2015 Pax, Grenache-Syrah “The Vicar” North Coast, California.
The Vicar is Pax’s Grenache driven nod to the rustic wines of the southern Rhone Valley. It’s a sexy and seductive blend of excellent vineyard sites coming from the Russian River Valey and Mendocino County. It’s 60% Alder Springs Vineyard Grenache, 35% Castelli-Knight Ranch Grenache and 5% Castelli-Knight Ranch Syrah, and all these vineyards are sustainably or organically farmed. Pax went 100% Whole-Cluster with spicy and savor stemmy notes adding complexity. Again with the Southern Rhone in mind this Vicar is aged in a combination of concrete vat/tank & 500L neutral French Oak Puncheons for 18 months, with absolutely new wood. This 2015 came in at 13.7% natural alcohol, making for a wine that feels more high elevation Gigondas rather than the high alcohol and riper modern Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and the slightly higher tone gives a more balanced impression, while still having the Grenache density and hedonism.
This 2015 Pax Vicar with its co-fermented bit of Syrah, as Pax notes, helps give a dark spicy dark element, but really this wine is all about the wild side of Grenache. This vintage of the Vicar shows rich textural layers of red raspberry, plum and pomegranate along with a tangy/juicy kirsch note on the medium/full palate as well as a dark floral perfume, a touch of cedar, minty herb, lavender, faint roasted coffee bean and anise. Even though a warm year and ripe fruit, there is a remarkable sense of elegance and balance in the Vicar, and as much as I love Pax’s awesome Syrah wines, this wine has stolen my heart, Grenache freaks do not want to miss this one. At this moment Pax still some of this Vicar available, and also check out his carbonic Carignan from the Testa Vineyard, it’s so quaffable and fun, plus Pax’s stylish Chenin Blanc, so it’s a good time to check out this winery.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive