We here at Ridge Vineyards are very excited about the new 2008 Buchignani Ranch zinfandel, and the fact that it’s about to drop live into our tasting rooms. In anticipation of its arrival, I gathered together some of my Monte Bello colleagues over the weekend for a tasting of this new ATP offering, and hauled out the old Royal to try and transcribe the thoughts and reactions as they happened in real-time.
First word/Best word.
Accordingly, as I’m a bit of a sloppy typer, the original notes are periodically a tad indecipherable, but for the sake of historical accuracy, I have included a scan of the original notes at the end of this post. Here first though, is a proper “translation” of sorts (and bear in mind, this is a compendium of many perspectives and voices!):
2008 Ridge Vineyards Buchignani Ranch Zinfandel
Nice, solid burgundy coloration in the glass, medium-weight legs moving with reasonable speed, and an overall sense of finessed concentration bespeak a Buchignani of arguably unusual power; not that the “zin buch” (as it is oft referred to internally) doesn’t always show good intensity — it does — but it traditionally does so in a comparatively refined package, albeit with a healthy dose of rusticity, particularly as regards the aromatics.
Anyhow, speaking of aromatics, this is a richly inviting nose, heavy with pipe tobacco, black cherries, fig, and cocoa powder. Point-of-entry mouthfeel stays in this intense vein, devouring all flavor sensors upon arrival, and laying acidity and tannins on all reachable palate points.
Mid-palate actually contracts slightly, focusing the heady fruit flavors right on the tongue.
As the wine begins to expand again toward the back of the palate, the unmistakable resonance of ollalieberry pie stands front and center; hints of sweet bread crust, brambly forest berry fruit, a touch of sweet berry sugar, some nice, woody-seedy tannins, and an overall freshness that is truly beguiling in a plink-plank-plunk-in-the-pail sort of way (alert: Blueberries for Sal reference!).
Going back to the aromatics again, there is a crisper, more minty clarity emerging; cool, icy, almost crisp; Gravenstein apples come to mind, as do frozen blueberries over full cream Greek yogurt; possibly reminisce more than actual character, but inviting either way.
Past Zin Buchs have sometimes veered towards the almost misleadingly funky (meaning, funky on the nose, but streamlined on the palate); this vintage, however, is very mineral-dominant aromatically, giving what is a most beguilingly effective and authentic preliminary presentation. Hints of light pepper serve up additinal complexities, particularly with the emergence of an almost white pepper-esque duskiness.
And now, returning for a second visit to mouthfeel and front-to-mid-palate; there is noticeably more concentration and succulence showing itself; the fruit is getting richer, the viscosity is weightening, and the darker, more anise-and-jelly notes are really driving the character.
This is probably most reminiscent of the 2004 Zin Buch (my personal all time favorite vintage! — cw), though it veers slightly darker in overall tonal profile.
Above all else, what is most singularly astounding about this wine is the shape and placement of the tannins; they’re incredibly refined, light, almost airy, yet somehow fully present anyway, in all their gossamer elegance …
Thinking now on the finish, we’re right back to berry, though more notably blueberry-esque at this point, as opposed to the ollallieberry flavors that dominated earlier.
All in all, this is a fantastic return to the ’04 form, and should be greeted by all with fanfare and delight. While we’ll miss the 2007, and thank it for its funky, old-world-in-a-softer-package style; its rock n’ roll in a steady-rollin’ package, its streamlinedly-rendered old school funky self, it’s also safe to say we are highly anticipating the arrival of the ‘new 08 in the tasting rooms.
We think you’ll like it too, and hope you can come see us before this limited-production, winery-only gem sells itself out too.