When the Perrin brothers of Chateau Beaucastel bought land in hilly, western Paso Robles, their goal was to produce New World wines in the Southern Rhone tradition. Their top wine, emulating a Chateauneuf du Pape, is known as Esprit de Tablas (formerly Esprit de Beaucastel). This wine, Cotes de Tablas, is fashioned after a Cotes du Rhone and has never been intended for aging. However, when staff at the estate went back and reviewed all of their wines made until 2011, it was decided that this 2003 had aged very nicely and was probably their best until that time. Even in 2011, however, no one was forecasting another six years for this wine, and it is now showing its age.
The color has not only taken on brickish tones but appears somewhat drab. The smells and flavors are likewise tired but still offer some pleasure. There is still some ripe Grenache fruit if you look hard enough, but it is somewhat dried out. Leather, spice and pepper add some interest.
I bought this bottle on close-out for $13.99 at Salut Wine and Spirits in Kalamazoo. (Original price was $20 to $25). There is no reason to expect this wine to be fresh and vibrant at 14 years of age. Compared to the 2001 and 2004 Cotes du Rhone wines from Domaine Sainte-Anne that I have been drinking recently, however, it is much more mature and less enjoyable.