89% Zinfandel, 7% Alicante Bouschet, 4% Petite Sirah
Nose: Ripe blackberry, boysenberry; touch of rhubarb pie. Oldvine black pepper; barrel tones of butterscotch and vanilla. Distinctive field blend aromas, some earthiness. Palate: Powerful flavors of rich boysenberry, raspberry. Firm, integrated acidity. Elegant, chalky tannins and a long, enjoyable finish.
A late spring delayed the growing season, but warm September weather made up for time lost. We postponed harvest until mid- October to achieve full, very ripe flavors. Fermentation began gradually over a period of three days, as naturally-occurring yeasts multiplied in the crushed grapes. We cut back pumpovers to moderate tannins, and pressed at dryness after eight days. The natural secondary (malolactic) fermentation finished in six weeks, and the wine was racked to air-dried american oak barrels for aging. New oak was kept to twenty percent, allowing the character and quality of the old-vine fruit to determine the wine’s appeal. Intense and full-bodied, with firm acid and welldefined tannins, this superb late-picked zinfandel is enjoyable now; it will be at its best over the next five to seven years. PD (12/03)
Since 1991, Ridge has made zinfandel from the old Pagani vineyard on the east-facing side of Sonoma Valley. Almost all the vines here were planted more than a hundred years ago. Pagani Ranch is a fine example of what we look for in a vineyard: low-yielding old vines, carefully tended by a quality-conscious family who, in this case, have worked the land for four generations. The vineyard’s long survival is proof of its merit. An average site would have been abandoned during the thirteen years of Prohibition, or during the Depression.
Rainfall: Over 40 inches
Bloom: Late May
Weather: Even summer, with warm days and cool nights. Heat in early September.
Harvest Dates: 14 October
Grapes: Average brix 27.4-; average pH at crush 3.30
Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary/secondary. Pressed at eight days
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (20% new; 20% two and three years old; 60% five years old)
Aging: Twelve months in barrel
Quarterly Review of Wines (Summer 2005): Highly Recommended (the 2003 Zinfandel Paso Robles received Best of Show of 87 zinfandels tasted blind).
California Grapevine (Oct-Nov 2004): “Medium ruby; attractive, intense, spicy, plummy, briary, sharply focused, very ripe, sweet blackberry fruit aroma with a slight raisiny character; full body; big, concentrated, cedary, jammy, very ripe, dark berry fruit flavors with a touch of black pepper; full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Very appealing to drink now. Very highly recommended.” Rated: 91
Average Rating: 88
No. of Tasting Notes: 30
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