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."
Saxum Heart Stone Vineyard (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2005
Rhone Red Blends from Central Coast, California
I am really happy with this wine. It strikes a great balance between big fruit and delicacy. The Grenache really comes through on the nose with tons of kirsch, the Syrah gives it great texture, and the Mourvedre adds some spice to the finish. Thanks to the great acidity, the purity of the wine shines through, yet like all of Saxums' wines, its got some weight, with a long life ahead of it.
The Wine Advocate - "The northern Rhone-like 2005 Heart Stone Vineyard is a blend of 44% Syrah, 33% Grenache, and 23% Mourvedre. A meaty nose with roasted Provencal herbs, cassis, blackberry, licorice, and smoke emerges from this Hermitage-styled effort. Structured and firm, it will benefit from 1-2 years of bottle age, and should evolve effortlessly for a decade or more. The bottled 2005s are all performing well.
Wine Enthusiast - "The chocolate, cassis, cherry liqueur, licorice and smoky oak flavors are wrapped into smooth, rich, ripe tannins. Compulsively drinkable, almost a food group on its own, the wine is roughly equal parts Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. "
International Wine Cellar - "Deep ruby. Room-filling bouquet of red and black fruits, Asian spices, fresh violet and lavender and suave vanillin oak. Vibrant, palate-staining raspberry and blackberry flavors deliver sweet depth, with zesty minerality adding energy. Silky tannins slowly build on the long, spicy finish. Seamless and elegant; this is more open than the Broken Stones today."
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Saxum Vineyards is focused on producing Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre based blends from the Templeton Gap of Paso Robles, California. We let our rocky calcareous soils, steep hillsides, and cooling ocean breezes speak through our wines by keeping our yields extremely low, picking fruit at the peak of ripeness, and using a minimalist approach in the cellar. Production is kept at a total of 2200-2800 cases per year divided between 6 different cuvees, Broken Stones, Heart Stone Vineyard, James Berry Vineyard, Booker Vineyards, Rocket Block and Bone Rock. View all Saxum Wines
About Central CoastView a map of Central Coast wineries
The largest of California's wine growing regions, the Central Coast produces the majority of California's wine. The district sprawls out, covering most of the vineyard land between San Francisco and Santa Barbara. Smaller sub-AVAs of the Central Coast include Monterey Bay, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and many others.
Notable FactsGrape varieties range from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Some Central Coast wine is generic, bulk wine that contributes to the high production numbers of the area. But many winemakers and wineries, particular in some of the smaller AVAs, are small production artisans, creating unique and high-quality wine. The great thing about the Central Coast is its diversity - you're able to find a number of grape varieties and styles at a number of different price points.
About CaliforniaIt's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.