2017 Ridge Vineyards, Zinfandel, Pagani Ranch, Sonoma Valley.
The 2017 Pagani Ranch Zinfandel, made from 84% Zinfandel, 7% Petite Sirah and 7% Alicante Bouschet, is incredibly dark and purple hued in the glass with enticing aromas of crushed berries, seeped flowers, chocolate and brambly spices, all of which are echoed richly on the full bodied and supple palate that fills the mouth with black raspberries, sweet plum, creme de cassis, sandalwood, Turkish fig, sticky lavender and mocha notes. The historic Pagani Ranch was originally planted in the traditional way with interplanted black grapes and saw the main plantings beginning in the early part of the 20th century with many old zin vines being well over a hundred years old, which shows in the beautiful concentration and depth in this outstanding and classic Zin blend from Ridge, one of America’s greatest wineries. Like Lytton Springs, in Dry Creek, there is a good dose of Alicante Bouschet here, which acts like a secret sauce here and adds to magic, while the Petite Sirah adds color, chocolate and a bit of a backbone to this hedonistic vintage. Probably the last pick in Ridge’s Zin collection of vineyards, the Pagani, originally planted back in 1895, is always lush in texture, but still brightly focused with good natural acidity even in what would be considered a warm year, adding to the overall charm and balance, this wine should age well for another decade or more. These Ridge Zin based reds are pure California wines, bringing out the best of what the state has to offer and go great with our varied cuisine, though they are especially good with BBQ and or Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.

Angela and Felice Pagani came from Italy to Sonoma Valley in the late 1880s and purchased the ranch that now bears their name and is run by Felice’s granddaughter, Norma Pagani Amantite and her son Dino, who are carrying on the family’s heritage and traditions. Ridge has been making Pagani Zinfandel since 1991 and this vineyard on the western side of Sonoma Valley continues to be a star in their stellar offerings of Sonoma vineyard sites. The majority of the vineyard, set on Haire clay loams with a tiny amount of red soils, was planted ninety to one hundred twenty years ago, surviving though as Ridge notes, a few portions of it were replanted between 2013 and 2018, including many of Ridge’s sections. The hand harvested grapes were 100% de-stemmed and crushed with only native yeasts for a natural primary and natural malolactic fermentations, as the winery continues, the must was pumped over a floating cap and pressed at about nine days, enough time to go dry and extract the wine’s intense color then it was racked to 100% air-dried American oak barrels. The Ridge Pagani usually sees close to 15% new, 15% one-year-old, 20% two-year-old, 20% three-year-old,15% four-year-old, and 15% five-year-old wood with an elevage lasting fourteen months in the barrel before bottling. Ridge employs a low SO2 regime on all their wines to preserve the fresh fruit and keep the natural nuance of each vineyard site, with just enough new oak to provide a sense of refined elegance and luxuriousness, in this case, it shows to be well judged and subtly gives a smoky toastiness. While I loved the 2018s, this 2017, which maybe surprisingly has slightly lower alcohol, is showing extremely well and is full of pleasure.
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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