Sunday, July 7, 2013

Paradigm Winery, May 14, 2013

Winery - 4 / Wines - 7
Range:  1 to 9 (9 is best, 5 is average)
Hidden away from the main road, friendly staff and adorable dogs.  Cabernet, Cab Franc, Merlot, and Zinfandel

I first discovered some half-bottles of Paradigm Cabernet Sauvignon back in 2007 and was impressed with their wonderful, structured, balanced, and delicious 2003 vintage.  But, it wasn’t until three years later that I would actually visit the winery at the south edge of Oakville.  The first time you visit Paradigm, the winery will be difficult to find, no matter how well you have prepared (unless you use GPS).  Dwyer Lane, which is home to Paradigm winery, comes and goes in a flash as you speed up Highway 29 from Yountville.  On my second visit, I remember processing the road sign in the back of my mind about a quarter-mile beyond the turn when it dawned on me that I had missed it.  That taught me well and now I know precisely what to look for and when to prepare for my turn.  Of course, some of Napa Valley’s best jewels are hidden from the main road and worth the extra effort to find them.

The entry to Paradigm Winery
As you pull into the driveway at Paradigm Winery, proceed cautiously as there may be friendly Labradors on the loose.  If you enjoy dogs, then you will undoubtedly enjoy your visit here.  If you are not fond of dogs, a kind word to the staff will ensure that these kind creatures cause you no bother.  The building is modestly designed with a primary focus on purpose, and secondary on style.  This is not to say that the facilities are ugly in any way – on the contrary, the building is beautiful and elegant in its simplicity and quality.  The tasting room reflects this same modesty.  More of a large foyer than a salon, the tasting room accommodates six guests comfortably (standing).  The room features large windows that look out to the west over the estate’s vineyards.  The walls are a basic off-white that maintains a bright feel, while the polished concrete floor adds an earthy warmth and allows the wooden furnishings to stand out.  A large area rug occupies the middle of the room, though one must wonder if this is to add color and absorb ambient noises or to provide a comfortable spot for the dogs to relax in between tastings.  Just off the tasting room is the winemaker’s bench, where you can sometimes observe the analysis and blending of new juice before committing it to bottle.

Inside the Paradigm Winery tasting room
For tasting the entire lineup of Paradigm wines, I arrived a bit late.  It seems they had recently sold out of their delicious Merlot and Zinfandel wines, leaving only the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.  I started with the 2009 Cabernet Franc and followed it with the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, which I preferred.  Then, to ensure that my visit to the winery was well worthwhile, they poured me a taste of their 2000 Merlot.  Before tasting this wine, I was skeptical as I have had too many disappointing wines from the 2000 vintage.  But this wine was quite surprising with its lush, smooth fruits and terrific balance.  It was my favorite of the flight (though I actually brought home a couple of half-bottles of the Cabernet Sauvignon).

Based on this experience, I would rate the winery as a 4 and the wines offered as a 7.  This has been consistent as long as I have been visiting Paradigm Winery.

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