Vermentino, Pax Wines
Pax and Pam Mahle moved to California in 1997 to pursue careers in wine, and after a few years of tasting and sourcing wine from all over the state for Dean & Deluca, Pax realized he needed to be on the frontlines of winemaking rather than behind the scenes, and made the decision to start his own brand in 2000. The Mahles made the bold choice of favoring the “untapped potential” of the Syrah grape at that time. Initially known for his rich and powerful expressions of Syrah that put him on the map, Pax’s style took a major turn to fresher, lower alcohol profiles as he began working with new vineyard sources in cooler, coastal areas of Sonoma. His wines today are balanced and elegant, with a nod to the Old World.
Pax’s all-star lineup includes vineyards such as Alder Springs, Castelli-Knight Ranch and Griffin’s Lair for his Syrahs, and recently the brand has evolved to include new and exciting varieties such as Chenin Blanc, Gamay, Mission and Carignan. The Trousseau Gris that we know and love from his former brand Wind Gap is also being bottled under the Pax label as well as some of the other vineyard sources from that project. He is no longer making Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.
Pax believes that “great wines can only be made from great vineyards”, which guides their highly selective decision-making process in choosing sites that are farmed sustainably by dedicated growers that will produce healthy grapes with balanced acids and sugars. All wines are crushed by foot and hand, and fermented using only natural yeasts. Their goal is to produce wines with as little intervention as possible.
Vermentino is the great white wonder of Coastal Europe. Best known for producing high acid, fleshy, refreshing wines coming out of the sun-drenched coast of Italy. Some would argue that is almost as well known for the denser, skin fermented versions from the warmer Italian interior or the exotic well delineated versions from Sardegna or Corsica. Everyone can agree, whatever the style, the wines are always fresh, lively, and delicious. Pax looked to the sandy sun-drenched dunes of Clements Hills to produce a wine that made them crave shellfish, steep cliffs, and a gorgeous coastline. The sandy soils proved them right.
Lemon Curd, lime zest and salty minerals frame the understated aromas of this zesty white. More weight on the palate than the nose lets on with some pretty Bosch Pear and kefir lime flavors that lead into some creamier lemon chiffon and salty minerality on the finish. This will no doubt gain richness as it rests in the bottle, but its precision and delineation are delicious now.