I had previously reviewed the 2008 Saxum James Berry Vineyard from a tasting at the winery, so it was enlightening to get to sit down, and drink through a full bottle. A blend of 52% Grenache, 31% Mourvèdre, and 17% Syrah, aged for 19 months in puncheons and smaller barrels, it presents an unabashedly Californian profile that oozes sweet fruit and flesh, but balances it with a seamless, weightless texture and perfect balance. Notes of sweet crème de cassis, raspberry, smoked meats, and flowers all soar from the glass and are followed by a powerful, yet polished wine that carries loads of perfectly ripe, sweet fruit, good acidity, gorgeous depth, and a blockbuster finish. Profound, and a joy to drink, this should easily evolve for 4-6 years, and perform brilliantly for 2 decades.
The 2008 James Berry Vineyard (52% Grenache, 31% Mourvedre, and 17% Syrah) saw some of its Grenache aged in the concrete eggs that are now catching on among some of the top producers on California’s Central Coast. With strong minerality from the limestone soil, this exuberant, fleshy, full-bodied wine is already drinking well. (I believe it was actually bottled just a day or two before my visit, which makes its performance that much more remarkable.) Dense purple, with sweet notes of barbecue smoke and meats as well as roasted herbs, extravagant black cherry, black currant, and blackberry fruit are all present in this wine, but there is plenty of underlying structure that comes from both the minerality and the Mourvedre component. Pure, full-bodied, but again, impressively elegant and nuanced, this is a tour de force and another prodigious example of this extraordinary vineyard site. (RP)
Riveting aromas of fresh raspberry, mineral, wilted rose and wild berry turn firm and spicy, full-bodied and concentrated on the finish, yet the flavors dance with acidity. The purity of the crushed rock and snappy berry flavors is rivaled by the elegance and finesse evident in the texture, balance and length. Ends with a subtle touch of toasty oak and black licorice. Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Drink now through 2024. *Collectibles - Top 100 Wines of 2011* (JL)
Glass-staining ruby. A drop-dead bouquet displays red and dark berry preserves, potpourri, incense and smoky minerals. Sweet, sappy and penetrating, with open-knit raspberry and blackberry flavors complemented by notes of candied rose and violet. The palate-staining finish is broad, spicy and extremely persistent. This wine is approachable now but really deserves a good five more years of age. (JR) 95+
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2013 Solomon Hills "Solomon Hills Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay (Previously $40)