Saxum Bone Rock 2016
|Region||California, Central Coast, Paso Robles|
Inky purple. Explosive, smoke- and spice-accented blueberry, cherry cola, vanilla and smoky mineral aromas show outstanding delineation and pick up an olive nuance with aeration. Sweet and expansive in the mouth, offering deeply concentrated dark berry preserve, fruitcake and violet pastille flavors along with an exotic touch of star anise. The strikingly long, penetrating finish shows vibrant, minerally cut, an echo of juicy blue fruit and pliant tannins that sneak in late and fold smoothly into the deeply concentrated fruit.
The 2016 Syrah James Berry Vineyard Bone Rock is quite different from the 2015 in composition, since it's a blend of 72% Syrah, 10% Mataro, 9% Graciano, 6% Grenache and 3% Roussanne; and while the 2015 was matured in 100% new puncheons, the 2016 is being raised in 59% new puncheons, 34% amphorae and the balance used wood. It will be another 12 months before this is bottled, but it was one of the high points of this exceptional tasting, wafting from the glass with a fragrant bouquet of wild berries, licorice, subtle grilled meat, lilac blossom and suggestions of crushed rocks (if that isn't too fanciful a description). On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, rich and layered, with deep, multidimensional core that's framed by fine-grained but youthfully firm, chewy tannins. There's a savory quality to this wine, despite its generous endowment of fruit, as well as a tension and energy that mark it out as especially promising.
A blend of 72% Syrah, 19% Mourvèdre, and the rest Grenache and Roussanne, the 2016 James Berry Vineyard Bone Rock boasts a saturated purple color as well as beautiful black and blue fruits, ground pepper, chalky minerality, and hints of chocolate. These carry to a full-bodied Syrah that has nicely balanced acidity, ripe tannins, and a great finish. This cuvée saw a lot of stems in the ferments, yet they’re incredibly well-integrated. I suspect it’s going to merit a triple-digit rating in 3-4 years and it’s another awesome wine from the genius of Justin Smith.
Richly structured and dynamic, with expressive black currant, crushed stone and smoky sweet anise elements that take on depth and polish toward refined tannins. Syrah, Mataro, Graciano, Grenache and Roussanne. Since the brand's first vintage in 2000, Saxum has set the standard for Rhône-style reds in California, with numerous appearances on Wine Spectator's Top 100 list, including the No. 1 spot in 2010 with the Saxum James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles 2007. Owner-winemaker Justin Smith (pictured at right) grew up in Paso Robles, located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and his father planted the 55-acre James Berry Vineyard in the early 1980s. The core of Saxum's production, James Berry Vineyard is about 10 miles from the Pacific, planted atop an ancient seabed scattered with fossilized shells and shark teeth. The latest James Berry Vineyard Willow Creek District 2017, a potent yet detailed blend, was previously featured in the Insider with a 95-point rating. As you can see from this collection, Smith makes wine from a range of nearby vineyards, including Booker, Paderewski and Terry Hoage. Smith uses a variety of winemaking approaches, depending on the bottling and vintage, with fermentation vessels that range from concrete to large French oak puncheons, emphasizing the unique qualities of each grape and vineyard.\