Saxum Vineyards

James Berry Vineyard Syrah Blend

9.520 ratings
9.51 pro ratings
Paso Robles, Central Coast, California, USA
Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre
Lamb, Chocolate & Caramel, Herbs, Soft Cheese, Salami & Prosciutto, Turkey, Pasta, Mushrooms, Veal, Tomato-Based, Chicken, Exotic Spices, Potato, White Rice, Duck, Nuts & Seeds, Onion, Shallot, Garlic, Asian Cuisine, Salads & Greens, Quinoa, Farro, Brown Rice, Quinoa, Beef, Chili & Hot Spicy, Hard Cheese, Pork, Pungent Cheese, Venison
Top Notes For
David T

Independent Sommelier/Wine Educator

9.5

A night of Saxum and Booker comparisons. On the nose, bright, ripe; dark cherries, cherries, strawberries, cranberries, pomegranate, vanilla, cinnamon, red vines, crushed volcanic minerals, loamy top soil, dark Burgundian earthiness with dark red florals. The body is M with well resolved tannins. The fruits are bright; dark cherries, cherries, strawberries, cranberries & pomegranate. Vanilla, cinnamon, steeped fruit tea, red vines, cherry cola, crumbled, grey volcanic minerals, limestone chalkiness, stem inclusion, red roses, violets, cherry lifesavers, softened leather, bright red florals, brilliant fresh acidity and a long, lush, round, elegant and well polished finish. This will be even better in 2-3 years. Photos of; the James Berry Vineyard, barrel room, rock shale and Justin barrel tasting. Producer notes and history...Justin's father James was a veterinarian in a fast-growing suburb of San Diego who wanted to live in the countryside. He bought the James Berry Vineyard property when Smith was 10 years old and planted Chardonnay, because that's what he liked to drink. He sold the grapes to Fetzer and argued continually with Bobby Fetzer who wanted them farmed organically. Justin Smith does farm organically, but is not certified because he says, "my dad would keel over." James Smith still lives on the property, a few hundred yards away, and still farms a section of the vineyard for his own pleasure. But he has given over the majority of it to Justin, although that didn't happen for years. It was in the late 1980s, John Alban (Alban Vineyards) that convinced James Smith that the area in western Paso Robles was better for Rhône varieties than Chardonnay. Slowly over time, the Smiths pulled out Chardonnay and replanted to Mourvèdre, Viognier and Syrah. Justin did much of the early work. When he graduated from Cal Poly, he came back to manage the vineyard. As payment, his father gave him one block of Syrah. Justin and his college roommate Matt Trevisan started Linne Calodo winery with the fruit, making 300 cases in their first vintage. They later parted ways and Smith formed Saxum. In 2003, he built the garage winery under his house. By 2004 it was the most crowded building in the county. Villa Creek also made its wine there. At the time, they were all making about 500 cases of wine. Saxum is now well out of the garage and makes around 4500 cases give or take what conditions allow. Only a few hundred cases are not sold to their members and into marketplace, mostly in restaurants in California, New York and Chicago. Saxum's largest production wine is Broken Stones, a multi-vineyard blend that's heavily weighted towards Syrah and is a little more mineral driven. There most famous wine is the one Smith has been farming the longest, the James Berry Vineyard red blend. The stylist labels for Saxum's single vineyard wines are made by local artist Joe Kalionzes. Some change from time to time., but the Paderewski Vineyard, Joe scratched an eagle onto a rock that came from the vineyard and made a block print from it. For the Terry Hoage single vineyard wine, he painted a label and scratched some of the paint away to create a dragonfly because Terry Hoage has a big pond in his vineyard with lots of dragonflies.

