Saxum James Berry Vineyard (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2008
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.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2008 James Berry Vineyard (52% Grenache, 31% Mourvedre, and 17% Syrah) saw some of its Grenache aged in the concrete eggs that are now catching on among some of the top producers on California’s Central Coast. With strong minerality from the limestone soil, this exuberant, fleshy, full-bodied wine is already drinking well. (I believe it was actually bottled just a day or two before my visit, which makes its performance that much more remarkable.) Dense purple, with sweet notes of barbecue smoke and meats as well as roasted herbs, extravagant black cherry, black currant, and blackberry fruit are all present in this wine, but there is plenty of underlying structure that comes from both the minerality and the Mourvedre component. Pure, full-bodied, but again, impressively elegant and nuanced, this is a tour de force and another prodigious example of this extraordinary vineyard site.
Riveting aromas of fresh raspberry, mineral, wilted rose and wild berry turn firm and spicy, full-bodied and concentrated on the finish, yet the flavors dance with acidity. The purity of the crushed rock and snappy berry flavors is rivaled by the elegance and finesse evident in the texture, balance and length. Ends with a subtle touch of toasty oak and black licorice. Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Drink now through 2024. 580 cases made
The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces a good majority of the state's wine. This vast district stretches from San Francisco all the way to Santa Barbara along the coast, and reaches inland nearly all the way to the Central Valley.
Encompassing an extremely diverse array of climates, soil types and wine styles, it contains many smaller sub-AVAs, including San Francisco Bay, Monterey, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley.
While the region could probably support almost any major grape varietiy, it is famous for a few. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are among the major ones. The Central Coast is home to many of the state's small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as larger producers also making exceptional wines.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.