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The May 2022 Auction: Part 3

Auction # 711 | View Auction Schedule and Details
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Auction Ends: 5/19/2022 6:00:00 PM PDT
Time Left to Bid: 1 day, 4 hours, 23 minutes, 31 seconds

Lot #756. Saxum Grenache James Berry Vineyard Rocket Block 2015

Description: Consists of 1 Magnum, 1.5L
Score: 98 WA.
"The 2015 Rocket Block James Berry Vineyard—which had been assembled in preparation for its bottling in two weeks' time—is superb, revealing complex aromas of cherry, raspberries and spice. On the palate, it's full-bodied, textural and bright, with an expansive core of juicy, succulent fruit framed by fine-grained structuring tannins. This rendition of Rocket Block—from a cooler, northeast-exposed parcel—is one of the most elegant, vibrant wines in the Saxum cellar, exemplifying not only Smith's evolution as a winemaker but also what's possible in Paso Robles. The final blend is 89% Grenache and 11% Mourvèdre, matured in concrete and neutral oak . . . . Success sometimes breeds complacency, but that's emphatically not the case for Justin Smith, whose status as Paso Roble's most celebrated winemaker has done nothing to dim his urge to experiment, evolve and improve. Without sacrificing any of their power and authority, both of which come easily in this warm climate, Smith's Saxum wines continue to gain in structural refinement, energy, integration and incipient complexity with every passing vintage. Since the end of the last decade, Smith has been experimenting with whole cluster, a technique he tends to employ in cooler sites and vintages, since extracting excessive stem tannins is a danger in riper, warmer years. Fermentations are cooler and slower, which helps to manage extraction. While new oak was once an important influence in the Saxum wines, its presence is more and more subtle: Smith now works with puncheons instead of smaller barrels, and they're complemented by amphorae and foudres. Since 2010, he has employed Roussanne for co-fermentations with Syrah in the place of Viognier, since it brings less additional power and alcohol. He also continues to refine and adapt his blends from year to year. Smith's new cellar now means he has the space necessary to mature wines for longer. Today's Saxum wines are accordingly better than ever. The only problem is finding them: I signed up for the mailing list in 2011, and Smith informs me that the current wait is around eight years." Wine Advocate Interim, May 2018
Provenance: The Mode Cellar
Lot Location: Orange County
Estimate: $225

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