Buying Wine

Saxum 2013 Winter Release

wine cellar

The much anticipated release letter from Saxum arrived today. Not much to note other than well-deserved high praise from critics, pricing consistent with the release last Summer and perhaps the addition of concrete tanks in the winemaking process.

I’ve blogged about Saxum previously in Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings and Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5. Hard to go wrong on this one.

Greetings Friends,

Well here we are, December 21st, 2012 is behind us, and not only was it the shortest day of the year (and one of the coldest for us), but according to a certain Mayan calendar, it was supposed to be the last day…..Ever.  I’m glad to see we all made it through fairly intact! Although I hope some of you decided you weren’t going to go out with a full cellar and did your best to drink up all those wines you had been saving until the end.  So that’s where I come in!  We have a new stash of Saxum wines to replenish that diminished cellar.

Today we are offering four wines from the great 2010 vintage. 2010 Broken Stones, 2010 Booker Vineyard, 2010 Heart Stone, and 2010 Bone Rock. Like I have said before, I think the 2010s, which came from a very cool year, are very structured wines. These wines will benefit from some cellar time. More so than any set of wines we have produced to this date……. I think.  It’s always such guess work with aging.  I am asked all the time how well Saxum ages, and I can only say that the first JBV wines we made from 1998 and 1999 under the Linne Calodo label have held up beautifully. They are as fresh and alive as they were 10 years ago.  Are they any better than 10 years ago? Well, that my friends is a personal preference.  Some people love the big, juicy fruit and structured tannins that our wines have in their youth. While others like the tannins and fruit to take a back seat to the secondary complexities which only come out with some aging. What I like is ……..both! Pulling a wine once a year until they are gone, tracking how they change and how different they are from year to year is a real joy.  I apologize to those of you we can only offer a small amount to. We are doing our best to get everybody a little more, but currently many of these wines come from a very limited production.

2010 BROKEN STONES ($89)
63% Syrah, 19% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache, 3% Petite Sirah. 15.3% alc.  1500 cases produced
Even more perfumed and up front aromatically, the 2010 Saxum Broken Stones is a brilliant effort. A multi-vineyard blend… that was aged mostly in new French oak, it offers up a gorgeously pure array of black raspberry, charcoal, licorice, lavender, and assorted floral qualities on the nose. This flows to a full-bodied, deft, and elegant palate that has no hard edges, a weightless feel, and masses of fine, yet firm tannin on the finish. Give bottles another year or three, and then drink over the following 12-15 years. (96 pts.) – Jeb Dunnuck, The Rhone Report

81% Syrah, 19% Mourvèdre. 15.9% alc. 500 cases produced
Also spectacular, the 2010 Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard… is about as textbook a representation of a Paso Robles Syrah as I can think of. Locked and loaded with notions of ripe black and blue fruits, smoke, bouquet garni, espresso, and licorice, it is unabashedly full-bodied, rich, and yet elegant on the palate. Showing real class, as well as first-rate freshness, superb depth and concentration, and masses of tannin, this blockbuster syrah needs a solid 3-4 years of bottle age to flesh out and will keep for 15-20 years or more. (98 pts.) – Jeb Dunnuck, The Rhone Report

51% Syrah, 49% Grenache. 15.7% alc. 400 cases produced
The 2010 Heart Stone Vineyard opens with a dark, brooding nose redolent of smoke, tar, incense and licorice. Elements of dark, inward fruit continue to build in the glass. There is an exotic element in the Heart Stone that is undeniably appealing. Layers of fruit crescendo to the huge, towering finish. The 2010 is 51% Syrah and 49% Grenache aged in small new French oak barrels, an approach that works extremely well here. Justin Smith seems to know exactly what each of his wines needs. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2020. 95-97 – Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate

2010 BONE ROCK ($89)
89% Syrah, 11% Roussanne. 15.6% alc. 200 cases produced
Coming from a steep, terraced plot of head trained Syrah, the 2010 Saxum Bone Rock… is easily the most structured, intense wine in the lineup. Sporting absolutely off the hook aromas of smoked meats, black fruits, liquid mineral, pepper, and cigar wrapper, it flows onto the palate with a thick, incredibly rich texture that somehow manages to stays light and fresh. A total behemoth, it needs time to fully flesh out, yet is up there with some of the most monumental young wines I’ve tasted. It should be forgotten for 3-4 years, and then consumed over the following two decades. (99 pts.) – Jeb Dunnuck, The Rhone Report

I am thrilled to see that the 2010 Bone Rock is just as phenomenal today as it was last year. An exotic blend of 89% Syrah and 11% Roussanne (co-fermented), the Bone Rock boasts stunning aromatic and flavor intensity and remarkable overall balance. The Roussanne tempers the brute power of the Syrah, while allowing the fruit to be totally expressive and beautiful. Ripe, silky tannins frame dark red fruit, exotic spices and white flowers on the striking finish. Saxum lovers will not want to miss this dazzling effort. The use of 40% whole clusters works beautifully here. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2020.  96-98 – Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate

I want to include some additional words from Antonio Galloni….
I have been looking forward to tasting the Saxum 2010s since I saw several component wines from barrel last year. Justin and Heather Smith, along with Eric Jensen at Booker, Matt Trevisan at Linne Calodo, Cris Cherry at Villa Creek and a handful of other growers, represent the cutting edge of the adventurous, pioneering spirit that is the essence of Paso Robles, and also in many ways, the heart of what makes the United States a great country. Take it from someone who spends a lot of time in Europe every year, this level of ambition is rare in the world…… Justin Smith describes 2010 as the coldest year he had ever seen, until 2011. Although 2010 was a cold year, Smith says he still got the ripeness levels he looks for, it just took a lot more time because the growing season turned out to be very long. …..The 2010 vintage also signals a bit of a stylistic shift at Saxum. Concrete tanks were first introduced with the 2009 vintage, but in 2010 about 50% of the fruit was fermented in concrete, while the Grenache for the James Berry Vineyard bottling was vinified and aged partly in concrete….

What do you think? Are you a buyer?

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