2021 Pax “Alta Monte” Gamay Noir, Sonoma Coast
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Without a doubt, Pax is at the vanguard of the new wave of American producers looking to make refreshing, complex wines from often-times overlooked grapes from amazing cool-climate sites. For me, Pax Mahle is the reference point for what is possible in American-made Syrah, crafting his wines as an homage to both the Northern Rhone (the spiritual home of the grape) and the undeniable California sunshine.
Pax and Pam Mahle moved to wine country in 1997 to pursue careers in wine. After a few years of tasting and sourcing wine from all over California for Dean & Deluca, Pax decided to start his own brand from a vineyard he felt a kismet connection. That vineyard was Alder Springs Vineyard, and after finding an investor to help realize the dream, Pax Wine Cellars was launched in 2000.
The Mahles decided to make a bold choice by favoring the “untapped potential” of the Syrah grape. The entire lineup of wines came from cool climate vineyards in Sonoma County and Mendocino. The wines were big, rich expressions of Syrah that went on to be highly sought after and quickly established Pax as one of California’s premier producers of Syrah.The Pax brand continued to grow, however there was a rift in partner relations. In 2008, after a lengthy legal battle, Pax Wine Cellars was dissolved, and the Pax brand was put on hold for a few short years. In the meantime, the Mahles were focusing on their up-and-coming brand Wind Gap. Wind Gap was started as an outlet for experimentation with esoteric varietals and wines that did not fit the Pax portfolio. Wind Gap quickly became a success in its own right and recently brought in investors Charles and Ali Banks to help guide Wind Gap to the next level.
Now it’s 2014 and Pax and Pam are ready to re-launch their eponymous label with the original all-star line up of Alder Springs, Castelli-Knight Ranch and Griffin’s Lair Syrahs. It seems everything has come full circle.
"Dark spicy black and snappy red fruits are highlighted with aromas of candied apple and the sweetest red strawberries. Gorgeous fruit unfolds layer after layer with savory spices, texture and a natural sweetness. Waves of flowers, berries, spice and Gamay sexiness pour from a glass of this light and tactile red wine. Think sexy fruit. Drink chilled." -- Pax