Downstream is one of the most exciting new wines in the World, crafted by two contemporary legends: Saxum Vineyards owner/winemaker Justin Smith, and revered French oenologist, the late-great Philippe Cambie, most famous for his work at Clos Saint Jean in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
- Region: Paso Robles
- Winery Location: Willow Creek District
- Owner: Justin Smith, Philippe Cambie & Sasha Verhage
- First Vintage: 2016
- Winemaker: Justin Smith
Justin and Philippe were bought together my their mutual friend, the visionary Sasha Verhage, who told Justin that Philippe wanted to work with him using ‘heritage’ Zinfandel, not repeating his work in the Rhône. They produced four remarkable vintages (2016-2019) before Philippe’s tragic passing.
When asked about the Downstream name, Justin says, “We’d been thinking about what to call it for forever, but nothing was sticking. And then I had a dream: I was driving down the 101, past Atascadero, about to get off the freeway to go to In-N-Out Burger, and it hit me.” In his dream, he exclaimed: “Downstream! We’re going to call it Downstream! I can’t wait to call Sasha and tell him that I found the perfect name: Downstream!” When he woke up, he felt it was the perfect name. And though he says the name didn’t hold a lot of meaning immediately after the dream, Smith now sees parallels between the name and his creative intentions. Smith’s portions of the proceeds from Downstream will be donated entirely to local charities. “I’ll be sending that money downstream,” he says.
This is a California Legend, already one of the most exclusive and sought after wines of Central California. With barely a few hundred cases to be produced each vintage, it’s well on the way to being a serious collector’s item too!
Justin and Philippe tracked down some amazing fruit from the famed Dusi Vineyard, which was first planted in 1945. Once the individual lots have completed their malolactic fermentation, usually in the Spring after harvest, Philippe puts the final blend together. The resulting wine was described by leading critic Jeb Dunnuck as having “Ineffable beauty”. If the young Downstream wines have a hallmark, it’s their structural integrity, generosity of fruit and a pronounced saline signature.
Justin Smith is a master of craft in the winery and out in the vineyard. He is constantly pushing, exploring, and pursuing. A creative force and visionary, Justin has elevated Paso Robles wines to world-class levels at his Saxum Vineyards.
Philippe was renowned for his precise palate, encyclopaedic knowledge of wine, and exquisite blending capabilities. He consulted for over 80 projects world-wide, most famously at multiple 100-point Clos St. Jean in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.