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Saxum Vineyards Tour With Justin Smith

Arriving at theSaxum Vineyards & Winery, I was greeted by their adorable dog. Honestly, Im such a sucker for Golden Retrievers and labs since I grew up with them as a child.

About Saxum Vineyards

For those of you unfamiliar with Saxum Vineyards, listen up and get to know them. Right now, they are the most highly acclaimed Winery in Paso Robles focusing on producing;Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre based blends from the Willow Creek District;of Paso Robles.

What is their winemaking style? Described best by the Saxum team, We let our rocky calcareous soils, steep hillsides, sunny days, and cooling ocean breezes speak through our wines by keeping our yields low, picking the fruit at the peak of ripeness, and using a minimalist approach in the cellar. We respect our land and farm everything sustainably without chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Because our vines roots penetrate deep through the fissures in the calcareous soil irrigation is rarely needed.

Finally, their total annual production is approximately;4000-5000 cases a year, divided between seven different cuvees, Broken Stones, James Berry Vineyard, Bone Rock, Booker Vineyard, Paderewski Vineyard, Heart Stone Vineyard, and Terry Hoage Vineyard.

Saxum Vineyards Cave Tour

Entering the caves. Even the caves are beautiful with the various barrels, concrete eggs

Apparently, Justin and his team have quite a sense of humor. For example, check out;the;Woody Woodpecker Barrel. Love it!

This cave is quite gorgeous. Firstly, I love all the details in the stonework. Theres the;back exterior wall, which has original stone intact, and also a beautiful arch that divides the cave. So, not only is there a larger cave, but also;a smaller, more intimate area where Justin stores his wines.

Me and Justin tasting together.

A Tour Of The Barrels

Take a look at the cool chalk drawing on the barrel. Most of the barrels had this, back to the great sense of humor and cool style Justin and the Saxum team have. Its awesome.;

Tasting some samples fresh out of the barrel. What a treat! This was my first time ever tasting Saxum and I have to say, a barrel tasting is quite spectacular. I got to see and taste it;before being bottled and shared with everyone else. These wines were lovely. As expected with Rhone varietals they are quite heavy with amazing dark fruit, complex flavors, and perfect balance.

After 7 barrel tastings, Justin was still smiling and sharing tons of information, even answering my many questions. Truthfully, I can say hes the most friendly, approachable winemaker I have ever met. Seriously, for being the most acclaimed winery in Paso Robles, you would think hed have a bit of an ego; but, hes the opposite. Instead, hes nice, chill, down to earth, and happy to share his incredible wines and knowledge with visitors like myself.

  • Linda snd AGUSTIN Uranga

    March 30, 2019

    I would love to visit the winery , I am member , and am up here on in Oso till the 1st if spt AMY chacd on Sunday estlg Monday

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Saxum James Berry Vineyard Named Wine Of The Year

Welcome to the world of the Internet, where secrets are hard to keep and spoilers lurk behind every computer screen.

Interest in Wine Spectators Top 100 is so intense that one motivated wine lover breached our website, found out the top five wines of the year and posted the information on several wine sites. So in fairness to all our loyal readers and the community of wine lovers in general, we are advancing the official announcement of these wines by two days.

The Saxum James Berry Paso Robles 2007 is a distinctive blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah made by Justin Smith, a young and talented rising star in Californias Paso Robles region. For this wines classic quality and reasonable price, and its testimony that Paso Robles has earned its place on the worlds wine map, Wine Spectator has selected it as our Wine of the Year for 2010.

For more information about this wine, and to learn about the wines that earned the rankings just behind it, please view our full Top 100 package.

While this completes the countdown of the Top 10 wines of 2010, there are 90 more to come. A full list of the entire Top 100 will be posted on Monday, Nov. 22, at 10 a.m.

