2018 Pax "Hillsides" Syrah, Sonoma County
Without a doubt, Pax is at the vanguard of the new wave of American producers looking to make refreshing, complex wines from often-times overlooked grapes from amazing cool-climate sites. For me, Pax Mahle is the reference point for what is possible in American-made Syrah, crafting his wines as an homage to both the Northern Rhone (the spiritual home of the grape) and the undeniable California sunshine. Hillsides was crafted as a nod to the wines of St Joseph. The 2016 was perhaps the vintage that launched Pax to the status of a cult wine producer, but the 2018 according to Pax himself is the greatest wine he has ever made.
"The Sonoma Hillsides label was designed by Pax to honor one of his heroes in the Rhone Valley. During a visit with the retired Raymond Trollat, Pax brought up a winemaker named Michal Clotaire who paid homage to Raymond by using a direct copy of Raymonds distictive and classic label on his St Joseph and Beaujolais bottlings. The conversation turned to how much Pax wanted to do something similar and Raymond immediately gave his blessing and in fact took Pax down under the house into the earthen floored cellar and, to Pax’s great astonishment, grabbed a large stack of leftover Trollat St Joseph labels (this would be a good time to point out that Pax’s French is horrendous).
The Pax Sonoma Hillsides label is not a direct copy of the Trollat label, but it is meant to honor the past and look to the future of Syrah. Raymond Trollat was a traditionalist with his handling of Syrah and what he accomplished in the hills above St-Jean-de-Muzols, just outside of Tournon, in the northern Rhone Valley of France, continues to inspire how we think about putting the blend together for this wine.
Vivid Violet hues sparkle in the reflections of this brilliant wine. Aromatically perfect in terms of pure Syrah distinction and purity with all that black pepper, violet and roasted plum. You won’t find any new oak aromas or flavors, just mineral laced fruit, spice and earth harmonizing into a pleasing Syrah elixir. Supple and seamless with teases of chocolate covered cherries, violet candy, coastal forest air, brown figs and ripe plum pie. We drink this wine often and when we do, we serve it at 55 degrees, especially in the summer. You should make an effort to do both of these things as well." -- Winery