TN: 2007 James Berry: Saxum, Copain, Carlisle


Several of us got together to try the 100 point 2007 Saxum James Berry, matching up with the Syrahs from Copain and Carlisle

  • 2007 Saxum James Berry Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    (Tasted along with 07 Copain and Carlisle Syrah James Berry)
    Dense, flavorful red fruits, smooth dark raspberry, some sweetness, fairly ripe, deep, intense finish, though has a smokiness and savoriness that makes me think it’s partially from the barrel; soft mouthfeel lower acid/tannins, riper than either the Copain or Carlisle. With several more hours of air, becomes quite ripe, somewhat syrupy, flat, low on both acidity and tannic structure. Yes, there is depth and intensity, with some licorice on the finish, but the balance is so out of whack it just never comes together as a complete package, even for its style. (87 pts.)
  • 2007 Copain Syrah James Berry Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    (Tasted along with 07 Saxum James Berry and Carlisle Syrah James Berry)
    More dense and opaque in color than the Saxum, quite a bit of fine sediment for such a young wine. Rich deep red fruits, avoids some of the sweet touch of the Saxum, there is more structural acidity and fine tannins, overall a bit better balanced. Quite a large framed wine coming from Copain. 91 (91 pts.)
  • 2007 Carlisle Syrah James Berry Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    (Tasted along with 07 Saxum James Berry and Copain Syrah James Berry)
    Deep, lush blackberry fruit, dark, rich, some fine mouth gripping tannins on the finish. A big, dense, rich style but the balance holds it all together. 93 (93 pts.)
  • 2007 Lagier Meredith Syrah - USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
    Beautiful deep boysenberry/blackberry fruit, nice intensity and depth, great acidity. Still just a youngster, but destined to be one of the best of the decade (94 pts.)
  • 2000 Saxum Syrah Bone Rock James Berry Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Nice dark black fruit, smooth, lush some anise and tar, decent acidity, touches of dried herbs, holding well and still quite youthful, but starting to show some interesting complexities. This is the Saxum style that drew me to the wine originally. This is my last bottle of the 2000 Bone Rock, and brings back the memory of first meeting Justin Smith in a dark coner of Mat Garretson’s winery. Back then Justin made his wine there, and would hang out at the Garretson open house, selling his wine. After sampling the wine, I was ready to buy a few bottles, but Justin wasn’t set up to take credit cards. So he sent the wine home with me, telling me to just send a check. A very down to earth and classy guy, though it seems he’s been drawn in by Parker’s praise, and pushed things a bit too far for my taste preferences. (92 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

Thanks for the useful notes on a nice group of wines. I keep meaning to find some Lagier Meredith, but I have never gotten around to it. The 2007 sounds like quite a wine.

2007 Saxum JBV…doesn’t sound like a hundred pointer to me.

Cool tasting Alan. Clearly perfection is a different thing to everyone. The notes on CT seem fairly split on the 2007 Saxum also.

Different strokes for different folks, eh?!?!??

Of the Saxum’s I’ve tasted, the 07 definitely seemed more ‘restrained’ than earlier releases - of course, this is a ‘relative’ comparison . . .

YMMV . . .


Thanks for the comparison Alan, It makes it easier on being shut out on the Saxum as I do have both the Copain and Carlisle.

Brad, somewhat knowing your palate I’m sure you would love the LM Syrah. My local Costco has had every vintage back to '02 which was fantastic when I had back in January.

Great notes, thanks for the look at the Carlisle (I scored 2 btls + 1 mag), they are off-site and plan to stay there.

I’ve had just about every Lagier Meredith ever made and never any that even seemed to be peaking, let alone over the hill. Great wines, nice to see them get some love.

“You are wrong!”


More accurately, Alan Rath is wrong. How dare you post such a note on this obviously perfect wine!

Joe, in my protectionist state, Costco sells no wine. I don’t see Lagier Meredith in stores. I’ll just have to get it from the source one of these days.

Nicely done Alan! I hold this particular suite of wines. I hope they live up to your notes (except for the Saxum)!

Alan, you Mike and I tend to drink more in common so nice to see us all talking about James Berry. For context, I drank the 2007 Copain JB this past Friday, which I posted on separately. I seemed to have had a more enthusiastic response to the wine than you, based on your quantitative scores. Comparing on points might not be the best way to look for how you saw the Copain against the Carlisle or Saxum but save tasting them with you (we should do this again some day!), I’m going this route. The Copain is large but I fear using that descriptor in the context of CA syrah can create a perception with some a wine is too ripe, too hot, too thick, whatever–the Copain JB is none of those for me. Dark–yes, brooding–yes, really stunning. The disadvantage I have here, though, is that like Mike, I own the Carlisle and Saxum but have yet to open either and log any notes in CT. I really want to see how Mike interpreted JB, and also see if my own perceptions line up with that of Parker on the Saxum so I need to get to that soon.

As to the 2000 Saxum Bone Rock, I had that wine last in January 2009 and I found it excellent, much better than the 2002 or 2003 even, and while I like the 2004, I do think that 2000 is really a great wine, a wine that still had life ahead of it. I wish too I still had one to enjoy.

Thanks for lining these up and offering some thoughts–do appreciate it.

Frank, you know I’m one of the biggest Copain supporters around, so in no way was I meaning to be negative about the wine, just describing it as I found it. To be honest, it changed a fair bit from tasting it in the morning after about half an hour, then side by side with the other wines about 5 hours later. It did have the Copain stamp on it, but I believe that stamp is in part how Wells makes the wine, and in equal part the vineyard sources. In the end, I don’t know that the winemaker can trump the vineyard, which is what I found with this wine - hence my description of being large framed relative to other Copain syrahs. If I have my facts straight, I believe the Copain fruit was picked at the same time as other James Berry fruit in 07, but earlier in 08. So that will really be the interesting comparison to make. It’s probably a bit unfair to have compared the Saxum with the other two, as it is a grenach blend, and the others are syrah. Anyway, next time you’re up that way, give me a yell :slight_smile: