Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Paradigm Napa Valley Oakville Merlot 1996

Paradigm Napa Valley Oakville Merlot 1996

Paradigm Ren Harris, Linda
and Rick, 1999
I opened this for drinking with leftover beef tenderloin from the weekend. We tasted and acquired this wine during a visit to the Paradigm Estate and vineyards with proprietors Ren and Marilyn Harris during our Napa Valley Wine Experience back in 1999. Ren and Marilyn had owned and operated various properties in Napa Valley since 1964 and purchased the Paradigm property in 1975. The '91 release was the inaugural vintage for Paradigm.

Paradigm Winery is in the Oakville appellation of Napa Valley. Owned and managed by Ren and Marilyn Harris, both of whom come from long-time Napa Valley families, they bought the 55 acres of vineyards vineyards in 1976 and began making wine in 1991. 
They hired winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett in 1991 and she went on to become one of the area’s winemaking stars. The estate vineyards are planted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel and Petite Verdot. The estate makes about 6,000 cases of wine a year. 
The vineyards are located a couple hundred yards west of Brix Restaurant and Piazza Del Dotto accessible from the north off Dwyer Road.  

Paradigm Napa Valley Oakville Estate Merlot 1996

The legendary Heidi Barrett has been winemaker at Paradigm since their first vintage back in 1991. That year they started producing their own wine from their own estate grown grapes instead of selling them to other producers.

A Napa Valley native and a graduate of UC Davis, Heidi went on to be winemaker for some of Napa Valley’s most highly-regarded and well known wineries. Her current wine projects include Amuse Bouche, Fantesca, Lamborn, Kenzo Estate, Au Sommet, Vin Perdu - as well as her own labels, La Sirena and Barrett & Barrett. She gained fame and notoriety working with Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Jones Family, Grace Family, Vineyard 29, David Arthur, Barbour Vineyards and Showket.

Winemaker Notes - Quite dark in color with deep ripe aromas of chocolate covered black cherries. Enticing fruit nose and layers of spice and toasty oak add up to a wonderful rich complex aroma profile. Flavors match the aromas in a mouth coating, textural, silky and tasty wine. This wine is loaded with aging potential.

Wine Spectator gave this 91 points and projected it would be best from 2000 through 2008.

While this is still drinking nicely at twenty four years, since our last tasting two years ago, it continues to show it age with further diminution of the balance and fruit. It has passed its prime and should be consumed over the next couple of years. 

Like the last opening, the cork was in fine condition but darkening to a tobacco color, there was ever-so-slight rust tinge color on the rim, and the fruits were starting to give way a bit to non-fruit tones of smoke, cedar, leather, tobacco and hints of creosote. It was still very enjoyable and holding on but needs to be consumed before it deteriorates too much further.

Garnet colored with the slight rust hue, medium bodied, blackberry flavors with tones of tart cherry and currant fruits, accents of cedar tobacco, leather and a hint of spice turning to herb accents on a lingering slightly tart acidic tannin finish.

RM 89 points, reduced from 91 points two years ago, aging diminution or perhaps bottles variation.