2019 Pax, Gamay Noir, Bearg Vineyard, Sonoma County.
Gamay has really taken hold in California and there’s a ton of high quality examples from which to chose and Pax’s collection are very distinctive, especially this dark ruby hued Bearg Vineyard, which I’ve been short term cellaring to allow it to show it’s true potential, it’s a nice quaffable wine, but with a sense of seriousness and plenty of rustic charm. Much like Pax’s 2018s, this aromatic 2019 has a solid backbone of fresh acidity and is finely layered with black raspberry, cherry, tangy wild strawberry and dusty plum fruits on the medium bodied palate, along with an array of spices, herbs, crushed flowers, iron/mineral notes and a light cedary element. There’s a sultry leathery element again here, with what tastes like touch of Brettanomyces, which adds a savory dryness and meatiness, keeping this wine from being a fruity, candied or bubble gummy, making this Bearg Vineyard Gamay come across very old world like and best with food. As mentioned before, I am loving the unique alternative wines being done by the talented Pax Mahle, in particular his Chenin Blanc, the Carignan, Vermentino, and even in some years Valdiguie, which is also known as Napa Gamay, and the Trousseau Gris, all of which add some contrast to his famously deep and powerful Northern Rhône style Syrah bottlings.

This Bearg Vineyard Gamay Noir 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, again reminds me of older vintages of Clos de la Roilette Fleurie and will certainly appeal to those that love a touch of funk, it’s an intriguing edition that might get a reaction, both positive and negative. 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, since then Pax Mahle turned out a fabulous selection of Gamay wines, with this Bearg Vineyard version maybe being his flagship offering. The Bearg Ranch, which is set on a steep hillside, farmed with Biodynamic methods and sustainable practices, and was grafted to Trousseau Noir, Gamay Noir, Mondeuse, Poulsard and Pineau d’Aunis back in 2016. This Sonoma County site is located in the Mayacamas Range and gets some cool mountain air that benefits the grapes here, along with its complex soils. True Gamay has come along way in California since Steve Edmonds first introduced us to his Amador County version in the 1990s, to now having it planted from the Central Coast all the way up to Oregon, and Pax’s latest, including his Alpine Peaks and Rancho Coda versions, are (being) ones to look for!
($38 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

By admin