Saxum Vineyards

Justin Smith, Photo by Lawrence K. Ho for LATimes

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Country of Origin: USA
Location: Willow Creek District, Paso Robles
People: Justin & Heather Smith, Owner | Justin Smith, Winemaker
Viticulture: Practicing Organic

Items

Saxum Vineyards 2017 'The Hexe' Red Blend, Paso Robles Login WA 94 AG 98 JD 99 Please inquire
Saxum Vineyards 2018 'Broken Stones' Rhone Blend, Paso Robles Login WA 95 AG 98 JD 98 Please inquire
Saxum Vineyards 2018 Terry Hoage Vineyard, Paso Robles Login WA 95 AG 96 JD 96 Please inquire



Social Media
Saxum Facebook
Instagram: @saxumvineyards

Media Links
The Orange County Register: Paso Robles' Saxum Digs Deep in Quest for Quality
Wine Spectator: Featured Winemaker: Justin Smith of Saxum
Wine Business.com: Justin Smith to be Honored as the 2013 Paso Robles Wine Industry Person of the Year
Stolpman Vineyard Wine Journal: Research Trip: Justin Smith of Saxum
Wine-Searcher: Saxum's Justin Smith Keeps Paso Robles Cool
Alister & Paine: 2010 James Berry from Saxum Vineyards
A Long Pour: The Princes of West Paso {Matt Trevisan & Justin Smith}
A Long Pour: Saxum {Deeper Roots}

Justin Smith is one of Paso Robles’ superstars. His Saxum wines have achieved great fame and amassed a cult following.

Saxum Vineyards is focused on producing Rhone inspired red blends from the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles. Production is kept to 4,000-5,000 cases a year divided between seven different cuvees: Broken Stones, James Berry Vineyard, Bone Rock, Booker Vineyards, Paderewski Vineyard, Heart Stone Vineyard and Terry Hoage Vineyard. Most of the cuvees are sourced from Justin’s estate James Berry Vineyard. The James Berry Vineyard is an exceptional hillside site planted in pure white limestone and fossilized shells; it is a site that provides extraordinary richness, minerality, precision, and individuality. It is located 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean with an average elevation of 1,200 feet. The cooling ocean breezes help the grapes maintain acidity. Rocket Block, Bone Rock, Broken Stones and James Berry Vineyard wines all come from this site. The Heart Stone Vineyard is a separate vineyard within the estate.

Justin Smith farms all of his vineyards with organic principles. He does not use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Irrigation is rarely needed as his vines’ roots penetrate deeply through the soil. Everything is done by hand, and yields are kept naturally low from the rock soils and extensive thinning. In the cellar, Justin takes a minimalist approach. Saxum’s wines are never racked off their lees and are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Vinous 11/2017
"Justin Smith, whose wines have probably brought more attention to Paso Robles than any others, is also one of the most respected growers in the region. The vineyards he farms, both his own and those of a handful of selected clients, are well worth visiting if one can finagle an appointment. The key to success in a hot dry year like 2015, and in every vintage in the area, he says, “is to be willing to drop fruit that’s raisined and suck up the loss, even when it’s a short year.” Smith’s 2015s were standouts in my tastings during my July visit and also back in the office in October, when I had the chance to re-visit those wines which were still awaiting bottling in the summer. They’re going to be long-lived wines based on their sheer concentration, I’m sure, and if you can’t resist trying them now by all means give them a lot of air!"


Wine Advocate 8/30/2016
"One of the superstars in California is undoubtedly the humble, soft spoken, yet incredibly talented Justin Smith, who has had the reins at Saxum since 2000. And while a lot of winemakers would have been content to stick with the tried and true at this point, Smith continues to question, experiment and fine tune everything he does. Today, his wines are much more finesse oriented, pure and graceful than in the past, without sacrificing texture, concentration or richness. In short, these wines kick ass and shouldn't be missed by any serious wine lover out there!"


Vinous 9/2016
"Justin Smith has just begun settling into his new, expansive cellar, a series of connected tunnels burrowed out of the hill beneath his old winery and home that is equipped with a variety of concrete and wooden vats and barrels of varying sizes. Smith told me that he's now able to adapt his winemaking to whatever conditions nature hands him. Unsurprisingly, this was one of the finest sets of wines that I tasted during my trip this summer. A look through barrels and tanks of Smith's soon-to-be-bottled 2014s and infant 2015s indicated that Saxum's winning streak shows no sign of letting up. Too bad that there simply won't be much wine to go around. Incidentally, while these will never be inexpensive wines, I find that prices are extremely fair given the sheer quality of the wines, and the fact that they are among California's most sought-after bottlings."


Wine Advocate 8/27/2015
Needing no introduction for anyone that’s followed the Wine Advocate or the wine scene in Paso Robles for any time in the past decade, Heather and Justin Smith’s Saxum Vineyards continues to fashion sensational, world-class wines from a number of top sites on the west side of Paso Robles.


Vinous 7/2014
"Every region has its leaders, Justin Smith has been at the forefront in Paso for a number of years. In addition to his own vineyards and wines, first Linne Calodo and now at Saxum, Smith has played a pivotal role in developing Booker, Terry Hoage, Epoch and other properties in the area. Smith has also taken some of Paso's younger winemakers under his wine. Even with all of the accolades he has rightly received, Justin Smith remains one of the most down-to-earth, easygoing people you will ever meet, and that is as important an achievement as anything else."


