A fter returning from a long trip where we had a lot of foreign food, Teri and I were hungry for some good old American food. One night we had grilled chicken, another night pizza, and another night home made hamburgers on the grill.

For the hamburgers I opened a 2003 Tablas Creek Syrah. Wow! What a great wine. It was rich and smooth, full of lip-smacking fruit, and no sharp tannins. One of the nice things about keeping good red wine for a few years is that the fruit stays bright and fresh while the tannins just get more mellow.

That certainly was the case with the Tablas Creek. I opened the bottle about an hour before we started drinking, and that patience paid off. The wine was good from the first sip. It continued to evolve in the glass, but it was great from the first pour.

Tablas Creek Syrah

The color is a rich, dark purple, typical of Syrah. It had plenty of black raspberry and pepper on the nose, followed by intense ripe flavors of blackberry and spice. The finish was long and elegant.

The flavor was so good we were doing a lot of ooohing and aahhing.

Tablas Creek uses most of its Syrah in their Espirit de Beaucastel and Cotes de Tablas blends each year, but in 2003 they had enough grapes to bottle some 100% Syrah. It turned out sensational. They have continued to make a Syrah in good growing years. When you can find it (usually only through the winery) it costs about $35 or $40, and it’s well worth the price.

Homemade grilled hamburger and chips

Every time I make hamburgers I wonder why I don’t make them more often. They’re easy to make and they taste so good. I dice half an onion and mix it with about a pound of ground beef with an egg mixed it to hold it all together. I add some seasoned salt and make 5-6 burgers out of a pound of meat.

Then I cook them quickly over direct heat, charring the burgers just a little, but leaving the insides nice and juicy. Sometimes I add a slice of American cheese at the end, leaving the burgers on the grill just until the cheese melts.

We added potato chips, sliced cucumbers, celery and tomatoes, and we had an all-American feast. For dessert we had watermelon. Grilled homemade burgers are one of those summertime treats that can’t be duplicated in any restaurant.

Our all-American feast

Tablas Creek is an interesting winery in Paso Robles, California, producing French Rhone-style wines that are wonderful with food.

The winery is the realization of the combined efforts of two of the international wine community’s leading families, the Perrin family, proprietors of Château de Beaucastel, and Robert Haas, founder of Vineyard Brands. They had since the 1970s believed the California climate to be ideal for planting Rhône varietal grapes.

In 1987, they began the lengthy process of creating a Châteauneuf-du-Pape style vineyard from scratch in the New World. The Tablas Creek Vineyard Partnership was born, with the Perrin and Haas families as majority partners, and French and American wine loving friends as minority partners.

They planted 120 acres in west Paso Roles about 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The property elevation averages 1,500 feet, and the shallow, rocky limestone soils are of the same geologic origin as those at Beaucastel. Summer days are hot and sunny, but the influence of the nearby Pacific cools the nights, and the remarkably Rhône-like Paso Robles climate allows the grapes to mature fully and yet retain crisp acidity.

Tablas Creek concentrates on wines from the grapes traditional to France’s Rhone Valley. As in the southern Rhone, most of the wines are blended for balance and complexity. 

 All wines except the Patelin de Tablas and Patelin de Tablas Blanc are produced entirely from grapes grown on their certified organic estate vineyard.

The core blends are available in national distribution: Esprit de Beaucastel, based on Mourvèdre; Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, based on Roussanne; Côtes de Tablas, based on Grenache; Côtes de Tablas Blanc, based on Viognier; Patelin de Tablas Blanc, based on Grenache Blanc, and Patelin de Tablas, based on Syrah.

The winery also produces many small-production wines available only direct from the winery online, through their wine club or by visiting their tasting room in Paso Robles. It is an extremely nice tasting room worth a visit when you are in Paso Robles.
From: Paso Robles
Cost: $35
Year: 2003

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