2018 Pax, Gamay Noir, Sonoma Coast.
The latest release Gamay from Pax is an old world and austere bottling with a meaty and with a raw earthiness, it is less fruit driven the the past two releases, though still appeals for the natural style and goes well with rustic cuisine. The 2018 has a background of fresh acidity and is layered with black raspberry, cherry, tangy wild strawberry and dusty plum fruits along with an array of spices, herbs, crushed flowers, iron/mineral notes and a light cedary element, along with what tastes like touch of Brettanomyces, which adds a savory dryness to this vintage. Those looking for a light and fruity wine best look to Pax’s delightful Valdiguie, one of my secret favs in Mahle’s lineup, and Carignan bottlings, as this Gamay has a more seriousness about it and is slightly natty in form. Air brings out a touch more body and length in this lightly tannic and crisp Gamay, it fills out to a medium bodied red that is best served with a bit of a chill and with food that will coax more fruit out, with burgers, duck confit and or sleep (hard) cheeses. I am loving the unique alternative wines being done by the talented Pax Mahle, in particular his Chenin Blanc, the mentioned Carignan and Valdiguie bottlings, the Trousseau Gris as well as his Rhone blend, The Vicar.
Pax, most known for outstanding Syrah, was the first winery to produce and release a Gamay Noir from the cool climate Sonoma Coast region, not too long ago, starting with a tiny batch he did in 2015, a wine I didn’t get to try. I did however did try and love both with 2016 and 2017 versions, as they were more widely released, though as this 2018, are limited and hard to find. The Pax Gamay is sourced from a set sustainably farmed in vineyards Pax had used to make his ultra cool climate Wind Gap wines, which was folded back into the Pax label, set on marine sedimentary soils and cooled by breezy conditions influenced by the Pacific Ocean. This Gamay was crafted using traditional methods, similar to Cru Beaujolais, with 100% whole cluster fermentation and partial carbonic maceration with the wine getting close to 10 months in used French oak barrels with almost no sulphur added. This vintage reminds me of older vintages of Clos de la Roilette Fleurie and will certainly appeal to those that love the funk, it’s an intriguing edition that might get a reaction, both positive and negative, I think I might suggest drinking it sooner v. later. Be sure to check out all of the classic Syrah(s) here, plus Pax’s unique collection of other cool stuff.
($40 Est.) 89 Points, grapelive