John On Wine – Spotlight winery: McNab Ridge Winery
This piece will run in the Ukiah Daily Journal weekly wine column on Thursday, January 29, 2015
Rich Parducci has a famous name, not just in Mendocino County, but in the world of California wine. John Parducci founded Parducci Wine Cellars, and was a genuine icon in the wine industry before his passing.
Together, after losing control of the eponymous winery, John and Rich Parducci started McNab Ridge Winery, and today Rich is both the winemaker and chief salesperson, traveling the country and pouring his wines for buyers.
I met Rich for a tasting of current releases at his beautifully appointed tasting room, a large yellow building with lots of warm wood, comfortable couches, and art on the walls, located on Highway 101 in downtown Hopland.
Let me start off by saying that I like Rich and I like his wines. Here are some brief tasting notes along with conversational snippets from my visit:
2013 Sauvignon Blanc – Grapefruit, pear, melon, grass, ultra ripe. Classic. White Oak Ranch.
Wine inspires conversation, and among the many topics we covered, Rich advocated cunjunctive labeling for Mendocino County wines, as is required in Sonoma County, to better let folks in the marketplace develop a greater awareness of Mendocino County as a wine region. With so much of Mendocino County’s grapes purchased by Napa and Sonoma County wineries for their wines, labeling some of the wines that are made here as Anderson Valley, or Redwood Valley, or as coming from an individual vineyard, rather than using Mendocino County on the label, hurts all the County’s wine makers. Like in Sonoma County, the more specific or smaller American Viticultural Area designation can be used, but only in addition, rather than instead of, the larger County appellation designation.
2013 Chardonnay – 100% barrel fermentation, 100% malolactic fermentation. Cream, butter, oak, nice apple and pear fruit. Napoli vineyard.
Tine’s White – Sweeter, but not too sweet, about 1% residual sugar, nice balancing acid, showing stone fruit nectarine, spicy floral notes.
2013 French Colombard – Rich described this wine, coming from 40 year old, head pruned, old vine Redwood Valley grapes, as “a patio pleaser.” Riesling-esque, Patty, our tasting room host, had my mouth watering as she described pairing it with a lemon grass and coconut scallop soup. Niemi Vineyard.
2012 Pinot Noir – Lighter styled, cherry, perfume, cigar, from a Russian River Valley vineyard near John Ash.
Fred’s Red – A dead solid, inexpensive everyday red wine for enjoying. Blackberry, Raspberry, Blueberry. Spice. Herb. Oak.
I asked Rich, noting the presence of oak in many of the wines tasted, about John’s general preference for minimally oaked or unoaked wines. Rich told me, “a lot of times, I would just do it and beg forgiveness later. John’s style is my style, showcase the fruit. If you mask it with oak, are you really being true to the grape? When you buy it, I want it to be enjoyable, approachable.” Rich has found a nice balance with his wines, and where oak is used it does not dominate the fruit, but adds a layer of flavor or body, in support of the wine.
2012 Pinotage – Smooth red fruit, dark berry, strawberry, rose. Napoli Vineyard.
Rich talked about the 2014 vintage: “some varieties sugar ripened so quick, fruit couldn’t keep up, herbaceous. A little more time, flavors matured.”
2011 Merlot – Soft, lovely Burgundy color, herb, spice, plummy cherry and soft berry.
2012 Zinzilla – 95% Mendocino, 5% Lodi. Spiced raspberry juice. Begging for burgers, brats, any grilled meat.
2012 Mendocino Zinfandel – Darker, pepper, lovely nose. Rich ripe berry fruit mouth.
2012 Cononiah Zinfandel – Lovely red purple color. Bright rich fruit. Oak.
2012 Old Vine Zinfandel – Bar-X Ranch, planted in 1939. Blackberry and raspberry, dusty cocoa.
2013 Old Vine Zinfandel – An early taste. LOVE IT. At 16% alcohol, I would often be a little scared, but this wine has fantastic balance and numbers mean nothing in the face of the lovely raspberry and strawberry fruit notes.
Rich commented, aware of my pleasure, “If you don’t have good grapes, you aren’t going to make good wine…it is the grapes.”
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – Oh, I wanted a plate of roast beef to enjoy with a glass of this dark red wine. Blackberry, cassis, dusty cherry, toasty oak.
2012 Mendo Largo – This reserve wine from Ruddick Vineyard spent 20 months in French oak, and is very nice, but tight. More bottle time will yield great rewards. Cocoa, thick, rich red.
2012 Petite Sirah – Rich told me, “my favorite is Petite.” This Petite has a great nose, shows tannin, and is decidedly dry. Dark, dark, dark. Earthy, berry and spice jam.
2013 Carisma – Juicy cranberry with a citrusy floral finish. Low achol, 9%. Second bleed off after fermentation on skins. 100% Syrah.
Rich described the Carisma as “a sweet, slightly effervescent red wine, meant to be chilled.”
2009 John Parducci Signature Series Port – Yummm. Sweet, not hot. Deliciously rich and complex. Bonus points for a Port made from Portugal’s grape varieties: 44% Touriga Nacional, 17% Touriga Francesca, 16% Tinta Barroca, 12% Tinta Cao, and 11% Tinta Roriz.
Torte Chocolate Port – Deep, delicious fruit, married to a tootsie roll. A Port blend similar to the one just described, but infused with premium chocolate.
For more information, visit Denise or Patty in the McNab Ridge Winery tasting room in Hopland for a wine tasting, or visit http://www.mcnabridge.com
Rich is also a Board member of Zinfandel Advocates & Producers, ZAP, the industry’s promotional organization for the Zinfandel grape variety and the wine it makes.
Rich will be pouring at ZAP’s Zinfandel Experience at the Presidio in San Francisco this weekend, on Saturday, January 31, from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm, and I will be there to taste all of the wines made from Mendocino County’s grapes, plus Zinfandel made by some of my favorite producers from outside the area.
The Tasting is a great opportunity to taste an astounding assortment of Zinfandel wine, poured by winery owners and winemakers, and tickets are still available at http://www.zinfandelexperience.com/#!purchase-tickets/cnye with prices ranging from $70 to $170 for a day’s tasting.