2021 Pax Syrah Majik Vineyard

On Monday night we had non-geek yet wine-loving friends visit from out of town. They came after dinner and we opened a few bottles to have paired solely with conversation.

After a white, I pulled a 2021 Pax Majik that Pax gifted me. Without saying anything about the wine, I popped and poured it into everyone’s glasses. Conversation came to a complete halt after first sips. The 21 Majik is subtle and breathtaking. It contains all the contradictions of dark yet light, fresh yet complex, soft yet incredibly textured. The conversation resumed and the wine kept gently nudging its way in as someone would pause to comment at how much they loved it. Pours got bigger. Our friends took the empty bottle home as a keepsake.

I don’t know what else to say besides-
This wine is my favorite Pax wine I have ever had.
This wine is in the conversation of best young Syrah (from anywhere) I’ve ever had.
This wine isn’t a “wow” - it is an exhale of “whew


I always liked the Majik…more than a lot.

Armagh and Nellessen were my favorites (2013 Wind Gap Nellessen is utterly profound).

But it’s all personal.

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Nellessen is almost always my fav.

Why am I not surprised.

Great note Hardy! A few years ago I attended a tasting that included several Winemakers that you know and respect.
The conversation came around to the question. What and when did you know that Sonoma County had the capability of producing great wine, not just tasty wine, the soils and climate makes that easy but cutting edge wine is an entirely different story.

Every winemaker to a person said it was an early Pax Majik (don’t recall the vintage). World class Syrah at ABV that left you shaking your head.
That proved to them that if you found the right vineyard for any grape variety in the County you could make world class wine.
That conversation has stuck in my mind, really enlightening!



Probably the 2005, which is still drinking well.


Yes. That particular wine is a legend.

Bingo. This and the 2006.

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nice the majik solid every year since I’ve been buying, don’t think they’ve released the 2021’s yet. Might have to weight that higher on my next shipment.

I love this wine . . . But it is a very polarizing wine and always has been. I think I tried the 2004 or 2005 in barrel - and that was a ‘controversial’ wine for sure.

When you dial back Syrah as much as @Pax_Mahle does with this wine, he will undoubtedly have some followers . . . . And many who feel he has lost his mind . . .


@H_Wallace_Jr have you tried his The Bench Syrah from Lodi that Pax make? For me, it has that amazing youthful nerve I love and was the wine I connected the most with. Haven’t had the Majik for awhile, but recall liking it.

Another Syrah that keeps blowing my mind is the Que Syrah from A-R. To me, that’s as close to a perfect Syrah as you can get.


And even some of the followers (e.g., me) have thought he has lost his mind from time to time.

Thanks Hardy!

a couple things for the experts…

We farm Majik all by hand using organic products and lots of love and sweat. We have been dry farming it since 2012. We typically get less than 1 ton of fruit per acre. The vineyard is one acre of Syrah clone 7 planted in Goldridge soils on a ridge west of Littoral Estate (yes, closer to the Pacific Ocean). We harvest the fruit at the end of October or early November, it doesn’t get above 22 brix, it’s too cold. So in other words this vineyard is planted at the absolute edge of where Syrah can ripen. (Syrah isn’t planted in Beaujolais but it is in Cote Rotie - think about it)

We pick extremely ripe Syrah at a naturally low brix by hand. We crush it by foot and ferment in without any additions. We age it in 2x used 500L French Oak Puncheons for 10 months and bottle it just before the following harvest. The 2004 (first crop) was 12.5% and it has hovered in the 12.0% - 12.5% every vintage since, the only thing different from the 2021 and the 2004/5 is the oak regime (No more new and now exclusively larger format)

I’m not sure how this is dialing back Syrah, I’m pretty sure that this is the blueprint for making the best Syrah possible. At least it is in other parts of the world.

I drink more Syrah from the Northern Rhone than you’d believe, and allot of Syrah from elsewhere around the world including California. I’m pretty sure that what we are doing is textbook classic Syrah. Majik is one of a handful of vineyard designated Syrahs we bottle, its unique and singular, there are many others that may not hurt your feelings as strongly as this one does.

David I don’t recall exactly when and where our romance ended but the 2022 Nellessen that is coming out soon is the best wine from Nellessen vineyard we have ever bottled. Full Stop.

Happy Sunday!



@Pax_Mahle just going in different directions. I have some 2018s (Majik and Armagh) that are wonderful.

No more wine buying for me after 6/30/2024 anyway. Going to drink down the cellar for decades.

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Pax, thanks for jumping in with all the details on your Majik Vineyard wine. You summed up what I have been trying to say, truly great wine not just delicious wine usually happens when vineyards are “on the edge” and Majik certainly is.
This doesn’t mean that one can’t buy and enjoy whatever wine they want to but to us geeks seeking out wines like Majik is most rewarding.

It’s another whole subject but IMO Halcon has that potential. For sure it’s on the edge.

Again, thanks for jumping in. I’m sure your ears were burning when your colleagues were talking about you and the Pax Majik wine.


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I think I tasted that first vintage out of barrel with you way back in the day - and I thought the alc level was even lower (perhaps under 11?) - but of course, I could be wrong.

And my ‘dialing back’ comment was off base with regards to ths wine for sure.

As you can certainly attest to, Syrah is such a chameleon of a grape and can pretty much grow anywhere - the challenge is to find sites where it produces a ‘distinctive’ wine rather than just a ‘run of the mill’ wine, and it certainly seems Majik hits that target well.




I suppose I should have said the best vintages that are bottled hover around 12.0 - 12.5%. We have bottled tiny amounts of this wine (single barrels usually) @ 11.2% & 10.4% because they merited being bottled (in tiny amounts) but again, this was as high as we could get the brix in the grapes in those vintages, it wasn’t us/me dialing anything back.

That being said we have dialed back on new oak and extraction across all of our Syrah based wines, but so have the best producers of Syrah in the Rhone Valley, so I guess I share my lost mind with the right people.



@Pax_Mahle since we have your attention for a minute, do you know what is happening with the Sceales Vineyard fruit? You and Kenny both used it for a bit and Fine Disregard made one vintage but I haven’t seen it pop up anywhere else. That produced some of the best Grenache I’ve ever had from CA but I haven’t seen it around in years.

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Nathan V,

An interesting block of very old-vine Grenache that was surrounded by machine harvested Cab Sauvignon, it seemed like this parcel was always almost on the chopping block until someone would swoop in and buy the grapes for a couple of years. I can reach out to Ralph Sceales if you would like? I do not know what is going on out there or who is getting the grapes.

I’m sure there is a DM option around here, let me know if you want me to reach out or if you just want his contact info.


Is it? Cool, I still have one. I’m a big fan of 2005 Pax, the Cuvée Keltie always spoke to me.

Nellesen? Damn I used to dig that wine. He got my attention there.

Hey @Pax_Mahle good to see you post here. I won’t forget doing barrels with you back in 2004. We were tasting through your 2003 Syrahs when you were back on Airway Court across from Siduri. Man that was a long time ago. If anyone knows Syrah, it’s you.