Sunday, October 13, 2013

Imagine Wine 2007 Winged Paradise Mountain Syrah Release Night

This past Friday night, October 13th, I was fortunate to participate in a special #winechat featuring Imagine Wine and their '07 Winged Paradise Mountain Syrah ($80). While proprietor Ross Rankin hosted a release party at the Santa Ynez tasting room, about a dozen bloggers from across the U.S. joined Twitter and\or Skype to taste and discuss the wine. During the evening we learned more about Rankin, and his wife Lyn Dee; the Paradise Mountain Vineyard and Syrah; as well as Rankin's transparency in describing his winemaking process.

Paradise Mountain Vineyard looking North
- photo courtesy of Imagine Wine
The Rankins started the winery in 2004 and Ross received wine-making experience through stints at several Santa Ynez wineries.  Eventually they purchased the land that would become Paradise Mountain Vineyard (just off Highway 154 in the Rancho San Luis Rey), which is now planted with 7 acres of Viognier and 12 acres of Syrah. And to produce Winged Paradise Mountain Syrah, Rankin utilizes several unorthodox techniques. The grape is harvested with low acidity (high PH) which  would normally be problematic during fermentation because it leads to increased risk of oxidation and bacterial
Syrah grapes looking East
- photo courtesy of Imagine Wine
growth. Yet, Ross is able to ferment this Syrah for almost a month, whereas normal fermentation usually occurs within one to two weeks. Because of the high PH, the wine does not get bitter during this longer fermentation and instead, according to Rankin, "pulls flavor, color, and also macerates the grapes in such a way that it produces an unfiltered wine that is 'heavy' and particle laden". The fermented wine is then aged in a combination of oak treatments and remained in barrel until the recent bottling. This multi-year storage added $12,000 to the production costs and accounts for much of the $80 price tag.

07 Winged Paradise Mountain Syrah
- photo courtesy of Imagine Wine
I opened the 07 Winged Paradise Mountain Syrah about 30 minutes prior the release party, an act I could have conducted even earlier. The Syrah definitely needed time to breathe, and over the course of the night exuded different characteristics in the nose and finish. It started out a fruit forward wine in the nose in the palette with a dark berry (blueberry & blackberry) characters and a hot finish (16% alcohol) with plenty of acid - even with the high PH - and plenty of spices. Over time, chocolate flavors emerged in the nose and palette and the alcohol and acids receded in the tail, although the spicy finish remained. Some of us agreed that the finish resembled a Paso Robles styled Zinfandel, and from a previous #winestudio chat, the finish seemed to me to resemble a Croatian Plavac Mali.  In total, this is a well made wine and in the words of MyVineSpot: "Good concentration of fruit, depth and length. Round around the edges and handles the 15.5% well."

"Winged Series 2" Sculpture
- photo courtesy of Imagine Wine

The label is also worth mentioning as it is based on the “Winged Series 2” sculpture created by Rankin's son Blake in his Santa Barbara Rankin Sculpture studio. Pretty cool; made from marble imported from Carrera Italy.  Cheers to the wine making and sculpting Rankin family. Oh, and thanks for the 2007 Imagine Wine Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon (review coming later).

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