Wine Tasting Notes, 2008: Paradigm Winery

ParadigmI had visited so many tasting rooms this summer that it was often difficult for me to keep this blog totally up to date. Keep in mind, what you read on these pages only represents a fraction of the entire story. Living in the Napa Valley, I’ve always had so much material to draw upon that I decided to focus mainly on the positive, since it’s much more constructive to recommend something that’s good than to speak out against something that’s not so good.

Surprisingly, I had failed to mention Paradigm Winery after I had visited them this summer. I’m not sure exactly how that happened, but I guess I had only written that review in my mind. In truth, Paradigm is a winery that I recommend fairly frequently. I think that in many ways, it is exactly the kind of winery that people who visit the Napa Valley hope to discover (at least for those less interested in paying homage to the likes of Mondavi and Beringer).

Nestled against the base of the Mayacamas Mountains, the Paradigm property occupies 55 acres of prime Oakville real estate, and has been farmed by Ren Harris for more than 30 years. In a typical season, the winery will use less than half of its fruit for its own releases, selling the lion’s share of its grapes to a handful of other top Napa Valley labels. In terms of the wine itself, legendary winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett consults at Paradigm, which produces only about 5,000 cases annually.

Paradigm offers just four wines each year, with Cabernet Sauvignon representing about 80% of the winery’s total production. I tasted the 2004 Paradigm Cabernet today, and I was pleased with its balance and elegance. This wine is further proof that there are plenty of great Napa Cabs in the $60 range (I am compiling a short list of these wines for January). I also sampled the 2005 Paradigm Zinfandel, which featured a cookie-spice nose and a bright cherry palate. The Zin is blended with 12% Cabernet Franc, which is an unusual blending grape for this varietal, but the formula definitely works.

And so today, I purchased the 2004 Paradigm Cabernet. Lately, I have begun to prefer subtlety and finesse over heavy-duty extraction, and this wine certainly fits the bill. I enjoyed the 2005 Paradigm Zin as well, but I still have the bottle that I purchased during my visit this summer. Plus, I’m already swimming in Zinfandel as it is.

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