Pax Mahle Wines Sonoma County Syrah Sonoma-Hillsides 2021 

 January 20, 2023

By  rackhouse

The sites selected for the Sonoma Hillsides blend feature blocks with intriguing hillside expositions and cool climates influenced by the coastal wind gaps of Sonoma County. These vineyards are farmed using organic, sustainable, and/or biodynamic methods and are among the most heralded sites of this region for growing Syrah. This blend typically includes wines vinified from Walker Vine Hill, Castelli-Knight Ranch, Griffins, Felix, Nellessen Vineyards, and others as needed.

Stems are what separates a classically styled Syrah from a modern Syrah. They ferment all our Syrahs 100% Whole-Cluster. In wet vintages (2010 & 2011) or a vintage with a very poor fruit set (2013) is the last time they were forced to destem a few small lots prior to fermenting and blending. Leaving the grapes on the clusters and gently crushing these whole clusters by foot creates a wine loaded with aromas and flavors achievable only by using these methods.

The process of carbonic maceration adds another dimension that elevates the Sonoma Hillsides Syrah. This anaerobic fermentation process (fermentation without oxygen contact) is known for producing bright fruity flavors in wines, resulting in a certain vibrancy that harkens back to the Old World.

They blend the components of the Sonoma Hillsides Syrah early in the year into a large concrete cubic tank. This allows the components to harmonize in a vessel that breathes less than an oak barrel and more than a stainless steel tank. This practice enables the wine to evolve slowly as all its parts synchronize to become a seamless expression.

As soon as the very first vintage of this wine was released in 2017 it began making waves in the wine community, they were honored with a 100-point score by Antonio Galloni of Vinous. As three more vintages have come and gone, this blend is becoming a reference point of its own for Syrah in the New World. Each harvest brings its own unique challenges and in 2020, plagued by wildfire smoke, they were not able to put this wine into a bottle. 2021 redeemed this disappointment in every way.

The nose is full, rich, and decadent, but lifted and vibrant, pure and clean. Violets and wet rocks highlight the layered cassis fruit with black olives, black pepper, and pomegranate pop in for an added dimension.

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