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WINES BY REGION

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Saxum

The Saxum label was established in 2000 by Justin Smith, owner of the famous 'James Berry' vineyard in Paso Robles which was planted in 1981 - initially to Burgundian varieties, but later Rhone varieties were planted, with Mourvedre and Viognier in 1987, before Syrah was added with spectacular results in 1990.

Justin Smith remains primarily a grape farmer, selling much of his production from numerous sites off to other makers.  The entire estate is geologically and climatically diverse, with an array of viticultural techniques utilised to produce high-quality fruit throughout.  Much of the vineyard is planted on calcerous soils, giving the grapes lower pH than is common throughout California.

Saxum produce a number of wines, from different sites, although all based upon varying proportions of Rhone varieties.  Syrah and Mourvedre are the most important, with Grenache, Petit Syrah, Roussanne and Zinfandel playing roles in some wines.

Whilst the grapes are naturally high in alcohol - often around 16% - strict selection and sorting is employed to eliminate any over-ripe or raisened berries, and whilst oak ageing is important, Smith has moved to larger capacity formats to reduce the overt oak influence.  No acid is added, and no manipulation is employed.

The wines are uniformly extraordinary, and whilst all powerful, rich styles, in my experience they are balanced, with the alcohol not being obvious nor detracting from the wine in any way.

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