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Flat front label of wine
Flat front label of wine

Ridge Pagani Ranch Zinfandel 1994

Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
  • RP91
  • WS90
0% ABV
  • V94
  • JD94
  • WS93
  • WW91
  • WS90
  • CG91
  • WS92
  • WS88
  • CG95
  • CG93
  • W&S91
  • CG95
  • RP91
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0% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Deep strawberry-red color; full, viscous, with rich, sweet boysenberry fruit; earth, leather notes; structured for a Pagani, with firm acid and chalky tannins; tea and tobacco leaf; black confiture; excellent long sweet/sour balance on finish; great peppercorn and truffle oil nose; shows exotic Pagani terroir; not as ripe as usual, but still shows classic boysenberry, blackberry, and peppery old-vine Zin character; some austerity with tannins.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 91
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
So what's new? Once again, winemaker Paul Draper has produced five beautifully made, rich, distinctive Zinfandels. The outstanding 1994 Zinfandel Pagani Ranch (75% Zinfandel, 18% Mataro, 4% Alicante, 3% Petite Sirah) is the most forceful Ridge Zinfandel as it achieved 14.7% natural alcohol. It is a rich, dense, full-bodied, sweet (from grape maturity, not sugar), jammy Zinfandel with gobs of ostentatiously-styled, in-your-face characteristics. This bold, flashy wine is sure to win many a blind tasting. I believe Paul Draper's decision to add a healthy dose of Mataro has given this wine more delineation and structure than it has possessed in past vintages.
WS 90
Wine Spectator
Firm and intense, with a tight core of leathery currant, herb and cedary oak flavors that open up to reveal more depth and richness just before the tannins kick in.
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Ridge
Ridge, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
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Ridge's history begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone, a doctor and prominent member of San Francisco's Italian community, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He planted vineyards and constructed a winery of redwood and native limestone in time to produce the first vintage of Monte Bello in 1892. The historic building now serves as the Ridge production facility.

Though Ridge began as a Cabernet winery, by the mid-60s, it had produced several Zinfandels including the Geyserville. In 1972, Lytton Springs joined the line-up and the two came to represent an important part of Ridge production. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of Chardonnay since 1962.

The Ridge approach is straightforward: find the most intense and flavorful grapes, guide the natural process, draw all the fruit's richness into the wine. Decisions on when to pick, when to press, when to rack, what varietals and what parcels to include and when to bottle, are based on taste. To retain the nuances that increase complexity, Ridge winemakers handle the grapes and wine as gently as possible. There are no recipes, only attention and sensitivity.

Sonoma Valley

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Perhaps the most historically significant appellation in Sonoma County, the Sonoma Valley AVA was first planted with vines by Franciscan monks in 1823. It was the site of one of California’s first successful commercial wineries, and the region where French oak barrels were first utilized for aging California wines, thus creating the rich and voluptuous style of Chardonnay the state has become known for.

This geologically and climactically diverse district is capable of producing a wide variety of wines, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, and, most notably, Zinfandel, where ancient vines over 100 years old produce small crops of concentrated, spicy fruit. These are commonly produced as “field blends” along with Petite Sirah, Carignan, and other dark-fruited varieties.

Zinfandel

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Unapologetically powerful, heady, and fruit-forward, Zinfandel is often thought of as a truly Californian grape, though in fact it is anything but. This variety has followed an intriguing trajectory to reach its adoptive home, beginning, surprisingly, in Croatia. Originally known as Tribidrag, it first made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. From there it eventually migrated to what is now unarguably its most successful outpost, in California, and has thrived throughout the state. Of course, this is also the grape of White Zinfandel, a sweet pink wine that enjoyed great popularity in the 1980s and 90s. Though White Zin still has a significant following, today the variety is increasingly associated with the red version.

In the Glass

Zinfandel commonly features a bold, plush texture and notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, black pepper, dark chocolate, leather, and licorice, and can often be described as “jammy” and a little bit sweet. Very ripe examples may express a hint of dried fruit like raisin, fig, or prune. Despite its significant alcohol and weight, Zinfandel has very smooth, gentle tannins.

Perfect Pairings

Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs, or anything barbecued. If care is taken with regards to alcohol levels, Zinfandel’s hint of sweetness can work well with milder Indian-spiced dishes like lamb curry.

Sommelier Secret

Thanks to its popularity both for home winemaking and as communion wine, many Zinfandel vines were able to survive prohibition, leading to the abundance of "old vine" Zinfandels. These low-yielding vines tend to produce wine that is concentrated, complex, and elegant.

MLNPAGANI_1994 Item# 125220