helped plan further plantings over the next couple of years.
The first vintage of Terry Hoage wines, in '02, was made by Justin Smith, and Justin served as a consultant in '03.
As we tasted through the reds, it was interesting to compare how the wines share some basic similarity to those of Terry's mentor Justin Smith
, but also how Terry has diverged from that model to carve out his own distinct style.
Little needs to be said these days about Saxum and owner/winemaker Justin Smith.
Happy to report that success hasn't changed Justin
though - he's
still the same hardworking, crazy, passionate, slightly goofy guy he's
been since I've known him, always a pleasure to visit.
Justin launched Saxum in the early '00s after splitting with Matt Trevisan and the Linne Calodo label they'd started a few years before.
In 2003, Justin
completed the current Saxum winery, overlooking James Berry Vineyard.
wife Heather run the winery from their house adjacent to the production facility.
As we waited a short time for Justin
, who was finishing up with another group of visitors, we admired the stunning Bone Rock portion of the vineyard, right next to the winery and house.
This area is planted along a series of curving terraces cascading down the steep hillside.
The chalky, almost-white limestone soil was easy to see along the terraces.
While the vines in the rest of the vineyard are trellised, the Bone Rock vines are trained on vertical cordons due to the difficulty of trellising along the tight curves.
After a few minutes, Justin
came over and welcomed us to the winery.
We didn't spend a lot of time chit-chatting with him - just about all of our group that day has known him for some time, and he
was on a tight schedule, squeezing us in between meeting with a group of distributors and attending to some family duties with the kids.
But we had no complaints as he
handed each of us a wine glass and we started right in with some tasting, first of a few current releases, and then moving on to some barrel samples from the '09 vintage.
did take the time to show us a special 3-liter bottle of the Saxum
'07 "Bone Rock" that he
was donating for the HdR auction that Saturday.
As we tasted, Justin
told us a little about his
All the wines start out with native yeast fermentation, though Justin
may inoculate some lots if they have trouble getting started.
Different wines will get differing percentages of whole-cluster fermentation, and he
noted that he'll sometimes destem fruit and add back the stems into the fermentation vessel too.
mentioned that recent "Bone Rock" bottlings have included around 60-70% whole cluster, and receive extended barrel aging.
Older "Bone Rock" wines tended to include much less whole cluster, around 10-15%.
told us that even with high percentages of whole cluster / stem inclusion, the pH of the wines is seldom a problem.
uses a variety of fermenters, mostly three, four, and five tons in size.