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Saxum James Berry Vineyard 2005

Rhone Red Blends from Central Coast, California
  • RP95
  • WE95
15.5% ABV
  • RP97
  • RP98
  • WS97
  • RP97
  • V96
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15.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

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.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 95
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
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.

WE 95
Wine Enthusiast
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.
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Saxum
Saxum, , California
Saxum
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.

Russian River

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A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, The Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river which flows through the region. While there are warm pockets of the AVA, it is mostly a cool-climate growing region thanks to breezes and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in Russian River, with the best examples demonstrating a unique combination of richness and restraint. The cool weather makes Russian River an ideal AVA for sparkling wine production, utilizing the aforementioned varieties. Zinfandel also performs exceptionally well here. Within the Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. The former, further from the ocean, is relatively warm, with a focus on red and white Bordeaux varieties. The latter is the coolest, foggiest parcel of the Russian River Valley and is responsible for outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Chardonnay

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One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.

In the Glass

When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.

Perfect Pairings

Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.

Sommelier Secret

Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.

DOB100761_2005 Item# 100761

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