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Pax Sonoma Hillsides Syrah 2017

Syrah/Shiraz from Sonoma County, California
  • V94
750ML / 12.9% ABV
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750ML / 12.9% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Fresh aromas of blackberry liqueur, roasted earth, black licorice, black pepper and hickory smoke. This is what Syrah smells and tastes like. Rich, supple, incredibly textured and so delicious. Nothing is out of place here, loads of fruit, Indian spices, savory umami, sweet fruit and a textural lightness that is typically unseen in the standard goofball California Syrah that favors weight over complexity.

Critical Acclaim

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V 94
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So, let's get one thing out of the way. The 2017 Syrah Sonoma-Hillsides is not the 2016. That is not a bad thing, as the 2017 has plenty to offer, and won't be the subject of rabid speculation. In the glass, the 2017 is richer, sweeter and more immediate than the much darker and more brooding 2016, with a distinct red fruit character. Best of all, it will drink well upon release. All things considered, Pax Mahle turned out a brilliant Syrah in 2017 and my guess is that less extreme vintages will provide an opportunity for him to match the 2016 – which, in my view, remains his best wine ever. Vineyard sites are Walker Vine Hill, Nellessen Vineyard, Castelli-Knight Ranch and Griffin's Lair.
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Pax
Pax, California
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Pax Wine Cellars is focusing on the production of premium vineyard-designated Syrah based wines from the North Coast of California. We hope to eventually add a Grenache based wine, and a Northern Rhone inspired white wine. Quality is key and sourcing exceptional sources for these two wines is paramount. Our Mission Statement is simply stated; “To produce reference point Syrah based wines that are indicative of where they are grown”. We are not trying to replicate any other Syrah produced in the world; Hermitage can only be made from one place. Our intent is to create unique wines with strong personalities of where they are grown. We believe that the cooler climates along the northern coast of California have the potential to produce world-class Syrah, and that is our goal. We utilize traditional winemaking techniques; it is a style of winemaking that is really without a style. The uniqueness of the growing sites for each of these vineyards should give the wine its personality; it is our job to encourage that personality to shine through. We feel the best way to accomplish this is by utilizing Indigenous fermentations, minimal handling, unobtrusive use of the finest French oak and bottling without filtering or fining. This approach to winemaking is very pure and unadulterated; therefore the wines will typically vary in color, alcohol, pH and most other characteristics that determine any given winery's ‘style’. Each of our wines is the purest expression of that vineyards fruit that we are able to capture in the bottle. This is the reason that sourcing vineyards of exception or at least vineyards that have ‘something to say’ is the single most important thing that we can do to guarantee our success. We spend, as much time in our vineyards as we can. It is simply the only way. We lease our parcels by the acre or row when necessary, and we encourage organic farming practices. Low yields are a rule and each vine is cared for individually.
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Sonoma County

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Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa Valley, the region only produces about half the amount of wine but boasts both tremendous quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.

Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.

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Syrah/Shiraz

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Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.

Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.

In the Glass

Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.

Perfect Pairings

Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.

Sommelier Secret

Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.

PRG000968_17_2017 Item# 515742