antonio Gianola, one of Houston's top wine experts, is now employed at Houston Wine Merchant. When I visited the store, he recommended that I consider Tablas Creek when I was talking about Chateauneuf-like wines. The Perrin family's Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone is made from grapes grown right across the road from the vineyards that produce Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape. But since the 1980s, the Perrin family has been working on creating a California Chateauneuf.

In 1989 they purchased a 120-acre property in the hills of the Las Tablas area west of Paso Robles—a region with limestone soils and a climate that resembles Châteauneuf du Pape. In January 1990, the first vine cuttings were imported from France, after USDA quarantine, the planting began in 1994, with 105 acres under vine as of 2011. Several clones each of Mourvédre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Counoise, Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, and Picpoul Blanc were imported to replicate an established French Rhone vineyard. The $60 price tag on the California clone is only about half the price of the original. The white Rhone-style Patelin de Tablas Blanc is $23. 

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