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Flat front label of wine
Flat front label of wine

Saxum James Berry Vineyard (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2009

Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
  • RP98
  • WS97
  • JS97
15.8% ABV
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15.8% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The wine is rich and layered. Raspberries and blackberries lead the way followed by Provencial herbs and smooth dense tannins. Our wines are never racked off their lees and are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Blend: 57% Grenache, 31% Mourvèdre, 12% Syrah

Critical Acclaim

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RP 98
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Simply put, the 2009 James Berry Vineyard is one of the greatest young wines I have ever tasted from California, or anywhere for that matter. Bright, floral aromatics lead to expressive red fruit in this impossibly elegant, dazzling wine. A melange of rose petals, mint and licorice follows as the James Berry shows off its breathtaking clarity and finesse. Fine-grained, chalky tannins frame the exceptional finish. Frankly, I am surprised this is the first wine of the tasting. Where does one go from here? The 2009 James Berry is a bit of departure from previous vintages. This is the highest percentage of Grenache ever used in the blend, and a large portion of the Grenache was aged in concrete, an approach Smith has borrowed from producers in the Rhone. Originally Smith had intended to age less of the Grenache components in concrete, but the low yields of the vintage forced him to age about two-thirds of the Grenache in concrete. Call it a happy coincidence, but it certainly looks like things turned out well. Readers should do whatever they can to taste this fabulous wine. In 2009 the James Berry Vineyard is 57% Grenache, 31% Mourvedre and 12% Syrah.
WS 97
Wine Spectator
Strikingly complex, rich and fruity, this beautifully proportioned red delivers an initial burst of red berry fruit that echoes red and black licorice. This quickly gains traction and depth, with firm, layered tannins that give the spicy berry flavors a perfect foundation. Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah.
JS 97
James Suckling
Beautiful aromas of violets and sandalwood. Bright fruit too, with citrus, zest and mineral notes. Full, yet compacted and dense. Long and spicy yet minerally and fruity. Warm finish. So wonderful now but will age beautifully. Amazing elegance.
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Saxum
Saxum, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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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.

Paso Robles

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Paso Robles has made a name for itself as a source of supple, fruity, and powerful wines. With 11 smaller sub-AVAs, there is quite a bit of diversity to be found in this inland portion of California’s Central Coast.

This is mostly red wine country, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel standing out as the star performers. Other popular varieties include Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, and Rhône varieties both red and white. There is a fairly uniform tendency here towards wines that are unapologetically bold and opulently fruity, albeit with a surprising amount of acidity thanks to the region’s chilly nighttime temperatures.

Rhône Blends

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With bold fruit flavors and accents of spice, Rhône red blends originated in France’s Southern Rhône valley and have become popular in Priorat, Washington, South Australia, and California’s Central Coast. In the Rhône itself, 19 grape varieties are permitted for use, but many of these blends, are based on Grenache and supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre, earning the nickname “GSM blends.” Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are perhaps the best-known outposts for these wines. Other varieties that may be found in Rhône blends include Carignan, Cinsault, and Counoise.

In the Glass

The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache, which often forms the base of these blends, is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit, a plush texture, and often high levels of alcohol. Syrah supplies darker fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy, and meaty notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume as well as body, tannin, and a healthy dose of color. New World examples will lie further along the fruit-forward end of the spectrum, while those from the Old World taste and smell much earthier, often with a “barnyard” character that is attractive to many fans of these wines.

Perfect Pairings

Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. Depending on the weight and alcohol level, these can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes—they play equally well with beef, pork, duck, lamb, or game. With their high acidity, these wines are best-matched with salty or fatty foods, and can handle the acidity of tomato sauce in pizza or pasta. Braised beef cheeks, grilled lamb sausages, or roasted squab are all fine pairings.

Sommelier Secret

Some regions like to put their own local spin on the Rhône red blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin, and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or even Tempranillo make an appearance.

NVSJBERRYMG_2009 Item# 120655