Paradigm Winery

Paradigm Winery

Paradigm Winery  

(par’ – a – dime) noun. An example that serves as a pattern or model. A pattern for perfection…

Paradigm Winery, located in the Oakville appellation of Napa Valley, handcrafts small quantities of estate-bottled red wine. We’re known for our Merlot and our Cabernet Sauvignon, though we also produce a tiny amount of Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc. Regardless of the varietal, our wines are a rich expression of the vineyard we’ve been farming now for twenty-nine years.

Paradigm Winery is owned and managed by Ren and Marilyn Harris, two winegrowers with extraordinarily deep roots in Napa Valley. Marilyn’s grandparents immigrated from Italy to Napa Valley in 1890, while Ren’s family came to California in 1769. Marilyn and Ren purchased Paradigm Vineyards in 1976, and began producing wine with the 1991 vintage. Since that first vintage, the wines have been made by renowned winemaker, Heidi Peterson Barrett. Heidi’s father, Dick Peterson, was instrumental in laying out and designing the winery.

2009 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, OAKVILLE

paradigm cabernet

The highly touted 2009 vintage produced big, lush, fully ripe wines that are well balanced and worthy of aging. Our ’09 Paradigm Cab has dark garnet color with a black cherry, berry, and cedar aroma. While big, ripe and rich, the wine shows power and a silky, smooth texture. Tannins are structural and should help this wine last several decades. Flavors are layered from this Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Verdot blend. Explosive, ripe fruit flavors marry with toasty French oak, moderate textural tannins, and good length. It is destined to be a classic vintage.

Wine Jargon: What Is Tannin?

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Tannin, n.

A diverse and complex group of chemical compounds that occur in the bark of many trees and in fruits. Strictly speaking, a tannin is a compound that is capable of interacting with proteins and precipitating them, this is the basis of the process of tanning animal hides (hence the name tannin) and is also a process that is believed to be responsible for the sensation of astringency.”—Jancis RobinsonThe Oxford Companion to Wine

Fundamentals, people. We’re focusing on fundamentals. You can slam-dunk later on.

I’m sure you know this word already. Tannin was likely the first piece of wine vocab you learned. It was definitely the first term I absorbed. The word served as explanation for why I didn’t like that French red at that house party, the one nursed from the bottle, age twenty. My face had contorted, and someone pointed out Oh, that’s tannin, bro. Allow me to expand on that first lesson…

You are probably already skilled at identifying the sensation of tannin, that drying astringency mostly associated with red wines. However, red wine is not the only place you encounter the stuff. Black tea has tannin in spades (especially when oversteeped), as does the skin of a peanut. The skins of common apple varieties are always a bit tannic, but the tannin of crabapples and traditional cider apples is usually so intense (especially with their soaring levels of acidity) that it makes them pretty much inedible.

Tannin exists in the skin, seeds, and stems of grapes. Red wines get color and tannin by soaking these components in the fermenting juice. White juice usually ferments on its own, away from all that material, so they don’t show much tannin (although there is usually still a touch). There’s also tannin in the oak barrels that wine is sometimes aged in—how much depends on how the barrels were made and whether they’ve been used in winemaking before. Tannin is one of the main things that allows a red wine to age, with acidity being the other. These two become the framework upon which the fancier thing, fruit, is draped.

Why is one wine more tannic than another? Ugh, that’s a huge question, even for science, but grape variety will be the most important factor (compare the very tannic Nebbiolo of Italy‘s Piedmont against their softer Barbera, if you feel like it). Growing site, winemaking technique, and ripeness also seem to affect how much tannin makes it into the wine, while our old pal acidity seems to enhance our perception of it. It all begins to interconnect…

About the Author: Steven Grubbs is a sommelier and wine director at Empire State South (Atlanta, GA) and Five & Ten (Athens, GA). Ask him what to drink on Twitter, where he also accepts questions on tacos and manhood.