99pts Jeb Dunnuck
Showing better from bottle than barrel (always a good sign), the 2018 James Berry Vineyard is another stunning wine in a long line of stunning wines from this estate. Based on 64% Grenache, 16% Mataro, 14% Syrah, and the rest Carignan, incredible notes of blueberries, wild strawberries, licorice, new leather, herbes de Provence, and candied violets all emerge from the glass, and it's full-bodied, with an incredible sense of purity and elegance, flawless balance, and a huge finish. It has some early appeal yet is going to be best with 2-4 years of bottle age and will still be drinking beautifully at age 20. Drink: 2022-2038
Saturated purple. A heady, expansive bouquet evokes ripe blueberry, cherry compote, potpourri, candied licorice and exotic spices, and a smoky mineral nuance builds in the glass. Sweet, palate-staining red/blue fruit liqueur, lavender pastille, cola and spice-cake flavors show outstanding depth as well as energy thanks to an undercurrent of juicy acidity. Plays power off finesse with a sure hand and finishes extremely long, sappy and precise, with polished, well-knit tannins emerging slowly. Drink: 2026-2036 Josh Raynolds
97pts Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2018 James Berry Vineyard is a blend of 64% Grenache, 16% Mataro, 14% Syrah and 6% Carignan. It has an intense, alluring perfume with loads of layers, its warm tricolored fruits laced with notes of aniseed, coffee, earth and blue flowers. The palate offers explosive flavors with surprising lift and freshness, silky in texture and finishing very long, layered and spiced. It's a lovely rendition of James Berry that presents its layered flavors in an unusually elegant frame. Drink: 2020-2032
I’ve been eagerly anticipating the 2018 vintage in Paso Robles, where cooler temperatures resulted in some unusually elegant, lifted wines. The 2018s from Saxum did not disappoint—these latest releases offer incredible concentration of flavor with surprising elegance and freshness. While they took some time in bottle to unwind, I’m pleased with how they have blossomed over time. These layered, nuanced wines have the intense flavor, ripe tannins and freshness for long-term cellaring, and while they’re stunning now, they’ll offer more a few years down the road. Cheers! Erin Brooks
This iteration of the James Berry Vineyard has got to be the most complex one we have ever made. The nose is not as lifted as the '17s were (I really love how forward the '17s are), but the upside potential of this '18 boggles the senses. It will only continue to evolve and surprise you in the glass... one minute it's all black licorice and fresh loam and then the next it's back to strawberries and shortbread! But wait, violets too?? Yes, so much violets. The mouthfeel is big, focused, and rich, but a little more structured than the G2. Silky seamless tannins. This JBV is one for the ages. Lay it low for a few year if you can. Many more if you can do that too! Either way, don't miss this one.
The 2018s are some of the most complex and nuanced wines we have ever released (and will definitely benefit from 3-30 years of aging.) Structured and built like a brick, while at the same time the copious tannins are coming together nicely. I really dig them. To be honest, I was a little scared when I tasted them last. They were so tightly focused and intense. Now I'm seeing how quickly they have softened up, coming out of their proverbial shells. I know it's cliche, but iron fist in a velvet glove suits them well. I have previously compared the 2018s to the 2016s, but now that I've had some time to get to know both vintages I find them to be less similar than I first thought... I think '18 might be better. Yes, you heard it here first. Our '18s might be better than the much regaled '16s. (And I'm not just saying that because I'm slinging them today!) I think the '16s may be a bit more generous and forthcoming, but the '18s will outshine the '16s in their complexity. I'm looking forward to some side by side comparisons in 5 or 6 years. It shall be a momentous battle!
Blend: 64% Grenache, 16% Mataro, 14% Syrah, 6% Carignan