1º . Saxum James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles 2007
In 1998, when 28-year-old Justin Smith started making wine in Paso Robles, it was a sleepy Central Coast area. Now the wine region is one of California’s fastest-growing. West Paso has a magical combination of rocky limestone soils, rolling hillsides and a not-too-cool climate that gives red Rhône varieties a firm structure to frame their rich, dark berry flavors.
Smith, who owns the 3,000-case Saxum winery with his wife, Heather, creates wines of distinctive character, depth and personality. In 2007, a near-perfect vintage, Saxum’s wines reached new heights. The 2007 James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah from a vineyard named after Smith’s father. The three varieties are aged 20 months in new and used barriques and large puncheons, to emphasize fruit purity. With its classic quality and reasonable price, this wine is a testament that Paso Robles has earned its place on the world stage.