Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Mendocino County Zinfandel: Edmeades Gianoli Vineyard

Mendocino County has a rich history dating back through the Pomos Indians, Spanish explorers, timber cutters and gold rushers.  It was in the latter part of the 19th century that Italian immigrants began to come to California in droves, and many settled in the rolling hills of Mendocino County. For Italians looking to make themselves feel at home in a new land, grapevines were a big item, of course.

Farther inland from the Anderson Valley Pinots and Chardonnays are the Zinfandel vineyards of Mendocino. Edmeades was founded by a Pasadena cardiologist in 1963, making him a real modern-day pioneer of Mendocino wines.

Vineyards like Gianoli, Perli, and Piffero still mark the region’s immigrant influence. A few of Edmeades’ single-vineyard Zinfandels were supplied to me for the purpose of this series.  Using grapes grown in Mendocino County’s rugged coastal mountains, Edmeades is known for limited bottlings of Zinfandels that are expressive and distinct. Winemaker Ben Salazar likes the grapes to do the talking, so he uses a light touch in the cellar.

Edmeades Gianoli Zinfandel 2013

The Gianoli family homesteaded this ranch in 1882, planting 20 acres of Zinfandel.  According to the winery, the vineyard can be reached only by way of an old dirt road winding through forests of Redwood and Douglas fir. The grapes grow at an elevation of about 1,900 feet, almost always above the thick fogs below. Owners Mike and Jenny Kelly (at right) say they love this place as much as any on earth.

The wine registers a super-ripe 15.5% abv that was aged in predominantly neutral oak, French and American. They only made 250 cases and it retails for $35.

This Zin expresses an amazing, brambly nose with spice and red fruit. The palate is bright and lively, showing cherry, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and chocolate leading to a long finish. It paired quite successfully with a pan-seared ribeye infused with blue cheese.