• Hommage á Raymond Trollat Encore:  2017 Pax Sonoma-Hillsides Syrah

    Hommage á Raymond Trollat Encore: 2017 Pax Sonoma-Hillsides Syrah

    Syrah shows many different sides in California, from San Diego north through Mendocino. But, one thing is understood here by all: There's no producer in the state whose passion for the variety surpasses that of Pax Mahle.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 Pax Sonoma-Hillsides Syrah for $48 per bottle, with special pricing on the Pax Experience mixed 4-pack.


    For many years Pax has worked with a wide range of Syrah vineyards in California bottled under the Pax label, as well as Wind Gap. He's become obsessed with tapping vineyards on the extreme to prove the grape can flourish in conditions many thought were far too marginal. His fascination and love of the variety can be traced back to the traditionalists of the Northern Rhone Valley, the birthplace of Syrah. Beginning in 2016 Pax chose to pay tribute to one of the legends of the old guard, Raymond Trollat of Saint Joseph.

    As one would imagine, Sonoma-Hillsides is again 100% whole cluster fermented. Sourcing comes from three vineyards Pax feels capture the essence of cooler climate hillside California Syrah. Castelli-Knight Ranch and Walker Vine Hill from Russian River Valley, and the iconic Griffin's Lair vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. Through Pax's illustrious career it's sites like these that have best expressed the fresh and vibrant personality that Syrah is capable of. His visits with Trollat and other vignerons in the Rhone have been a huge influence on his viticulture and vinification practices.

    At 12.9% the Sonoma-Hillsides cuvée exemplifies everything that's so thrilling about the more savory, spicy, and mineral-inflected qualities of Syrah. Trollat, whose vines are now farmed by Gonon, personified the soul and authenticity found in the best of Saint-Joseph. Pax, too, stands as a benchmark for what other producers in California aspire to craft, having served as a mentor to much of the younger generation of winemakers.  He has a long history with the variety here, but it's this hommage to Raymond Trollat that hit the sweet spot with me more so than any other bottling to date. This is not to be missed!
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Hommage á Raymond Trollat Encore:  2017 Pax Sonoma-Hillsides Syrah

    Hommage á Raymond Trollat Encore: 2017 Pax Sonoma-Hillsides Syrah

    Syrah shows many different sides in California, from San Diego north through Mendocino. But, one thing is understood here by all: There's no producer in the state whose passion for the variety surpasses that of Pax Mahle.

    For many years Pax has worked with a wide range of Syrah vineyards in California bottled under the Pax label, as well as Wind Gap. He's become obsessed with tapping vineyards on the extreme to prove the grape can flourish in conditions many thought were far too marginal. His fascination and love of the variety can be traced back to the traditionalists of the Northern Rhone Valley, the birthplace of Syrah. In 2016 Pax chose to pay tribute to one of the legends of the old guard, Raymond Trollat of Saint Joseph. 

    The 2016 Sonoma-Hillsides was met with, well, an enthusiasm from critics that wasn't short of praise, literally. The Vinous review can be found below without a score listed, per our custom. The 2017 marks the 2nd-ever bottling of this hommage.

    As one would imagine, Sonoma-Hillsides is again 100% whole cluster fermented. Sourcing comes from three vineyards Pax feels capture the essence of cooler climate hillside California Syrah. Castelli-Knight Ranch and Walker Vine Hill from Russian River Valley, and the iconic Griffin's Lair vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. Through Pax's illustrious career it's sites like these that have best expressed the fresh and vibrant personality that Syrah is capable of. His visits with Trollat and other vignerons in the Rhone have been a huge influence on his viticulture and vinification practices.

    At 12.9% the Sonoma-Hillsides cuvée exemplifies everything that's so thrilling about the more savory, spicy, and mineral-inflected qualities of Syrah. Trollat, whose vines are now farmed by Gonon, personified the soul and authenticity found in the best of Saint-Joseph. Pax, too, stands as a benchmark for what other producers in California aspire to craft, having served as a mentor to much of the younger generation of winemakers.  He has a long history with the variety here, but it's this hommage to Raymond Trollat that hit the sweet spot with me more so than any other bottling to date. This is not to be missed!

    Antonio Galloni's Vinous review of the last release, the 2016:

    "The 2016 Syrah Sonoma-Hillsides has been nothing less than stunning on the three occasions I have tasted it so far. A wine of extraordinary purity and depth, the 2016 dazzles from the very first taste. The richness and power are simply breathtaking. Bacon fat, smoke, grilled herb and lavender are woven into a graceful, seamless core of inky blue/purplish fruit. Even with all of its intensity, the 2016 remains remarkably light on its feet. The Sonoma-Hillsides is a blend of fruit from Castelli-Knight Ranch, Griffin's Lair and Walker Vine Hill, done with 100% whole clusters and aged in a combination of concrete and neutral oak, with no SO2. I am not sure how the 2016 will age, but I am also not sure it will matter, as most bottles will be long gone before that is an issue. Quite simply, the Sonoma-Hillsides is a total pleasure bomb and a modern-day benchmark for Syrah in California. Don't miss it!

    Posted by Alexander Rosen