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Ridge Pagani Ranch Zinfandel 1994

Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
  • RP91
  • WS90
0% ABV
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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 is home to both Buena Vista winery, California's oldest commercial winery, and Gundlach Bundschu winery, California's oldest family-run winery.

It is also one of the more geologically and climactically diverse districts. The valley includes and overlaps four distinct Sonoma County sub-appellations, including Carneros, Moon Mountain District, Sonoma Mountain and Bennett Valley. With mountains, benchlands, plains, abundant sunshine and the cooling effects of the nearby Pacific, this appellation can successfully produce a wide range of grape varieties. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, and most notably, Zinfandel all thrive here. Ancient Zinfandel vines over 100 years old produce small crops of concentrated, spicy fruit, which in turn make some of the Valley's most unique wines. These can also be made as “field blends” (wines made from a mix of grape varieties grown in the same vineyard) along with Petite Sirah, Carignan and Alicante Bouschet.

Zinfandel

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Unapologetically bold, spice-driven and jammy, Zinfandel is often thought of as California’s flagship grape. And it fact it owns this title by having the ability to adapt to the states’ many microclimates and landscapes, producing unique expressions of the grape throughout. Zinfandel thrives in California’s Central Coast, as well throughout Sonoma County, parts of Napa Valley, the Sierra Foothills, Lodi and Paso Robles.

Zinfandel was born in Croatia and later made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. The astute imperial nursery of Vienna collected specimens of the vine and acted as the source of its journey to New England, carried by George Gibbs circa 1829. Eventually, making its way to California around the Gold Rush of 1849, Zinfandel found its new home, parading the true American spirit.

In the Glass

Zinfandel commonly expresses powerful notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, dark chocolate and licorice. Very ripe examples may express a hint of dried fruit like raisin, fig or prune. But Zinfandel grown in cooler, coastal zones often expresses red fruit, black pepper and fresh herbal characteristics of juniper and menthol.

Perfect Pairings

Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs or anything barbecued. More delicate Zins work with pork, lamb curry and even Ceasar Salad or Salad Nicoise.

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, ancient vines tend to produce wine that is deeply concentrated, delicately perfumed and decidedly complex.

MLNPAGANI_1994 Item# 125220