2007 Alder Springs Vineyard Estate Syrah
 
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Alder Springs Vineyard and Stuart Bewley Pax Mahle's Jackpot at Alder Springs

On August 15, 1981, Stuart Bewley and his partner shipped the first cases of a 50/50 mix of white wine and fruit juice, California Cooler. Four years later, the company was shipping 20 million cases of California Cooler per year, and on August 15, 1985, Stuart sold the venture to Brown-Forman. But now he had a problem. Bewley had been working 70-hour weeks for as long as he could remember. Now, he had to figure out what to do with himself.

"It was too much, too fast," Stuart confided, as we walked the Syrah rows of Alder Springs. "I decided I wanted to go into the fine wine business, but I really had no idea where. I spent months looking at every available vineyard property in Napa and Sonoma. I went south to Santa Barbara. I thought about Bordeaux or Burgundy. But, when the agent first showed me this property, the search was over -- and there was more than enough to do!"

If you make this trek up the coast, over two hours from Sonoma's town square, it won't take long to figure out what captured Stuart Bewley's imagination. Alder Springs is a 6,000 acre forested wonderland, just 120 of which are devoted to vines. There are dozens of mountain vineyard blocks, all facing south and east. Perched above the fog line between 1700 and 2700 feet in elevation, Bewley erected 140 miles of netting so as to protect some of the coast's most sought after Syrah and Chardonnay clusters from birds. The days are hot. The nights are cold. It wouldn't be long before nearly every cult winemaker in Sonoma was knocking down Alder Spring's door.

By 2007, Stuart Bewley was selling almost his entire harvest to the likes of Arnot-Roberts, Rhys, Patz and Hall, Behrens and Hitchcock, Pax and Kosta Browne. But that spring, Bewley decided to cautiously throw his own hat into the winemakers' ring. He politely reached out to several of his superstar clients and asked if any would be interested in making a small batch of estate Syrah. Bewley hit the jackpot when Pax Mahle was first to return his call.

From 2001 to 2006, Pax crafted some of the most treasured red wines on the coast from these southeast-facing hillsides. In a high scoring Syrah performance matched only by Joey Tensley's Colson Canyon, Mahle garnered eight 94-96pt reviews from The Wine Advocate in just six years. Parker was utterly mesmerized by Pax's protocol and Bewley's finely-tailored vines, describing it as displaying "great intensity, tremendous unctuosity, huge body, and a sexiness that must be tasted to be believed."

For just one vintage, Pax would be Bewley's hired gun, and as luck would have it, that vintage would be one of the most unforgettable in coastal winegrowing history.

Pax Mahle made just 6 barrels this 2007 Alder Springs Estate-Grown Syrah, bottles Stuart Bewley has always been loath to part with. Deep purple/black to the rim, with piercing aromas of black plum, mountain blueberry, violets and underbrush. High-toned and briary on the attack, with excellent compactness and density, there's a certain texture to this wine that obliges one to drink it slowly -- waiting for Pax's deft winemaking touch to take you on a signature ride. Two hours after decanting, the 2007 Alder Springs Syrah is still coming on, arguing for 5-7 years more of cellar slumber.



Tasting Notes

2007 Alder Springs Vineyard Estate Syrah
"Deep purple/black to the rim, with piercing aromas of black plum, mountain blueberry, violets and underbrush. High-toned and briary on the attack, with excellent compactness and density, there's a certain texture to this wine that obliges one to drink it slowly -- waiting for Pax's deft winemaking touch to take you on a signature ride. Two hours after decanting, the 2007 Alder Springs Syrah is still coming on, arguing for 5-7 years more of cellar slumber."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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