This week, I’m going to discuss the little known French grape variety, Vaccarèse. It is a dark skinned grape that originates from the southern Rhône Valley in France. It also goes by the name Brun Argenté (which translates into brown silvery, indicative of the skin color the grapes exhibit). The French wine laws dictate which grapes are allowable within each region and what can be blended into the wine produced. The law in the Chateauneuf du Pape area allows for a select list of both white and red grapes that can be in final blends. Vaccarèse is one of 13 red wines allowed and only found in blended wines here. It is almost always blended with Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, the predominant grapes in this region. When it is used in a blend, it is done so to increase tannins and add a spicy or peppery note. Plantings are increasingly less common so finding a single varietal wine made from it is quite rare. In all of France, there were about 28 acres planted in 2016. Outside of France, no plantings existed until 2017, when Tablas Creek planted their first vines.
Tablas Creek in Paso Robles, CA, harvested their first vintage of Vaccarèse in 2019 and started selling bottles in 2021. They only have just over a half acre planted, so their production is very limited as well. When I saw it available, I surely couldn’t pass up the opportunity to claim a bottle! The 2019 Tablas Creek Vaccarèse is a lovely deep purple but didn’t leave any staining in the long legs that danced down the bowl of my glass. It smelled of lighter black fruits such as slightly under ripe blackberries or black currants, white pepper, pine with a touch of mint. It was developing more depth of character. This dry wine had smooth tannins that increased the texture. The acid, body and alcohol content were both moderate levels. Ripe blackberry and bramble were obvious from start through the finish. There were also flavors of tea leaves, faint spearmint/peppermint, and a touch of crushed red pepper that adds spice on the back of the palate. In time, this wine will continue to evolve in the bottle and possibly develop flavors of meat, leather, or tobacco. This wine was unique and I am greatly looking forward to tasting how it matures. That brings the total up to 177!