Saxum 44 Month Barrel Age James Berry Vineyard Usa California Paso Robles Wine Review

Saxum G2 Vineyard 2017

This was an experiment Justin Smith did back in 2005.; He let the wine stay in barrels for 44 months before bottling it.; This extended ageing as it is called is interesting.; One might think the wine would be ready earlier but conversely, it seems to take even longer for the wines to be ready to drink.; This one is now in a great place and if you have one, consider popping the cork.; A GSM blend, but mostly Syrah.; Purple in color.; The nose is great with black raspberries, iodine, decayed meats, leather, slight bacon fat and an earthy/musk.; On the palate, this has a wonderful lightness about it.; It is full bodied and a huge wine, but it dances across the palate.; Plenty of fruit; black raspberries, black cherries and slight liqueur along with; an underlying earthiness.; Light tannins.; Worked with with spicy food.; Long finish.; Complex and deep but delicious.;;

July 15th, 2008Written by Suzanne Reifers…May 12th, 2008Written by Suzanne Reifers…October 05th, 2014Written by Loren Sonkin

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Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard Usa California Paso Robles Wine Review

Saxum did quite well with their 2011’s, a difficult and cooler vintage than most.; Inky purple in color.; The nose is great with black raspberries, slight roasted herbs, white pepper and roasted meat.; On the palate, this is full bodied with a nice texture.; Pure black raspberry fruit.; Deep but opens in the glass.; Normally, I think ten years is about right to wait but this one is a bit ahead of that.; Getting closer to peak.; Great acidity.; Long finish.; Works with food or delicious on its own.; Really a great Syrah.;;

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January 07th, 2017Written by Loren Sonkin

Inky purple in color.; The nose has boysenberries, black pepper and slight bacon fat.; On the palate, this is not as boisterous as other vintages.; Still, nothing under ripe or green.; Boysenberries layered with damp earth and char.; Lovely texture.; Long finish.; This worked well with food or on its own.; Saxum did an excellent job with the difficult 2011 vintage.; This seems to be drinking a bit earlier than is typical although it is still young.;;

October 05th, 2014Written by Loren SonkinMay 12th, 2008Written by Suzanne Reifers…

Featured Winemaker: Justin Smith Of Saxum

California winegrower Justin Smith dazzled the audience not just with his terrific Saxum James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles 2011 , but with a heartfelt presentation full of family photographs and personal stories.

Smith grew up in Paso Robles after his father left a San Diego veterinary practice to become a grapegrower. The family sold grapes to other vintners, but Smith said he was “disheartened” to see their hard work go away after every harvest, so he became a winemaker.

Since then, Pasohalfway between San Francisco and Los Angeleshas blossomed into one of California’s fastest-growing wine regions. Smith said the secret to the area’s success is the distinctive limestone soils, which help the grapes retain some acidity even when they are ripe.

Saxum’s name comes from his family’s tradition of giving out rock-related names. His father is nicknamed “Pebble” and his siblings are Brick, Rocky and Sandy. Smith decided to give rock names to his wines and vineyards, not his children. Saxum is Latin for “stone.” His Bone Rock Vineyard refers to the whale bones found in the soil.

The 2011 vintage was cool, and the grapes were picked late. Though not typical of the ripeness usually found in Saxum wines, the James Berry bottling typifies the vintage, Smith said. “We want to let the vintage show. In cooler years, it means letting the elegant side show.”

Saxum James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles 2011

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Saxum Terry Hoage Vineyard Usa California Paso Robles Wine Review

This is a blend of 50% Syrah, 34% Grenache, 16% Mourvedre checking in at 15.7% ABV.; Inky purple in color, opaque and bright.; The nose is great with black raspberries, plums, black pepper, slight roasted herbs and meats and a bit of violets.; Full bodied.; Great lush texture but with lively acidity.; So easy to drink with no noticeable alcohol on the nose or palate.; Black raspberries over roasted earth with some herbs.; Long finish.; This is young but accessible.; It should continue to improve over the next three to seven years and drink well for another ten to fifteen after that.; It drinks well on its own and worked very well with chocolate cake.; It would also work with roasted or grilled meats.;;

