This wine is co-fermented in a Côte-Rôtie style with 8% Viognier which I absolutely love and has some delicious floral aromas on the nose. Upon opening, there’s a little underlying funkiness – a little barnyard smell – that is not pervasive and adds a little interest. This wine smells so good that I could sit and smell it forever. It has a lot of black pepper on the palate. I also get a nice black olive aroma that carries through on the palate.
As the wine opened up I got some of that familiar Syrah plum and smoked meat/campfire aromas. In fact, all the familiar cool-climate Syrah flavors are there. It has a rich and somewhat round palate and seems to have a little more oak than some of the other cool-climate Syrahs I’ve had, but the oak is integrated and the wine finishes with a nice punch of acidity that lasts for days and makes you thirst for more. Even at eight years old, this wine is still young.
This is good stuff. I’m loving this Côte-Rôtie style that this wine, and the Cabot Kimberly’s Vineyard were made in. They are much better than the other American Côte-Rôties that I’ve had that seemed too rich and sweet. This wine and the Cabot have some nice savoriness that the other wines didn’t. Even at 14.6% alcohol this wine is balanced, also much like the Cabot with its high percentage of alcohol.
The Pax label unfortunately no longer exists — the co-owners Pax Mahle and Joe Donelan had a falling out and the label has now become Donelan Family Wines. Donelan Family Wines still make a Kobler Family Vineyard Syrah and have maintained many of the same vineyard contacts that Pax Mahle had before. Of course, Pax Mahle went on to form Wind Gap Wines which are piquing a lot of interest lately among cool-climate aficionados for their balanced wines. As soon as I can get a hold of one of their Syrahs to try I will. I’ll also be interested to try the Donelan wines because they seem to still be focused on making wines in a similar style to what Pax Mahle was doing and are especially interested in balance and cool-climate characteristics.
The Kobler Family Vineyard is located in a sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley that gets a fair amount of fog because of its proximity to the coast. According to the Donelan website and a few other sources, this is one of the cooler vineyards in all of the Russian River. The wine shows that it has classic cool-climate characteristics and I’m glad that the Donelan Family will continue to make wine from this vineyard — I’ll definitely search it out if its not prohibitively expensive.
Although I found this wine at K and L Wines for $35, I think it originally sold for much, much more. The heavy bottle itself is a sight to behold, with its wax-dipped stem and a punt that you could lose your hand inside. Either the price drop happened because the winery failed or its simply another example of how the languishing state of Syrah in California is affecting wine prices. Either way, I’m glad I could find a bottle for under $40 and enjoy it as much as I did.