Paradise Ridge Hoenselaars Zinfandel

1 05 2008


Early in 2008, my wife and I revisited one of our favorite places: Sonoma Valley. We were lucky enough to meet many winemakers, taste their wines, tour their cellars/wineries, and get a general overall sense of who they are. One of the more interesting stops was at Paradise Ridge. The family-run winery is small, and in a very unusual, slightly out-of-the-way location, but they are producing some quality wines, and they have an excellent atmosphere. We were there during barrel tasting weekend, giving us the opportunity to sample some of their futures in addition to their current releases.

One wine that we brought home with us was their 2005 Hoenselaars vineyard zinfandel. The wine undergoes a multi-day cold soak followed by open-top co-fermentation of a field-blend consisting of 8% petite sirah, 4% syrah, and the remainder zinfandel. Right away I noticed a few things about the wines here. They are very clean and straightforward. Also, all the wines are produced with co-fermented fruit, so the varietal lines are very successfully blurred. The color on this wine is quite nice, with a soft, velvety dark hue and a near purple gemstone rim, it has a deep rich color that is very pleasing. Despite a high alcohol content of 14.5% the wine was well balanced. In fact, it felt so clean as to be almost a little boring. The fruit came through as roasted or very ripe (but not spoiled) and the tannins were minimal. The wild-berry and jammy qualities on the front and mid-palates were nice, and the fairly lengthy tannic finish was enjoyable.

Paradise Ridge Winery

This might be a personal thing, but I feel that the co-fermentation process muddles a wine. It seems confused as to what exactly it might really be. I enjoyed this wine but it did not amaze or astound at any level. The petite sirah seems to provide most of the backbone with the zinfandel bringing in the fruit qualities of the wine, but overall the extremely clean style feels almost Lysol fresh – sort of overly washed and scrubbed of all its innate qualities. As a younger winery with new facilities, I don’t know if the native yeasts are just falling a little short or if the wine was so strongly fined, filtered, and otherwise tidied up that it really fell short on the soul aspect.

To sum up: zinfandel, petite sirah, and syrah; 14.5% ABV; co-fermented in open tanks. This is a very clean wine that needs to loosen up a little. It is soft roasted and highly ripened fruits like wild berries and dark cherries. A good, solid wine, not excellent, but certainly very good. From the winery, cost was US$32.

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