2018 Pax Malhe, Syrah, Castelli-Knight Ranch, Russian River Valley.
The 2018 Pax Castelli-Knight Syrah marks the 18th Vintage that Pax Mahle has been working with this exceptional site in the Russian River and the exceptional people that own this vineyard and farm this unique ranch. The bright orange Haire Clay soils that cling to the slopes of this vineyard allow for a retaining of freshness while also allows for a depth of flavors, that Pax describes, as other worldly for California Syrah, which is influenced by the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean. While young and remarkably fruity for a newer Pax Syrah, this 2018 Castelli-Knght bursts from the glass with loads of blue and black fruits, dark flowers, minty herbs and loads of spice and on the palate things start off very primary, but it opens up to reveal classic layers of boysenberry, blueberry, sweet kirsch, plum and creme de cassis, along with peppercorns, subtle iron mineral notes, whole bunch crunch and anise. I think I should have waited another few years on this one, but it certainly has lots of appeal, especially with food.

The Castelli-Knight Ranch Russian River Syrah is 100% varietal, 100% whole cluster, 100% indigenous yeast and 100% aged in used 500L French oak puncheons for eleven months, with foot trodden bunches and exceptionally low sulfur, all to be as natural and as pure as possible. Pax says, of his Castelli-Knight Ranch Syrah, that it is rich but balanced, flavorful without being too heavy and of course all the while tasting like Syrah grown on a steep hillside, adding that it is also, very enjoyable and approachable on release, though intense enough to be guaranteed to improve with cellar like every other Castelli-Knight Ranch before it. Pax, rumor has it has it, with a partner, purchased the Halcon Vineyard in the Yorkville Highlands, which in my opinion might just be the most interesting site for Syrah in California, most notably for lovers of Cornas and Cote-Rotie wines and I am excited to see what Mahle’s talents will bring to this spectacular vineyard. I am a huge fan of Pax’s Alder Springs Syrah bottling, and it remains one of my favorite Syrahs in California, though this Castelli-Knight isn’t too far behind, it is a good time to invest in the state’s best Syrah wines, and Pax’s are firmly on the list of must haves.
($60 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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