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May 12th, 2008Written by Suzanne Reifers…July 15th, 2008Written by Suzanne Reifers…

Saxum Vineyards Broken Stones Syrah Paso Robles California

Since the age of 10, Justin Smith has been growing grapes in the same place in Paso Robles. At that tender young age he was planting grapes on the hillsides and ridges that his family still farms today. He has lived his life on this hard calcerous soil, kicking his feet in the dry dust, and unearthing his share of ancient petrified whale bones from the cement, hard ground, sometimes with the aid of a jackhammer.

Wine was in his blood, you might say. Justin, still very young by nearly anyones standards, started Linne Calodo Cellars in 1997 with a friend, but after five years left to start his own label, Saxum Vineyards in 2002. By all accounts he has had a blockbuster beginning. With Wine Enthusiast and Robert Parker scores ranging from 93 to 95 for his initial wines produced from family vineyards, Justin has already made a name for himself and quickly sold out of his small lots of wine .

Smith uses what he calls minimal techniques, that amount to non-interventional winemaking. Other than his proud use of one of the only handcrafted Hypac basket presses used anywhere outside of Australia Smith does nearly everything by hand. He uses no filtering, no fining, just a lot of maceration, and then into the barrel to let the wine take care of itself.

This particular wine is 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache. The fruit comes from three different vineyards: Denner, Heartstone, and James Berry Vineyard, all of which share the proliferation of broken rock that gives the wine its name.

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Great California Wines Without Homes

Cabernet grapes

A friend of mine has the best pickup line: “I own a winery.” As the last syllable rolls off his tongue, the woman to whom he’s speaking undergoes a scientifically undocumented physical transformation in which her knee joints abruptly become wobbly Jell-O. If only his claim were true.

Let me be clear: My friend does own a successful wine brand. And his wines are truly outstanding, regularly notching high scores from the critics and sellouts in each vintage. But he does not own an actual, physical winery or even vineyards. Instead he leases small portions of several prestigious vineyard properties, and his wines are made under contract at a large winery at which he leases a small corner of the facility. And I’d go so far as to argue that his wines and several others that either rent space at a larger winery or use a custom winemaking facility taste better as a result.

Of course, this is just cocktail-napkin math. If you don’t own a winery or vineyards, however, you keep something very important: cash. And with that cash you can lock down long-term leases on higher-quality vineyards, and also have the ability to market your products.

In fact, if you look at some of California’s most prestigious and collectable wines, nearly all started out owning no vineyard land or a winery Sine Qua Non, Screaming Eagle, you name it. Why? “You can invest more in the wine itself than in a building,” my friend says.

Arietta

Evening Land Vineyards

Au Sommet

Scarecrow

Saxum Paderewski Vineyard Usa California Paso Robles Wine Review

Normally, its better to let Saxum’s wait ten years from vintage to really get the best but the Paderewski is a different animal.; It is 34% Mourvedre, 33% Zinfandel, 13% Petite Sirah, 12% Syrah and 8% Tempranillo.; Because of that it changes as it ages with the Zin showing more in its youth and fading a bit back with time.; This bottle was beautiful.; Purple in color.; The nose is deep and intoxicating with black cherries, roasted meats, leather, black raspberries, black pepper and cherries.; On the palate, this has a lush chewy texture.; Delicious.; Lots of fruit right now with black cherries, black raspberries and plums dominating.; An underlying leathery/earthy quality.; Great balance.; Long finish.; Almost seamless in its presentation.; Big grilled or roasted foods would work well with this.; While it drinks well right now, it may still improve.; It will certainly continue to morph over time.; Saxum continues to show why its one of the best wineries in the world.;;

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July 15th, 2008Written by Suzanne Reifers…May 12th, 2008Written by Suzanne Reifers…October 05th, 2014Written by Loren Sonkin

