92% Zinfandel, 5% Alicante Bouschet, 3% Petite Sirah
Plum/cherry nose. Integrated oak, old-vine spice, complex mineral notes. Full-bodied; ripe bramble fruit surrounds elegant tannins. Firm acid provides refreshment on the palate, and in the lingering finish.
A warm, dry spring augured a good set, though lack of rain was a concern. Fortunately, the deep-rooted vines found water throughout a mild summer. Ripening was threatened as several fronts passed over Northern California in late September. We picked on October 8; a serious storm struck the next day, but to our surprise the grapes had ripened perfectly. The fully-crushed fruit fermented on its natural yeasts in eight small, open-top tanks. As juice circulated through the skins, rich color and firm tannin extracted quickly. We pressed early, on day five, avoiding an excessively tannic structure. When uninoculated malolactic fermentation finished in late November, the lots were combined and racked to air-dried american oak barrels. This opulent Pagani exemplifies the complexity that can be drawn from old field-blend vines. Enjoyable now, it will develop fully over the next ten 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: Thirty-five inches (below average)
Weather: A dry spring and a warm, dry summer with no
sustained heat spells.
Harvest Dates: 8 October
Grapes: Average Brix 25.5
Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at five days. Aging: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (14% new, 32% one to two, and 54% three to six years old)
Time in Barrel: Fifteen months
Average Rating: 90.3
No. of Tasting Notes: 89
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