Rich Parducci could drive a tractor before a car.
With three generations behind him in the wine industry, Parducci said he has winemaking in his blood.
Parducci crafted our wine-of-the-week winner – the McNab, 2013 Family Reserve Mendocino Old Vine Zinfandel at $26.
The wine is a bit of a surprise, an old vine zin that’s less rugged and more elegant. While it has concentrated fruit, balance is its charm, thanks to an underpinning of bright acid. It has flavors of cherry and dark cherry, with notes of toast and spice in the mix. It’s pretty.
Parducci said the house style he’s shooting for is balanced.
“Seems simplistic I’m sure, but that’s what makes wine enjoyable to me,” he said. We make five zinfandels, each very different from the others, but all balanced (in my opinion). The old vine zinfandel is a bigger style, a more complex wine than our mainline McNab Mendocino zinfandel. Therefore it is capable of carrying higher alcohol and bigger tannins while maintaining balance.”
The winemaker said his strength is recognizing vineyards and growers who produce great fruit.
“Mendocino County is blessed with numerous areas that produce outstanding zinfandel,” Parducci said. “My family, having been here since 1921, has had an opportunity to make zinfandel from a great many of the vineyards in our region and consequently continued to maintain relationships with these growers for literally decades.”
What the uninitiated don’t know about zinfandel, Parducci said, is how versatile the grape is.
“From blush white zinfandel to red wine, to late harvest and port – it can all be made from zinfandel,” he said. “And zinfandel, primitivio, crljenak kastelanski and tribidrag are all the same variety.”
Parducci, 51, graduated with a degree in enology from Fresno State in 1992. Today his title is winemaker and managing partner of McNab Ridge Winery in Ukiah.
The winemaker said he’s had to learn a few tricks over the years because the old vines can present a challenge.
“These older vines take longer to mature, which is why I feel they have more character,” he said. “What also happens, though, is that some berries on the clusters start to dimple, if not raisin, prior to the rest of the fruit maturing. These little, extra sweet berries start releasing their sugar as the fermentation progresses, making it difficult to gauge exactly where the fermentation will end in terms of alcohol. It is a balancing act so we monitor it carefully.”