2005 Saxum "James Berry Vineyard" Paso Robles Rhône Blend
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Starting off the more southern Rhone-inspired blends, the 2005 James Berry Vineyard is a brilliant effort that’s drinking perfectly. Made from 70% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre and 10% Grenache, it gives up incredible aromas of sweet blackcurrants, blackberry liqueur, spiced meats, licorice and roasted meats that are just now starting to show hints of evolution. Sweetly fruited and with full-bodied richness, this beauty is hard to resist and has fabulous concentration, sweet tannin and a seamless finish. It will have another decade of longevity, yet there is no harm in drinking it now. (JD)
*Best of 2008* 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, Mourvèdre and Grenache.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Deep ruby. Intense raspberry and blackberry aromas are underscored by suave minerality and fresh violet, with a gentle tobacco quality adding depth. Medium in weight but packed with rich, sweet berry fruit and exotic floral pastille flavors. Seems to gain energy on the finish, which echoes the mineral and floral character. Very impressive and sure to reward at least four or five years of cellaring. (JR)
70% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Grenache. Additional vintage and producer notes from Parker: "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." (6/2008)