Wine Advocate 8/2013
"Proprietor Justin Smith continues to fashion some of the most distinctive and impressive efforts coming out of California today and despite an ever increasing level of notoriety and well deserved praise, he remains incredibly humble and down to earth. While the cooler nature of the 2010 and 2011 vintages show in the wine, there’s been a trend here to pull back slightly on the ripeness and oak regime, with an increasing reliance on concrete, whole cluster and larger format barrels. These cooler vintages have also favored the Syrah heavy blends in the lineup, with the Broken Stones, Booker and Bone Rock showing an added dimension. Nevertheless, you can’t go wrong here and this is one mailing list you do not want to miss!"

Reviews

  • Saxum 2017 'The Hexe' Red Blend, Paso Robles
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 94 (10/30/2020)

    The 2017 The Hexe is a blend of 58% Grenache, 27% Mataro, 11% Petite Sirah and 4% Tempranillo. It has a medium to deep ruby-purple color and scents of jammy blue and black fruits with touches of fruitcake and sweet spices. The palate bursts with sweet berry fruits, supported by a fine tannic grain and good freshness, finishing very long and spicy.
  • Saxum 2018 'Broken Stones' Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 95 (10/30/2020)

    The 2018 Broken Stones is composed of 49% Syrah, 21% Graciano, 13% Petite Sirah, 8% Grenache, 7% Mataro and 2% Viognier aged in around 60% new oak. Vibrant ruby-purple, it opens to char, bacon fat and violets over a dense core of jammy black and blue fruit with lifting minty accents. The palate is full-bodied and packed with ripe fruits, wrapped in a very firm but finely grained frame and with just enough freshness, finishing on a floral note.
  • Saxum 2018 Terry Hoage Vineyard, Paso Robles
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 95 (10/20/2020)

    The 2018 Terry Hoage Vineyard is the last version of this wine—the vineyard was ripped out due to red blotch. It's a blend of 52% Grenache and 48% Syrah, made with about 30% whole cluster and aged in 50% new puncheons and 50% concrete amphora. It has an opaque ruby-purple color and bursts with aromas of mint, blueberry and blackberry jam, garrigue and red fruit touches. Full-bodied, it offers wonderful juiciness and bright, spicy tricolored fruits with a firm, grainy frame and long finish.
  • Saxum 2018 Terry Hoage Vineyard, Paso Robles
    Vinous
    Rating: 96 (12/15/2020)

    Dark, bright-rimmed ruby. Ripe boysenberry, cherry and exotic spices on the powerfully scented nose, along with a smoky nuance and a hint of vanilla that emerges as the wine opens up. Smooth and deeply concentrated, offering alluringly sweet red/blue fruit preserve flavors complemented by suggestions of allspice, violet and candied licorice. Finishes sappy, spicy and extremely long, with building florality and dusty tannins that come in late.
  • Saxum 2018 'Broken Stones' Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    Vinous
    Rating: 98 (12/15/2020)

    Vibrant purple. Powerful dark berry, cherry cola, incense, potpourri, musky earth, licorice and spice-cake aromas show superb clarity and acquire a smoky mineral nuance as the wine opens up. Sweet, seamless and energetic in the mouth, offering deeply concentrated blueberry, cherry preserve, five-spice powder and floral pastille flavors that are given lift and focus by a spine of juicy acidity. Marries richness to finesse with a sure hand and finishes incredibly long and precise, with gently firming tannins adding shape and closing grip.
  • Saxum 2017 'The Hexe' Red Blend, Paso Robles
    Vinous
    Rating: 98 (12/15/2020)

    Dark violet. Explosive red/blue fruit preserve, incense and floral aromas show superb clarity and complementary hints of smoky minerals, incense and exotic spices; a candied licorice note emerges with aeration. Juicy and impressively concentrated yet surprisingly lithe as well, offering alluringly sweet Chambord, blueberry, cherry pie and lavender pastille flavors and emphatic spiciness. The extremely long, energetic finish features insistent florality and smooth, rounded tannins that merge seamlessly with the wine's clinging fruit.
  • Saxum 2017 'The Hexe' Red Blend, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 99 (9/1/2020)

    Built around old, head-trained vines right outside the winery and 58% Grenache, 27% Mataro, 11% Petite Sirah, and the rest Tempranillo, the 2017 Hexe is another gorgeous, sexy 2017 that's a joy to drink. Offering loads of blackberries, chocolate, white pepper, black licorice, and bouquet garni-like aromas and flavors, it’s full-bodied, ultra-pure, seamless, and gorgeously put together. Drink this stunning wine over the coming 10-15 years.
  • Saxum 2018 'Broken Stones' Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 98 (9/1/2020)

    Made in the more meaty, powerful style that this cuvée has shifted to, the 2018 Broken Stones is 49% Syrah, 21% Graciano, 13% Petite Sirah, 8% Grenache, and 7% Mataro, and a splash of Viognier. Killer stuff, it has a massive Syrah nose of black and blue fruits, ground pepper, game, and crushed violets. With full-bodied richness, a bright, juicy texture, ripe tannins, and a rocking finish, it's a thrill a minute and can be enjoyed today or cellared for a solid decade.
  • Saxum 2018 Terry Hoage Vineyard, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 96 (9/1/2020)

    Based on 52% Grenache and 48% Syrah, the 2018 Terry Hoage Vineyard was brought up in a mix of French oak and concrete tanks. The last release from this vineyard for a while, as the vines were replanted, it's a ripe, sexy wine that has notable purity in its ripe black fruits, spice box, licorice, and chocolate aromas and flavors. Rich, full-bodied, rounded, and beautifully textured, with soft tannins, it's already drinking nicely but will evolve beautifully for a decade.