2015 Pax Carignan Testa Vineyard
Region: Mendocino County < California
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; 100% whole cluster fermented; picked early for freshness; carbonic maceration; aged in neutral French oak barrels and concrete for 6 months; bottled unfined/unfiltered with 30ppm SO2; 11.9% abv
Winemaker: Pax Mahle
Pax Mahle is legendary in low-intervention Cali winemaking circles, having brought us Wind Gap, famous for esoteric wines like Trousseau Gris, from cool, windy NorCal sites. Pax is the eponymous label that he recently relaunched (after 2008 legal drama with former partners forced him to reboot) to do some small production, site-specific stuff from cool climate vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino. Grapes for this wine come from historic Testa Vineyard just north of Ukiah, planted in 1911. Pax says that these old Carignan vines are nestled into some of the fluffiest soil he has ever walked through – which shows in the delicacy of this wine. Little to no crushing enables a carbonic fermentation and a fresh, bright wine with that Hot Rocks, poppy red fruit thing we love. Like classic Carignan on acid. There’s very little tannin (typical with carbonic ferments) but tons of spice and fresh acidity to keep everything in check. Serve slightly chilled – 30 minutes in the fridge is perfect.