Friday, June 10, 2016

Mendocino County Zinfandel: Edmeades Shamrock 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 Shamrock Zinfandel 2013

The elevation on the Shamrock vineyard -  2,900 feet - makes the young site one of the highest in Mendocino County. Planted in 2001, the vineyard is part of a 17,000-acre ranch of forest and grassland that also sports 300 head of cattle. Mike Prescott oversees the grapes as well as the cows.

The wine consists of 97% Zinfandel, with the remainder being Syrah. 15 months in oak, mostly neutral French and American. It has an alcohol content of 15.5% abv and the 250 cases produced sell at retail for $31.

If you want a Zinfandel that delivers its elegance in a closed fist, here it is. It’s like a great looking guy wearing a tuxedo a half size too small. It’s ready for action, just not the action it was expecting.  The nose is incredibly perfumed, shielding layer after layer of spice. There is a savory aspect here that tempers the fruit, a youthful exuberance that spits in the general direction of Perli and Gianoli vineyards. It’s a brash and brawny wine, with toothy tannins, enough to rope and hogtie a rowdy steer. It’s probably a bit much for the lentil soup, but fire up the grill and throw some rosemary in there with the beef.