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Professional Ratings: 95 The Wine Advocate, 95 Wine Enthusiast, 93 International Wine Cellar
Region: Central Coast, California
Varietal: Rhone Red Blends
Other Info: Boutique Wines, Collectible Wines
Style: Big & Bold
Alcohol By Volume: 15.5%
Item no. 100761
The James Berry Vineyard, the Smith family's estate vineyard, is located only 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean with an average elevation of 1200 feet. A series of slopes with shallow clay loam topsoil over an ancient seabed, complete with fossilized shells and sharks teeth. The cuvee is now always a red fruit driven Grenache based blend, with a large portion of Mourvedre for texture, and Syrah as spicy support. Aged for 18-20 months in a variety of vessels, with the Grenache portion aging in concrete tank and larger puncheons, and the Mourvedre and Syrah aging in the smaller French barrels with a higher percentage of them new. The wine is always rich and layered, with raspberries and blackberries leading the way along with Provencial herbs and smooth dense tannins. Like all our wines, they are never racked off their lees and are bottled unfined and unfiltered.
The 2005 James Berry Vineyard (70% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre, and 10% Grenache) exhibits the super precision, minerality, and clarity this site seems to provide. It is a dense, concentrated wine bursting with notes of creme de cassis, blackberries, smoke, earth, and jus de viande. This textured, French-styled 2005 can be drunk early or cellared for 10-12 years. The bottled 2005s are all performing well.
One of the superstar, artisinal winemaking operations in Paso Robles is Heather and Justin Smith's Saxum Vineyard. The Smiths are also the proprietors of the James Berry Vineyard, an exceptional hillside site planted in pure white limestone, a site that provides extraordinary richness, minerality, precision, and individuality. Like his colleague to the south, Manfred Krankl, Justin Smith has been moving from strength to strength, building more elegance and nuances into his wines without sacrificing their intrinsic intensity, purity, and richness. As for the 2006s, these wines are scheduled to be bottled slightly later than usual as Justin Smith is another producer who is instituting longer cask and pungeon agings. The 2007s tasted suggest this may be one of the finest vintages Saxum has yet produced. The wines are already spectacular, and will no doubt gain in weight, texture, and nuances over the next year.
Solidly in the Saxum style, which is to say a high alcohol (15.5%), massively flavored wine of enormous concentration and power. The blackberry, cherry, cassis and chocolate flavors have all kind of overtones, ranging from licorice and vanilla to gingerbread and candied violets. Saxum has become a cult favorite, one of the highest-priced brands from Paso Robles, and wines like this are the reason why. Drink now and through 2008. Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache.
Deep ruby. Intense raspberry and blackberry aromas are underscored by suave minerality and fresh violet, with a gentle tobacco quality adding depth. Medium in weight but packed with rich, sweet berry fruit and exotic floral pastille flavors. Seems to gain energy on the finish, which echoes the mineral and floral character. Very impressive and sure to reward at least four or five years of cellaring.