2019 Pax Wines, Pineau d’Aunis, Bearg Ranch, Fountaingrove AVA, Sonoma County.
One of the rarest red wines in California, this carbonic and spicy lighter red wine is Pax’s super geeky and limited Pineau d’Aunis, a light skinned red grape found in the Loire Valley, mostly around Touraine and Anjou, which is mainly used in blends and in the region’s Rosés. Those that love the Jura and Beaujolais will go crazy for this juicy medium bodied wine that shows a crunch of whole cluster, racy red berries, a touch of wild flowers and peppery spices with brambly raspberry, tangy plum, strawberry and a pop of orange/peach as well as cinnamon, basil, anise and a delicate earthiness that adds a nice bit of umami. Best to enjoy this one with a nice chill and friends, it is a fun, low alcohol and no pretense wine that should provide smiles and pleasure for a year or so. Pax also recently released a wine called Dazed & Carbonic, that is a crazy blend of co-fermented Syrah, Viognier 70% and 30% whole cluster, carbonic Trousseau Gris, as well as a 100% Trousseau Noir and a new dry Rosé called Roggae Rosé that is a blend of whole cluster Gamay and Pinot Noir, all of which are small lot whole cluster/carbonic fermented in tank with natural methods, being a short elevage in vat or neutral French oak.

Pax, known for incredible Syrah bottlings, in recent years has developed a fun lineup of rarities and natural style wines including Gamay, as well as old California favorites made from Mission and Charbono, along with the Jura and Savoie, Alpine inspired wines like Trousseau and Mondeuse. This new Pineau d’Aunis joins this geeky group and it is a quaffable addition that unique set, though it will not be easy to find as so little was made, but it is worth the search. Pax’s collection of unique quaffers are offered first to their wine club and I recommend joining, because these wines are so fun and very affordable. Pineau d’Aunis, which is also known as Chenin Noir, is an ancient Loire Valley grape that was much more widely planted and celebrate in the past, in fact it was hugely popular as far back as 1246, when it became a favorite of King Henry the Third of England, though it has become a rare varietal in modern times and is more of a curiosity these days. Pineau d’Aunis, as mentioned gets called Chenin Noir, however in DNA testing it has been confirmed that Pineau d’Aunis is not in fact related at all with Chenin Blanc, nor is it related to Pinot Noir, which it sometimes gets confused with. This bright ruby colored Pax Pineau d’Aunis is likely the only version of this grape in California and is set on the volcanic gravelly soils of the Bearg Ranch near Healdsburg, where Pax has his tiny plots of Gamay, Trousseau and Mondeuse.
($38 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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