Saxum Tasting

Zurich

Tasted July 13, 2019 by Cailles with 52 views

Introduction

Comprehensive Saxum Tasting organized by an avid Swiss wine collector with an unbelievable depth in his cellar of Californian wines. Great event at Gustav restaurant with high-quality food and first class service.

Flight 1 (7 notes)

Red
2011 Saxum Broken Stones USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
94 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the winemaking at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: Marked by a wonderful the dark berry and meaty, bacon and olive nose, quite intense and powerful. Reminiscent of a Northern Rhone powerhouse. A killer nose. 96/97 points for the nose. On the palate much softer than anticipated, more red fruit-driven with some herbal notes. Almost all Broken Stones wines showed almost no minerality/earthy component, little terroir expression. Not as intense, precise and complex as on the nose. Good, soft tannins, good freshness. Medium+ length. 92/93 for the palate. Not decanted and no extensive decant needed.
Red
2010 Saxum Broken Stones USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
94 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: Black currant, blueberries, earth and some heat on the nose. Like all Broken Stones more red fruit on the palate, along some blue fruit, some eucalyptus notes bringing in an additional layer of freshness. Again, soft tannins, good freshness but only medium palate weight, intensity, complexity and length. Almost all Broken Stones wines showed almost no minerality/earthy component, little terroir expression. A tad above the 2011, 2009 and 2008. Only edged out by a narrow margin by the 2007 with all the weight of the perfect vintage. No decant needed.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2009 Saxum Broken Stones USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
93 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: This was the weakest Broken Stones wine, although all are in a fairly 93 to 95 point range (with two bad bottle 05/03). It showed a bit heat on the nose along rather thick black fruit on the nose and more sweet red fruit on the palate. Like almost all Broken Stones wines it showed almost no minerality/earthy component, little terroir expression. Medium- complexity, medium length, good balance and a soft and harmonious structural frame. Not decanted, no decant needed.
Red
2008 Saxum Broken Stones USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
94 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: This wine was sweeter and more red fruit driven than the other Broken Stones wines. Alongside some meaty tones and hints of minerality (the other Broken Stones wines, with 2007 being the exception, had almost no detectable earthy/mineral component). Very round, well balanced, fierce and thick but not too much. Good finish but medium- complexity only. All in all a very good wine. Not decanted, no decant needed.
Red
2007 Saxum Broken Stones USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
95 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: A powerful nose bursting out of the glass with loads of blackberries, black currant and blueberries alongside some meaty notes, earthy notes and first hints of tertiary development with dry leather. Same picture on the dense, powerful palate with some red fruit tones cutting through the loads of blackberries. Despite all the power and density the wine has a remarkable fine and balanced structure with enough acidity. Good texture, complexity and finish. 95 to 96 points in the context of this large tasting but I guess this wine could climb to 97/98 points if you follow it over an evening and are able to discover all its complexity. Not decanted, no decant needed.
Red
2005 Saxum Broken Stones USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: Sadly, this was slightly corked but underneath it showed quite a bit of age signs. I wouldn't wait any longer.
Red
2003 Saxum Broken Stones USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: This was pretty weak showing a lot of signs of age on the nose and palate along pretty sweet and overripe, port-like fruit. Not a winner. No rating as I‘m not sure if the bottle was representative (despite perfect provenance and storage).

Flight 2 (3 notes)

Red
2008 Saxum Heart Stone Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
94 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: As mentioned above, the Heart Stone wines stood out from the crowd thanks to more terroir expression, better purity and an elevated freshness. This 2008 is no exception. Fresh red berries, some hints of darker fruit, wet stone on the nose. An array of pure red, blue and dark berries on the palate, wet rocks, scents of wet earth on the palate. This was a tad behind the other Heart Stone wines due to a borderline sweet fruit core which pushed everything else into the background. Very good freshness, smooth round tannins. Medium+ complexity, very good focus, good length and well balanced. Not decanted and no decant needed.
Red
2007 Saxum Heart Stone Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
95 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: As mentioned above, the Heart Stone wines stood out from the crowd thanks to more terroir expression, better purity and an elevated freshness. The 2007 had probably the least intense fruit expression on the nose, much more minerality and smoke dominated here. Not yet fully open for business. More expression on the palate with a sweet fruit core of blue and red fruits, wet crushed rocks, earthy notes, herbs. Exceptional purity of fruit, very fresh and not showing the alcohol at all. Very smooth round tannins and good balance. The freshness and purity were the highlights here, despite the fact, that the wine is rather in a sleepy phase. Although not today, the wine will one day for sure outshine the 2005 drank alongside (96 points). 95++ points. Not decanted but it would have needed some air. I would advise to give it at least 3 hours in the decanter.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2005 Saxum Heart Stone Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
96 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: As mentioned above, the Heart Stone wines stood out from the crowd thanks to more terroir expression, better purity and an elevated freshness. This was one of the winners of the whole tasting thanks to the freshness and terroir expression in combination with tertiary development (very little in most other wines) which added an additional layer of depth. On the nose and palate some leather, barnyard, forest floor, mushroom scents along the sweet red and blue fruit, minerality and herbal aromas. All embedded in the fresh and smooth structural frame. Great purity and focus. Good length and harmony. Didn't need any decant but one or two hours would not hurt. 96+ points.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 3 (4 notes)

Red
2011 Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
94 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: The Booker Vineyards wines are a virtual blend between the Broken Stone wines (new oak, powerful fruit expression) and the Heart Stone wines (focus and minerality). I liked them a lot with the 2007 being the winner due to its depth. Lots of black currant and blueberries on the nose along some minerality but not as well-defined as in the Heart Stone wines. At first the dark fruit theme continues on the palate but with a bit of time the profile changes and becomes more red with a sweet strawberry core. Light (in a good way), fresh, round, smooth and balanced. Not the most complex wine but on all fronts on a very good level. A tad of heat was showing, so don't drink it too warm. Not decanted, no decant needed.
Red
2010 Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
96 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: The Booker Vineyards wines are a virtual blend between the Broken Stone wines (new oak, powerful fruit expression) and the Heart Stone wines (focus and minerality). I liked them a lot with the 2007 being the winner due to its depth. Blackberries, blueberries, strong crushed rocks minerality, black olives, fresh herbs on the nose and palate. Medium+ complexity, well-delineated and with a very good freshness to balance the alcohol and fruit sweetness perfectly. A great wine only a tad behind the very intriguing 2007. Not decanted, no decant needed but one or the other hour of air wouldn't hurt either.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2009 Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
93 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: The Booker Vineyards wines are a virtual blend between the Broken Stone wines (new oak, powerful fruit expression) and the Heart Stone wines (focus and minerality). I liked them a lot with the 2007 being the winner due to its depth. This was the weakest Booker with some heat and oak showing. Not yet fully integrated and balanced enough. Beside that usual profile with dark, blue and red fruit, a sweet core, some minerality embedded in a soft and light structural frame. Not decanted. I would wait a few years with this wine. If you open a bottle I would go with a rather long decant (4-5 hours).
Red
2007 Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
96 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: The Booker Vineyards wines are a virtual blend between the Broken Stone wines (new oak, powerful fruit expression) and the Heart Stone wines (focus and minerality). I liked them a lot with the 2007 being the winner due to its depth. A complex, well-delineated nose displaying bold black and sweet red berries, crushed rocks, leather and some earthy notes. Same profile on the palate with more diverse minerality, lots of wet and dry earth, some barnyard funk. Very precise, long and intense but all embedded in a light structural frame with very smooth tannins, great freshness which keeps everything light and delicious. Not decanted, no decant needed. I guess with a few more years of age and more tertiary complexity it will even be better.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 4 (6 notes)

