Saxum 2018 Rocket Block, Paso Robles



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Limited new release from Saxum.

100 Points Jeb Dunnuck: "Leading off the 2018s from bottle, the perfect 2018 Rocket Block is mostly Grenache but includes 13% Mourvèdre and 11% Syrah, aged 29-30 months in mostly 300-liter barrels, plenty being new, although you wouldn’t know that by tasting this elixir. As good as any Châteauneuf du Pape or Grenache-based wine out there, it offers a brilliant array of sweet kirsch and blackberry fruits as well as white pepper, garrigue, and sandalwood. Full-bodied, ultra-pure, flawlessly balanced, and one of those wines that brings sensational richness and intensity while at the same time staying weightless and elegant, it should deliver the goods any time over the coming 15+ years"

One of California’s unquestionably superstar estates is Heather and Justin Smith’s Saxum Vineyards, and you won’t find any finer examples of Rhône variety wines anywhere in the world. The proprietors of James Berry Vineyard, located in the cooler Willow Creek District of Paso Robles, the Smiths have seen incredible changes over the past decade, and they’ve traded their small, old-fashioned, yet perfectly adequate cellar for a brand-new cave and state of the art winemaking facility. And while changes of this magnitude can often result in hiccups in either the style or quality of the wines, that’s certainly not the case here. I think the wines have never been better, and given the scores I’ve awarded in the past, that’s saying something. Today, the Smiths release multiple cuvées, and while the focus in the past might have been the estate James Berry Vineyard, the portfolio includes numerous new vineyard sources and cuvées, most focusing on single vineyards and even specific blocks inside of a vineyard. This report looks at the 2018s and 2019s, and in a nutshell, these wines epitomize what I consider greatness in wine; the ability to offer both hedonistic and intellectual pleasure; intensity and richness without heaviness or any sensation of weight; singular profiles; and the ability to improve with bottle age. In addition, the purity and precision this estate can achieve are incredible, and certainly, many estates and winemakers in Paso Robles need to be tasting these wines to understand why they’re great and what is possible from these incredible limestone soils. As a critic, it’s always a challenge to try and understand why wines show differently and why one estate can produce brilliant wines and others struggle. Given the prodigious wines the Smiths release year in and year out from different vineyards (and now even from different winemaking facilities), it’s become increasingly apparent that the quality coming from Saxum is due to the genius of Justin Smith. After being lucky enough to taste these wines every year for well over a decade now, I can say that no one in California does Rhône varieties and blends better. I’ve written this many times in the past, but I’ll say it again, this is one of the few mailing lists worth being on.

Type: Other Reds

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