85% Zinfandel, 10% Alicante Bouschet, 3% Petite Sirah, 2% Carignane
Cherry preserve nose, highlighted by red plum, dried cranberry. Appealing mix of exotic fruit and spice on entry, bright flavors enhanced by firm acidity. Structured, balanced. Very long finish. EB (6/10)
California’s dry winter weather persisted for a second year, and the deep roots of these century-old vines provided just enough water to get through the growing season. We picked on September 30, crushing the small crop into five open-top tanks. To stabilize alicante’s intense color, we co-fermented it with the zinfandel. Juice was pumped over skins for five days during a vigorous natural-yeast fermentation. Natural secondary finished by mid-November. Each lot was exceptional, and we combined all five for this year’s Pagani. Racked to barrel early, its intense fruit and amazing depth permitted use of twenty-five percent new american oak barrels; the rest were one, three, and four years old. Over fifteen months, tannins have softened. The wine’s complex fruit and superb balance will show best over the next seven to eight 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: Below average (less than 30 inches)
Bloom: Early May
Weather: A dry spring and a warm, dry summer with no sustained heat spells.
Harvest Dates: 30 October
Grapes: Average Brix 25.5
Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at five days.
Aging: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (25% new, 25% one year, 50% three and four years old).
Time in Barrel: Sixteen months
Wine Spectator (30 June 2010): “This is big, and loaded with jammy blackberry fruit, but there’s a sense of elegance and focus in its full-bodied flavors. Layered notes of licorice, caramel, toast and sage lead to a finish of firm but ripe tannins. Drink now through 2016.” -Tim Fish (Rated: 92)
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (May-June 2011): “Inky ruby. Exotically perfumed, oak-spiced of cherry compote, blackberry, cola and vanilla bean, with smoke and black cardamom notes adding complexity. Sappy, broad and densely packed dark fruit flavors show very good intensity and pick up a spicy character with air. Really clings on the finish, which leaves notes of cherry, licorice and candied violet behind.” -Josh Raynolds (91 points)
The Tasting Panel (October 2010): “Dark and dense with intense plum, blackberry and pomegranate fruit; very ripe and concentrated with a touch of jamminess and lots of spice and vanilla; rich and long.” (Rated: 91)
California Grapevine (Vol. 36, No. 5, October-November 2010): “Medium to medium-dark ruby; attractive, intense, spicy, brambly, very ripe, sweet blackberry fruit aroma with hints of cocoa and black pepper; full body; forward, relatively plush, briary, blackberry fruit flavors; medium-full to full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Shows distinctive varietal character and is appealing to drink now though a bit hard on the finish. Very highly recommended.”(Group Score: 16.2 of 20 points, 0/3/3; My Score: 17 [91/100], second place)
Average Rating: 90.8
No. of Tasting Notes: 129
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