Red
2011 Saxum James Berry Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
96 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: I'm a big fan of Central Californian Grenache based wines as the combination of the warm climate with the elegance and light-footedness of grape seem a match made in heaven. Hence it is no wonder that the highest scores in this mini-vertical (6 vintages) went to the wines with the highest share of Grenache in the blend (perfect correlation!). The 2011 consists of 69% Grenache (rest Syrah, Mourvedre). Stems, smoke, earth, minerality and red berries on the nose and palate. The stems, herbal component added complexity and an additional layer of freshness. I liked that a lot. Powerful on the nose, light-footed, medium-bodied on the palate. Good precision, length and balanced. Very fine tannins. Great to drink today without a decant.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Saxum James Berry Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
95 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: I'm a big fan of Central Californian Grenache based wines as the combination of the warm climate with the elegance and light-footedness of grape seem a match made in heaven. Hence it is no wonder that the highest scores in this mini-vertical (6 vintages) went to the wines with the highest share of Grenache in the blend (perfect correlation!). The 2010 consists of 52% Grenache (rest Syrah, Mourvedre). ). I like the nutty component here with roasted almonds and hints of burnt sugar on the nose and palate. Herbal component and rather dense dark fruit are other components. Dark, dense but well-embedded in a fresh structure with fine tannins and a good acidity. Medium complexity, good to very good focus and length. Not decanted. The nose was a bit muted, hence I would go for an extensive 3-5 hour decant. And it will certainly benefit from 5 more years in the cellar. Very promising showing.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2009 Saxum James Berry Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
96 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: I'm a big fan of Central Californian Grenache based wines as the combination of the warm climate with the elegance and light-footedness of grape seem a match made in heaven. Hence it is no wonder that the highest scores in this mini-vertical (6 vintages) went to the wines with the highest share of Grenache in the blend (perfect correlation!). The 2009 consists of 57% Grenache (rest Syrah, Mourvedre). A big, dark and bold wine with loads and loads of very pure cassis fruit - the clear highlight here. Along that some red berries, blackberries as well as scents of earth and stone. Probably not the most complex wine (mainly also due to the intense fruit component) but so seductive and great. With a few additional layers of aromas which will develop with more age, this could become an exceptional wine. The purity and focus, the fresh, elegant palate sensation despite all the intensity are already exceptional. 96+ points. Not decanted, no decant needed but better just wait a few years.
Red
2008 Saxum James Berry Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
94 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: I'm a big fan of Central Californian Grenache based wines as the combination of the warm climate with the elegance and light-footedness of grape seem a match made in heaven. Hence it is no wonder that the highest scores in this mini-vertical (6 vintages) went to the wines with the highest share of Grenache in the blend (perfect correlation!). The 2008 consists of 52% Grenache (rest Syrah, Mourvedre). This is the older sibling of the 2011, also dominated by herbal notes, green notes, stems adding additional complexity and freshness to the wine. Along that lots of dark fruit which is quite ripe - a tad too ripe for my taste buds. Hence, the slightly lower rating vs the 2011 (95 points). Nevertheless, a very good wine, dense but fresh and light with a good balance and length. No extensive decant needed here, still a few more years on the hip might add one or the other pleasant aromatic layer.
Red
2007 Saxum James Berry Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
93 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: I'm a big fan of Central Californian Grenache based wines as the combination of the warm climate with the elegance and light-footedness of grape seem a match made in heaven. Hence it is no wonder that the highest scores in this mini-vertical (6 vintages) went to the wines with the highest share of Grenache in the blend (perfect correlation!). The 2007 consists of 41% Grenache (rest Syrah, Mourvedre). Lowest Grenache share in the blend of all 6 vintages and lowest rating. Surprisingly, this wine didn't show the elevated depth of the 2007s from the other vineyards. Medium- complexity only with some herbal scents, dark, blue and red fruit. Not as expressive and deep as the other James Berry wines, not as pure and strong. Nevertheless, certainly a good wine. Probably some more years or an extensive decant might change that. I wouldn't give up yet.
Red
2006 Saxum James Berry Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
93 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: I'm a big fan of Central Californian Grenache based wines as the combination of the warm climate with the elegance and light-footedness of grape seem a match made in heaven. Hence it is no wonder that the highest scores in this mini-vertical (6 vintages) went to the wines with the highest share of Grenache in the blend (perfect correlation!). The 2006 consists of 45% Grenache (rest Syrah, Mourvedre). This wine showed fairly complex with the typical James Berry profile of dark and red fruit with a herbal and earthy component. What made it inferior to other (younger) vintages was the elevated ripeness and a certain fatness. Not too extreme, still a good wine but not the vintage I would chase. Maybe some more years will make it more harmonious. Not decanted, no decant needed.

Flight 5 (3 notes)

Red
2011 Saxum Bone Rock James Berry Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
95 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: A great wine with loads of ripe dark berries, minerality and a slight nutty component which is very intriguing. Nicely complex and despite the density, intensity and power still on the elegant side with very fine tannins and a good freshness. Definitely on the heavier side but still a great example of Californian Syrah. Not decanted, no decant needed but some more years on the hips will further lift the complexity and soften the structure. Hence, I would wait a few years.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2008 Saxum Bone Rock James Berry Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
97 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: In my opinion, this was the best wine of all Saxums tasted. Dark, dens and ripe with lots of black and blue fruit, very good minerality with crushed rocks and some wet slate. A sexy component of some nuts and dark chocolate. Great intensity, great purity, great length. All that intensity is embedded in a soft and fresh structural frame with very fine tannins and a very good acidity. Not at all heavy or cloying. A magical wine. Not decanted and no decant needed. Very good to drink right now even without tertiary aromas.
Red
2007 Saxum Bone Rock James Berry Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
94 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: Currently, the weakest of the three Bone Rock wines tested (2011, 2008) as it showed some heat along the same aromatic profile as the others (dark, dense fruit, minerality, nuttiness). A bit less expressive too. I guess, this just needs more time to unfold, integrate and open up. As all Saxums the structure is fine and elegant, despite all the power. If you pop a bottle today, I would give it a long decant (4+ hours) or better just wait a few years.

Flight 6 (1 note)

Red
2006 Saxum 32 Month Barrel Age James Berry Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
92 points
Comprehensive vertical tasting of several Saxum vineyards and a total of 24 wines. Most wines on a good to very good level in the 93 to 95 points range, just one on an exceptional (97+ points) level (James Berry Bone Rock 08). The consistency of the wine-making at Saxum is impressive but the tasting proofed to be rather a bit boring with less difference between the vineyards and vintages showing than expected and wished for. Heart Stone stood out a bit (bigger vats used, little new oak) thanks to more terroir expression. James Berry (mostly Grenache) and James Berry Bone Rock (elevated complexity and sexiness) were great. Best vintage (we tried wines from 2003 to 2011) is clearly the 2007 which produced the wines with the most depth.

TN: This was the weakest wine in the lineup. The 2000s were generally marked by high extraction and ripeness around the world as the main goal. Saxum did a good job not to produce too ripe or extracted wines, however, this special cuvee which spent 32 months in small barrel has overstepped the mark. To thick, harsh, intensive, too much power and alcohol. Just a bit too much of everything. Probably it just needs another 10 years to come around and soften. The stuffing is certainly there and impressive.
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