Axis Mundi Wine:
The same philosophies that cause war and strife around the world, the same forces opposed to the open-mindedness of the Axis Mundi, are also at work in the world of wine.
Some critics would have you believe that ‘bigger is better’ and the whole currency of wine quality is defined by ripeness and the amount of overt flavor one can pack into a bottle.
Others are opposed to this idea and believe, fundamentally, that balance can only be achieved in wines under 14% alcohol, or 13% alcohol, or some other arbitrary definition of a wine’s chemistry.
2008 – 2009: Axis Mundi Syrah, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands
Joe Davis at Arcadian was the provocateur in 2008 when he recognized we had very little Estate fruit from Clos Pepe due to a horrific frost/freeze event in early April, 2008. Joe was nice enough to split his Sleepy Hollow syrah fruit with us and the resulting wine was spectacular. The 2009 was a bit more problematic, and came in at very low ripeness. Coaxing the fruit to make a palatable table wine was a challenge, but I think we did a great job. Sleepy Hollow also terminated our oral contract without warning, so we were suddenly without a syrah source, but we were anxious to move to a different grower and keep our production more localized.
2010 – Present: Axis Mundi Grenache (67%) / Syrah (33%)
Wes Hagen was hired by viticulturists in the Ballard Canyon subarea to write an AVA petition, and as part of his research was excited to make wines from Ballard Canyon. Partnering with the Saarloos family at the top of Ballard Canyon (a vineyard that Wes originally consulted for in the 1990’s), Axis Mundi launched a new wine with a style that is rare in the market. The first three vintages (2010, 2011, 2012) produced a very juicy, fruity, light-bodied style that many defined as ‘rosé-like’, ‘easy-drinking’, and ‘fruity/spicy like sangria’. We loved the style that the grapes suggested. We did not hang them too long for overt ripeness and embraced a style that one doesn't usually see in the US wine market: a light-bodied, easy-drinking red that does not impress with concentration, but instead by elegance and lightness. Looks like a pinot noir in the glass and drinks between a light-bodied red or a heavy rosé. We chill it in the summer and drink at cellar-temp in the winter. It can match with something as rich as duck or cassoulet or as light as a goat-cheese and spinach salad. It matches just about anything you would serve on a Tuesday night: pizza, grilled meats, pasta, hamburgers …you name it! The 2013 vintage brought denser color and a bigger wine, and the 2014 looks to be the same. The early vintages of Axis Mundi (2010-2012) certainly match the philosophy: not fundamentally red wine or rosé, but a beautiful connection between the two. Now that we have a rosé under the Axis Mundi label, the last two vintages were made as truly a red wine not blurring the line between a rosé and a red.
2013 Axis Mundi Rosé of Mourvedre:
There are two kinds of rosé: the bleed-off of juice from a red wine to increase color and richness, and a rose’ that is made specifically and purposefully. We like our rosé to be lean and elegant, light and refreshing, and around 12% alcohol. The 2013 vintage is a Mourvedre rosé and is a beauty! Picked at a mere 18.5 degrees Brix (% of sugar by weight in the juice), the resulting wine is just over 11% alcohol and will make an amazing ‘session wine’ for anytime you want a refreshing sipper. Bright and ephemeral in the mouth, barely pink in color, yet it still has body and wonderful food pairing options too. Make it light, make it right!
2014 Axis Mundi Grenache Blanc:
We started drinking Grenache Blanc nearly ten years ago when Kris Curran of Curran Wines, et al, began making a crisp, bright, slightly spicy version of this expressive grape. Deciding that we needed a bright, crisp white to fill out our Axis Mundi portfolio, the Clos Pepe/Axis Mundi team of Chanda, Wes, Steve and Andrew discussed our favored options: Chenin Blanc from Clarksburg, Sauvignon Blanc from Happy Canyon, or Grenache Blanc from Los Olivos/Santa Ynez. After tasting a number of wines, and being confounded by a Linne Calodo ‘Contrarian’ 2010 that was predominately Grenache Blanc, we decided to try making GB, starting in 2014. We made a light and balanced version, stainless fermented and bottled without malolactic fermentation. We wanted the wine to be bright and varietal and we believe we succeeded.