A night of Saxum and Booker comparisons. On the nose, bright, ripe; dark cherries, cherries, strawberries, cranberries, pomegranate, vanilla, cinnamon, red vines, crushed volcanic minerals, loamy top soil, dark Burgundian earthiness with dark red florals. The body is M with well resolved tannins. The fruits are bright; dark cherries, cherries, strawberries, cranberries & pomegranate. Vanilla, cinnamon, steeped fruit tea, red vines, cherry cola, crumbled, grey volcanic minerals, limestone chalkiness, stem inclusion, red roses, violets, cherry lifesavers, softened leather, bright red florals, brilliant fresh acidity and a long, lush, round, elegant and well polished finish. This will be even better in 2-3 years. Photos of; the James Berry Vineyard, barrel room, rock shale and Justin barrel tasting. Producer notes and history...Justin's father James was a veterinarian in a fast-growing suburb of San Diego who wanted to live in the countryside. He bought the James Berry Vineyard property when Smith was 10 years old and planted Chardonnay, because that's what he liked to drink. He sold the grapes to Fetzer and argued continually with Bobby Fetzer who wanted them farmed organically. Justin Smith does farm organically, but is not certified because he says, "my dad would keel over." James Smith still lives on the property, a few hundred yards away, and still farms a section of the vineyard for his own pleasure. But he has given over the majority of it to Justin, although that didn't happen for years. It was in the late 1980s, John Alban (Alban Vineyards) that convinced James Smith that the area in western Paso Robles was better for Rhône varieties than Chardonnay. Slowly over time, the Smiths pulled out Chardonnay and replanted to Mourvèdre, Viognier and Syrah. Justin did much of the early work. When he graduated from Cal Poly, he came back to manage the vineyard. As payment, his father gave him one block of Syrah. Justin and his college roommate Matt Trevisan started Linne Calodo winery with the fruit, making 300 cases in their first vintage. They later parted ways and Smith formed Saxum. In 2003, he built the garage winery under his house. By 2004 it was the most crowded building in the county. Villa Creek also made its wine there. At the time, they were all making about 500 cases of wine. Saxum is now well out of the garage and makes around 4500 cases give or take what conditions allow. Only a few hundred cases are not sold to their members and into marketplace, mostly in restaurants in California, New York and Chicago. Saxum's largest production wine is Broken Stones, a multi-vineyard blend that's heavily weighted towards Syrah and is a little more mineral driven. There most famous wine is the one Smith has been farming the longest, the James Berry Vineyard red blend. The stylist labels for Saxum's single vineyard wines are made by local artist Joe Kalionzes. Some change from time to time., but the Paderewski Vineyard, Joe scratched an eagle onto a rock that came from the vineyard and made a block print from it. For the Terry Hoage single vineyard wine, he painted a label and scratched some of the paint away to create a dragonfly because Terry Hoage has a big pond in his vineyard with lots of dragonflies.

Sep 23rd, 2017
Bill Bender

En mag. Dense and chewy. The Syrah out wrestles the other grapes. Slick and well made but still quite linear now. Decant.

En mag. Dense and chewy. The Syrah out wrestles the other grapes. Slick and well made but still quite linear now. Decant.

May 28th, 2017
Michael L S

Dense core of red, blue fruits, minerality and enough acidity to keep things lively. Typical saxum in all the right ways

Dense core of red, blue fruits, minerality and enough acidity to keep things lively. Typical saxum in all the right ways

Oct 8th, 2016
Megan

Total fruit bomb. What a lovely way to spend Labor Day with friends.

Total fruit bomb. What a lovely way to spend Labor Day with friends.

Sep 8th, 2020
Joseph Barsky

2004 Vintage. 16% Alcohol. 38% Syrah, 36% Grenache, 26% Mourvèdre. En Magnum. A bit sweeter style. Also put in the decanter and went well with a sweet 49er victory!

2004 Vintage. 16% Alcohol. 38% Syrah, 36% Grenache, 26% Mourvèdre. En Magnum. A bit sweeter style. Also put in the decanter and went well with a sweet 49er victory!

Jan 12th, 2020
Laith A

Happy New Year! This 2014 Saxum James Berry is pretty amazing with notes of olive tapenade, sage, loamy stone, dark berries!!

Happy New Year! This 2014 Saxum James Berry is pretty amazing with notes of olive tapenade, sage, loamy stone, dark berries!!

Jan 2nd, 2020
Jeffrey Long

Heavy on the Grenache for a magical mouth-coating kirsch bomb. Absolutely brilliant.

Heavy on the Grenache for a magical mouth-coating kirsch bomb. Absolutely brilliant.

Feb 10th, 2019
Stephanie Horbaczewski

Delicious SuperBowl & Ribeye 🍷

Delicious SuperBowl & Ribeye 🍷

Feb 5th, 2018
Eric L.

Nice, tasty, Rhône style blend.

Nice, tasty, Rhône style blend.

Jan 13th, 2018
Ernest E Phillips

This is a delicious young Syrah blend. Justin Smith keeps knocking it out of the park!

This is a delicious young Syrah blend. Justin Smith keeps knocking it out of the park!

Jan 26th, 2017