Simply put, the 2009 James Berry Vineyard is one of the greatest young wines I have ever tasted from California, or anywhere for that matter. Bright, floral aromatics lead to expressive red fruit in this impossibly elegant, dazzling wine. A melange of rose petals, mint and licorice follows as the James Berry shows off its breathtaking clarity and finesse. Fine-grained, chalky tannins frame the exceptional finish. Frankly, I am surprised this is the first wine of the tasting. Where does one go from here? (AG)
Sporting a vibrant ruby, semi-opaque color, the 2010 Saxum James Berry Vineyard is the most tight, backwards version of this cuvee that I can recall. A blend of 52% Grenache, 26% Mourvedre, and 22% Syrah, it has a decidedly savory bouquet of blackberry liqueur, kirsch, violets, bouquet garni, ground pepper, and graphite. Full-bodied and layered on the palate, with brilliant mid-palate concentration, superb freshness, and masses of tannin, this brilliant Rhône blend from Paso Robles will stand toe to toe with the best wines out there, but it is not for those seeking instant gratification and will require 4-5 years of bottle age. In 2010, the Grenache component was aged in a combination of concrete tank and oak puncheons, and this change shows in both the aromatics and texture, with less obvious sweetness and more freshness. It will evolve gracefully for two decades.
Beautiful aromas of violets and sandalwood. Bright fruit too, with citrus, zest and mineral notes. Full, yet compacted and dense. Long and spicy yet minerally and fruity. Warm finish. So wonderful now but will age beautifully. Amazing elegance.
Strikingly complex, rich and fruity, this beautifully proportioned red delivers an initial burst of red berry fruit that echoes red and black licorice. This quickly gains traction and depth, with firm, layered tannins that give the spicy berry flavors a perfect foundation. *Top 100 Wines of 2012, Highly Recommended* (JL)
Deep, bright violet. Intensely perfumed black raspberry and blueberry on the nose, with seductive Asian spice, lavender and incense qualities emerging with air. Sappy red and dark berry liqueur flavors are lifted by juicy acidity picking up suave spice and floral pastille notes on the back end. Velvety tannins provide shape but are absorbed by the lush fruit, which carries through an extremely long, sappy, incisive finish. (JR)
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