Thursday, June 14, 2018
At a private home in Buena Vista Park, San Francisco
Pax is a new label that has come full circle for Pax and Pam Mahle. The Mahles launched the original Pax label in 2000; the wines produced were Syrah dominant, from cool climate vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. The wines were big, rich expressions of Syrah that were highly regarded and sought after, establishing Pax as one of the premiere California Syrah producers.
After a falling out with their investor partner, the Mahles dissolved the brand in 2008 and put the Pax label on hold for several years, focusing their energy on their other label, Wind Gap. Wind Gap has gained market recognition in a short period of time, lauded for its savory-styled wines from coastal sites influenced by the wind gaps throughout the state of California. Like many young winemakers, Pax Mahle’s winemaking style has slowly evolved throughout the years, and that evolution is evident in the Wind Gap wines. Winemaking at Wind Gap is traditional, with some experimentation (skin contact, esoteric varietals, use of concrete for fermentation and aging).
2014 heralded the return of the Pax label. Unlike the original brand launched in 2000, “Pax 2.0” is no longer Syrah-dominant. The new Pax label reaches beyond Syrah and other Rhone varietals to bottle Chenin Blanc, Carignan, and even Gamay Noir, released in 2018 from the first vineyard planted to the varietal in the Sonoma Coast appellation. While still largely traditional, the evolution of Mahle’s winemaking translates to a more elegant style of wine, still fruit-driven, but with less intensity than the original Pax wines.
There are many similarities between Pax and Wind Gap; both labels crush by foot, ferment whole cluster, use native yeast for primary and secondary fermentations, source from organically farmed vineyards with low yields, with minimal use of new oak. Unlike Wind Gap, there is very little use of concrete in the Pax wines; instead the wines are aged in mostly neutral French Oak barrels.
Pax is an homage to the classic Syrah sites of the original wines: Alder Springs, Castelli-Knight and Griffins Lair Vineyards. The wines have a purity of fruit and expression of place, impressively structured yet incredibly balanced.
We will be pouring
2016 Chenin Blanc, Buddha’s Dharma Vineyard
2016 Gamay Noir, Sonoma Coast
2015 The Vicar, North Coast (95% Grenache 5% Syrah)
2013 Syrah Griffins Lair Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
2013 Syrah Castelli-Knight Ranch, RRV
$75 per person