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It makes sense that Master Sommelier Pax Mahle is syrah-obsessed. His first restaurant position at Fahey & Fromagerie on Nantucket Island wasn’t that of your normal table busser. Starting in 1991, he would play porter and accompany restaurant owner Michael Fahey and his wealthy clientele around the Northern Rhône, tasting the very best of syrah along the way. So it’s only fitting now that Pax is making some of the finest syrah in California. Bottling his first syrah in 2000, he saw blockbuster success with the 2016 “100-point” Sonoma Hillsides. The North Coast syrah is a blend of of some Pax's best vineyards, including Griffith's Lair and Castell Knight. Fermentation is 100% whole cluster, a technique common in the Northern Rhône decades ago, but not as widespread today. It is aged in concrete, spends a small amount of time in neutral French oak, and is bottled without fining or filtration. A wonderful representation of Pax's signature Northern-Rhône-via-California style, it is luscious yet lifted, with loads of juicy wild black raspberry, blackcurrant, and wild blueberry fruit on a medium-bodied frame with a whiff of classic smoky syrah character. Firm but well-integrated tannins and a silky, elegant texture make this one of the best culty California values! Sustainably grown, low-intervention/natural wine, vegan.