90% Zinfandel, 6% Alicante Bouschet, 4% Petite Sirah
These century-old vines were pruned late to delay bud break, thus escaping any damage from spring frost. Despite a very small crop, this set harvest back to the final weeks of October. Most of the vineyard is a field blend: the front blocks have a high percentage of zinfandel, the back includes more petite sirah. These parcels were crushed to four small fermentors, and the alicante parcel to a fifth. Limited pump-overs during the naturalyeast fermentation moderated tannins; the grapes were pressed on day six. A natural malolactic finished in eight weeks. Aged in air-dried american oak barrels, this opulent, exotic wine is classic Pagani – one of the finest vintages we have made. Enjoyable now, it will soften and develop over the next five to six years.
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: Sixty inches (slightly above normal)
Bloom: May (normal)
Weather: Wet and unseasonably cool during April and May; moderate temperatures through August. Three-day heat wave in mid-September.
Harvest Dates: 15 – 28 October
Grapes: Average brix 25.5°
Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary/secondary. Pressed at six days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (one-third new and one year, two-thirds three and six years old).
Aging: Fifteen months in barrel
Connoisseurs’ Guide (Jan 2006): “It has never been known for its restraint or delicate nature, and Ridge’s Pagani Ranch Zin is again out in front of the pack when it comes to sheer volume and unbridled ripeness. While many wines of its type are simply undone by their coarseness and heat, it offers layers and layers of ripe berries, cocoa and sweet, caramelized oak spice as just compensation for being so big and so ripe. We would turn its heat down a bit if we could, but we still find plenty of cause for enthusiastic endorsement.” Rated: 90 (*)
San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate (27 July 2005): “My favorite from this tasting; so alive that I kept smelling it to see what it would do next. At one point it smelled like all red fruit; a few minutes later it was all black. The constantly changing aromas included graphite, licorice, black plum, red currant and plum. Flavors include black plum, raspberry, graphite, licorice and violet. Both delicious and entertaining.”
Average Rating: 90.4
No. of Tasting Notes: 37
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