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Saxum Paderewski Vineyard Usa California Paso Robles Willow Creek Wine Review

From Magnum.; This is a blend of 30% Mourvedre, 22% Zinfandel, 13% Syrah, 13% Tempranillo, 12% Grenache, and 10% Petite Sirah.; The bottle was opened for air for around 24 hours prior to serving.; Drank over two nights, it was consistent both nights.; Inky purple in color, opaque and bright.; The nose has black cherries, plums, black raspberries, cherries, gravel, black pepper and floral notes.; Crazy good and complex.; Full bodied and full throttle.; On the palate, all of those purple and red fruits seem to come out with underlying minerality and gravel.; Juicy acidity.; 15.9% ABV but no sign of it.; This has high energy and dances across the palate without being weighty.; Delicious.; Long finish.; This is still drinking young in this format.; I would still plan on drinking this over the next ten to twelve years to enjoy the show.; It drinks great on its own and will take big food to stand up to it.; Perhaps spicy Indian food or something off the grill.;;

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July 15th, 2008Written by Suzanne Reifers…May 12th, 2008Written by Suzanne Reifers…October 05th, 2014Written by Loren SonkinMay 12th, 2008Written by Brad Prescott

Inspiring New Wines From Saxum

Saxum Rocket Block Paso Robles 2017

Saxum has a new-look label, with wood block prints. But more importantly, the new releases are its best wines ever.Aside from winemaker Justin Smiths personal achievements, which are momentous, his wines are vital to his hometown of Paso Robles because they show what can be accomplished in this still new and evolving appellation.Last week I tasted all five of Smiths Rhône Valley-inspired reds and for me these are the best wines hes made, period.The Saxum style is still the same. The reds, blends of Syrah, Grenache, Mouvèdre, are bold, ripe, opulent and high in alcohol. Yet the 2005s exhibits greater finesse, elegance, restraint and detail, all part of a conscious effort by Smith to draw on lessons from the past.For one, he says, Im not trying to make super big and powerful. Weve dialed in on the vineyard, were not picking as ripe, but still getting ripe flavors and were aiming for more finesse ripeness without excess purity and freshness. He has also backed off on wood, aging his wines in 116 gallon puncheons, rather than smaller oak barrels.While his 2002 and 2001 James Berry Vineyard bottlings earned 93-point ratings, and were rich, potent wines, the 2002 and 2003 wines pursued ripeness too far for me, straying into racy sweet-sour berry flavors. Then having seen how his early wines aged, Smith began to tinker with the wines, and the 2004s were better balanced.

Following are my impressions of the 2005s.

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These 5 Paso Robles Wines Rank Among Best In The World

Napa Valley wines receive plenty of plaudits. Sonoma County product is firmly established among oenophiles and gets its fair share of praise too. But when five Paso Robles wines rank among the top 26 offerings in the entire world, that’s newsworthy.

Wine Spectatormagazine, one of the most trusted brands in the business, clearly saw something special coming out of the Central Coast wine region this year, naming these five bottles to the upper tiers of its 2017 Top 100 list.

No. 26: 2015 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc Paso Robles

To put the above rankings in perspective, this unassuming San Luis Obispo County wine region landed more wines in the top tier than Italy, Spain, and Washington state. France barely edged out Paso Robles with six bottles in the top quarter of the list.

What in the wide world of wine is going on here?

âPaso Robles is one of the most exciting wine regions in California and itâs just getting started,” according to Wine Spectator Senior Editor Tim Fish. “The region caught our eye in 2010 when Saxum won Wine of the Year for its James Berry Vineyard 2007, which earned 98 points in our official blind tastings. The five wines in the 2017 Top 100 are an acknowledgement of Paso Robles and its achievements. More significantly, all five wines are outstanding.”

The #26 wine on the list, Tablas Creek’s 2015 Patelin de Tablas Blanc Paso Robles, is also a Rhone blendâGrenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanneâand retails for $25.

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