It’s not very often that I get to taste a library Paso Robles zinfandel. You’ll probably be able to tell that I rather enjoyed the opportunity!
2005 Ridge Vineyards Paso Robles (library release)
An emphasis on concentration, structure, depth, and intensity was paramount to the process of bringing this zinfandel to bottle, particularly as regards how the juice was handled in the winery. Small tank fermentations, submerged skins, and the inclusion of a majority of press wine all contribute to a varietal zinfandel of notable compression and richness; one that is truly authentic to its central coast micro-climate. That a designation notable for its front-and-center fruit-driven opulence should be showing all these same traits with 5+ years of bottle age under its belt is particularly noteworthy. The aromatics are still plush with plum and cherry notes, and the garnet belly and mauve limn bespeak a host of fruit still on offer. Front of palate affirms this prediction with a healthy dose of ripe, succulent fruit and a pleasingly oleaginous mouthfeel. What is particularly fascinating is the subtle emergence of spice and tobacco notes that begin to permeate the aromatics with a bit of time; after tasting two bottles, our recommendation is double-decanting, with a good 20-40 minute breathing session to follow. The spice notes filter into the front-palate, but really begin to take root in the middle; here is where fruit and spice intensely co-mingle, and the results are both easily pleasant and complexly head-turning; just as one’s palate is set to bask in the plushness, a new piquancy emerges. The finish wraps up a fine narrative of approachability hybridized to complexity; a very pleasant surprise for a designation usually noted for its ripeness of fruit and fleshiness of mouthfeel. Not a timid wine by any means, but with a bit of maturation, a wine that has definitively laid additional tracks across its otherwise fruit-forward landscape.