88% Zinfandel, 7% Alicante Bouschet, 3% Petite Sirah, 2% Carignane
Nose: Boysenberry, cocoa, dried herbs, pepper, new oak. Palate: Rich, sweet high toned red/black jammy fruit balanced by firm acidity, soft, sensuous long finish.
These old vines are planted at the base of the hills on the western edge of Sonoma Valley. The region is cool for zinfandel, so we prune late to avoid risk of frost damage. Cool weather delayed harvest to late October. Nine parcels were hand-picked in one day, and crushed to small tanks for natural fermentation. A submerged cap was used with most of the grapes. The alicante and a small amount of zinfandel co-fermented with a floating cap to better stabilize alicante’s intense color. After a natural malolactic, the wines were racked to american oak barrels. Although no lots were held out, production is the lowest in years. This superb zinfandel displays the complex earth and spice typical of the vineyard. Delightful now, it will continue to develop over the next five to seven years. (EB 3/08)
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: Fifty-five inches (above average)
Weather: A wet spring and warm, dry summer, with rain at the end of harvest.
Harvest Dates: 19 October
Grapes: Average Brix 25.2
Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at six days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (15% new, 20% one year, 29% two years and 45% four to six years old).
Aging: Sixteen months in barrel
Connoisseurs’ Guide (January 2009): “In this outing, the Pagani Ranch wine is a touch richer in oak than the family recipe predicts, yet beneath its seductive veneer of vanilla and cream caramel lies lots of deep, delicious, precisely defined Zinfandel fruit. Broad and balanced on the palate and firmed by just the right bit of tannin, it ends with an exceptionally long, very rich, berry-like finish and promises to develop nicely over the next three to six years.” Rated: 95 (***) Connoisseurs’ Choice
Average Rating: 89.7
No. of Tasting Notes: 38
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