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Pax Cellars, Syrah, Alder Springs 2005

Pax Cellars, Syrah, Alder Springs 2005

by Tim Elliott on November 17, 2009

Pax Cellars, Syrah, Alder Springs 2005I have blogged and podcasted several notes for Pax Cellars Syrah over the years so I was looking forward to revisiting this producer for my birthday dinner last night. The producer has been in a state of flux over the past year or so with winemaker Pax Mahle leaving in the summer of 2008 but my stock of Pax wines were produced and bottled (I assume) before these troubles began. I tasted many of these wines in barrel and blogged them for Wine Blogging Wednesday 30 almost 3 years ago now so I was wondering what had become of them. Would these wines continue to evolve and gain complexity in bottle or would the substantial fruit yield to the high alcohol?

Let me preface this review with a note about the Pax, Walker Vine Hill, Syrah from 2004 that I tasted earlier this year but have yet to blog. This wine, although brimming with fruit and complexity, was overwhelmed by it’s 15.5% alcohol leaving the resulting wine out of balance and a bit disappointing. Wine is a living beast and changes over time. I could have opened that bottle at a time when it was closed down and it could return to offer more of what I expected in the future. Then again, it could be over the hill. Such are the risks when signing up for the Pax high wire act.

What I appreciate most about these wines is the uncompromising approach Pax Mahle took. After rigorous vineyard practices, the grapes were trod under foot and fermented with native yeast. After light pressing, the wine was put in barrel where it was only racked before bottling. Such minimal practices are old school Burgundian but Pax practiced them with Rhone varieties in single vineyards in California. Syrah was his jewel. This uncompromising approach made for a fair amount of production sold on the bulk market which probably had something to do with Mr. Mahle’s departure. But in the end, what matters is in the glass.

Tasting Notes:

Pax Wine Cellars, Syrah, Alder Springs, 2005 ($55) – Opaque purple-garnet in the glass with aromas of blackberry, bacon, chaparral and black licorice. Rich and concentrated blackberry and black raspberry fruit in the mouth with white pepper and mint finishing long with firm tannins. A very well balanced and delicious New World Syrah. I would cellar for at least another 5 years or decant for 3 hours before serving.

14.2% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy this wine online
Snooth listing

  • Tyler

    What makes you think so much wine was bulked off previously?

    • Perhaps it's an urban legend but I did hear such tales from multiple sources. Since you are at the source, set us straight on the issue.


  • Tyler

    Tim, on second thought I don't believe I should have replied in the way I did. This is not the proper forum for discussing past issues and I should not have implied that you needed to be "set straight." My apologies. I'd be happy to discuss more over a glass of wine sometime though! Be well and keep enjoying!

    • Next time I'm out your way I will stop by for that glass of wine and to continue the discussion. Thanks for stopping by again…

  • Tyler

    Tim, thanks for understanding and I look forward to a visit.

  • Pax Mahle

    The real question is why would anyone imply that “so much wine” wasn’t bulked off, especially when they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about…tick tock…no more Pax name for you before long…
    Tim..Happy Birthday and I’m glad you enjoyed the wine, and for the record…many of the 2004s (due to the extreme heat) didn’t turn out as I had hoped….stop by the winery in Forestville and we can talk about what actually took place with these wines…


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