80% Zinfandel, 14% Alicante Bouschet, 4% Petite Sirah, 2% Carignane
Deep garnet. Mixed boysenberry/strawberry/rhubarb compote. Peppermint, old-vine black pepper. Medium-to-full body, with round tannins, firm acid. Tart juicy plum, intense cherry. Layered and sensuous.
A brief winter and unusually warm spring and summer stressed these unirrigated old vines. Despite the stress, Sonoma Valley’s cool climate kept the grapes from over-ripening. Harvested on October 11- two days before a powerful storm- the grapes were in perfect condition. Of three fermentors, one had a submerged-cap grid for gentle extraction; the others allowed the cap of skins to float. All were pumped over daily to aerate juice and keep the natural-yeast fermentation progressing to dryness. We combined the two most complex lots, transferred them to american oak barrels, and racked them off the lees every three to four months to clarify the wine naturally. Spice and fruit have integrated nicely. Like the 2008, this Pagani has the richness and structure for aging. It will develop fully over the next fifteen 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 (34 inches)
Bloom: Late May
Weather: A dry winter saved by spring rains and a warm, dry summer.
Harvest Dates: 11 October
Grapes: Average Brix 26.1
Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at nine days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (14% one year, 53% two years old and 33% four years old).
Aging: Fourteen months in barrel
Pagani Vineyard grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and crushed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. 0.1 grams/liter calcium carbonate added during fermentation to moderate excessive natural acidity. Minimum effective sulfur added (35 ppm at crush, 145 ppm over the course of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
California Grapevine (Vol. 37, No. 5, October-November 2011): “Medium-dark purplish ruby; attractive, forward, intense, briary, blackberry jam aroma; full body; big, forward, rich, concentrated, very ripe blackberry fruit flavors with firm acidity; medium-full to full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Very highly recommended, though controversial with some tasters marking it down for a slightly pruney character.” (Group Score: 16.0, 2/2/1; My Score: 17 [90/100], first place)
Wine Spectator (23 September 2011, web only): “Bold and a bit exotic, offering blackberry cobbler and Asian spice aromas, with rich, layered flavors of wild berry, licorice and peppered beef that finish with sturdy but ripe tannins. Drink now through 2017.” -Tim Fish (Rated: 92)
Average Rating: 90.8
No. of Tasting Notes: 75
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