A delicious domestic find to accompany hearty fall dishes, this Rhône traveler by winemaker Pax Mahle boldly is made from old-vine Carignan planted in a Mendocino vineyard in 1912. The savory, gamey red has lots of spice and berry-cherry fruits coupled with bright acidity. Because it is not too complex or tannic, this a perfect wine for root vegetables, roasts, stews, cassoulet, or short-rib pot pie. Dishes with earthy, rich flavors make this wine irresistibly gulpable.
What Do Wines Aged in Concrete, Clay and Glass Taste Like?
“Concrete aged wine has a little more pep in its step,” says Pax Mahle, owner and winemaker at Pax Mahle Wines. “We typically press still-fermenting wines [with minimal residual sugar levels] into the concrete vessel where it will age, which produces CO2. This CO2 protects the wine from any excess oxygen exposure, ensuring that the wine is bright, fresh, and filled with energy.”
Russian River Valley Rosé: 15 Sonoma County Wineries to Visit.
Pax Wines’s tasting room and winemaking facility sustained significant damage from the February flooding of The Barlow. The tasting room reopened yesterday – another reason to celebrate with their Trousseau Gris rosé (also available at Crocodile French Cuisine in Petaluma and Miracle Plum in Santa Rosa). This funky wine pairs well with earthy spring vegetable dishes, like a spring pea, green garlic and ramp risotto.
Dunne on Wine: Syrah’s prospects pick up in cooler settings
Pax Mahle Wines 2011 Sonoma Coast Griffin’s Lair Syrah ($64): The most complex syrah of the day. It’s a brilliant exhibit of the intense and lush blueberry side of syrah, sprinkled generously not only with white pepper but black.
Think about this: Pax Sonoma-Hillsides – a California Syrah that was made with low-intervention winemaking techniques, using whole cluster fruit, little sulfur, no oak, and coming in under 13 percent – was just given a 100 point score by Antonio Galloni. If that’s not a shift in the paradigm, I don’t know what is.
2016 PAX Sonoma Hillside, Sonoma Coast 100 points
The 2016 Syrah Sonoma-Hillsides has been nothing less than stunning on the three occasions I have tasted it so far. A wine of extraordinary purity and depth, the 2016 dazzles from the very first taste. The richness and power are simply breathtaking. Bacon fat, smoke, grilled herb and lavender are woven into a graceful, seamless core of inky blue/purplish fruit. Even with all of its intensity, the 2016 remains remarkable light on its feet. The Sonoma-Hillsides is a blend of fruit from Castelli-Knight Ranch, Griffin’s Lair and Walker Vine Hill, done with 100% whole clusters and aged in a combination of concrete and neutral oak, with no SO2. I am not sure it will matter, as most bottles will be long gone before that is an issue. Quite simply, the Sonoma-Hillsides is a total pleasure bomb and a modern-day benchmark for Syrah in California. Don’t miss out! Drinking Window 2018 – 2026. (Vinous, Antonio Galloni, April 2018)
2015 PAX Chenin Blanc Buddhas Dharma Vineyard 91 points
The 2015 Chenin Blanc Buddhas Dharma Vineyard is bold, ample and creamy on the palate, with plenty of apricot pit chamomile, dried flower and honey notes. These old vines, planted in the 1940s, along with the natural richness of the year, produced an especially phenolic, intense expression of Chenin.
Drinking Window 2017 – 2021. (Vinous, Antonio Galloni, Jan. 2017)
2015 PAX The Vicar North Coast 90 points
The 2015 The Vicar, Pax’s entry-level, Grenache, is terrific. Pliant, supple and nuanced, the 2015 offers lovely purity of fruit in a silky, mid-weight, refreshing style that is ideal for drinking now and over the next few years, while the fruit remains fresh and vibrant. In 2015, the Vicar is equal parts Castelli-Knight Ranch and Alder Springs Grenache, vinified with 100% whole clusters. Drinking Window 2018 – 2022. (Vinous, Antonio Galloni, April 2018)
2015 PAX The Hermit North Coast 88 points
The 2015 The Hermit (Syrah) tastes very ripe and sweet, which is probably a reflection of an early-ripening vintage with very low yields, as the wine was aged in neutral oak. There is plenty of depth to the inky blue/purplish fruit, but most of the wine’s appeal is upfront, as the intensity tails off on the mid-palate and finish. The 2015 was done with 100% whole clusters. Fruit sources are Castelli-Knight Ranch, Griffin’s Lair, Walker Vine Hill Syrah and Alder Springs Syrah. Drinking Window 2018 – 2021. (Vinous, Antonio Galloni, April 2018)
2015 PAX Syrah Alder Springs Vineyard 92+ points
Pax’s 2015 Syrah Alder Springs Vineyard is powerful, dense and brooding, with very little vintage 2015 sexiness. Tiny yields of just 0.75 tons per acre mark the wine to a significant degree in both the intensity of fruit and tannin. Savory herb, leather, smoke, tobacco nuances open up in the glass, but the 2015 is a decidedly powerful, brooding wine that needs time to unwind. The question is whether there will be enough fruit when the tannins soften. There is a lot going on here, that much is obvious. Drinking Window 2020 – 2030. (Vinous, Antonio Galloni, April 2018)
Pax Mahle has gained a reputation as an extremely talented vintner of Rhone varieties. The wine shows a succulent nose of blackberries, leather, tar and earth and accompanies a huge mouthful of dark berry fruit. This highly extracted wine is one of the “biggest” Syrahs I have ever tasted yet it is in no way jammy or tiring on the palate. Bottled unfined and unfiltered this Hermitage-like wine is not for the timid. Splendid.