2001 Edmeades, Ciapusci Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge Zinfandel
Those who know me know that I’ve been on a quest of sorts. I’ve been trying to find an elusive taste – that of the “1997 EDMEADES MENDOCINO RIDGE ZINFANDEL.” While the mind goes dim, I really do remember a huge, bold, meaty, complex, and very peppery – in fact, very hot Zinfandel with not a hint of raisins or prunes to be found.
At the end of March, I was able to discuss my quest with Van Williamson, who is the wine maker from EDMEADES. He was in town for a tasting of his wines. One of the wines that he poured was a 2001 Mendocino Ridge Zinfandel. He talked a lot about it, and is very proud of it. When he asked the crowd what they thought, they went wild. They loved the wine. after the noise settled down, I meekly raised my hand to get his attention, and sheepishly admitted that I didn’t care for it. He asked me if I could explain why I didn’t like it. I told him that to me, it tasted pruney or raisiny or perhaps very much like a port.
He absolutely agreed with me. He said that he likes the fact that a typical wine connoisseur “as well as a red-neck beer drinker will like this wine.” There are a few of us out there that like something else.
What I didn’t understand before that night is that there is more than one EDMEADES Mendocino Ridge Zinfandel.
There is a Mendocino Ridge Alden Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge Zeni Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge Ciapusci Vineyard, and just a plain Mendocino Ridge.
Mendocino Ridge is a fairly new appellation. (I think that he said that it was recognized in 1999 – but don’t quote me on that one.)
I told him that I really liked the 1997 for its pepper and high alcohol content without the sweetness or jamminess of the 2001.
He knows what he’s produced. He said that the one that I liked is the Ciapusci Vineyard. It is known for being more earthy and peppery. I questioned that a bit, and he said that I would probably like the non-single vineyard Mendocino Ridge Zinfandel, but it is a blend of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. (Suggesting that the Petite Sirah might be adding what I like.)
That would be okay, but the 1997 wasn’t a blend… The Ciapusci is 100% Zinfandel from 121 year-old vines (the 2001 vintage.) So he really thinks that is the name of the one that I liked. The problem is that for the 2001 vintage, only 397 cases were produced. The vines are about two feet tall, and the crews have to go through to pick fruit five different times.
So back to my quest. The store where we had the tasting didn’t have any of the Ciapusci. However, the competition across town did have some. So I bought some.
The 2001 Edmeades, Ciapusci Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge Zinfandel is not the same as the 1997 that I remember. And I have to temper my disappointment a little because I’ve had some very nice Howell Mountain Zinfandels as of late, and they cloud my judgment a little bit.
So, I’m going do something that was recently suggested by someone who knows a whole lot about judging and rating wines. I’m going to start with a perfect score, then see what things would cause me to take points away. Here goes.
First the appearance. This wine is clear with the deep red color that we expect from a Zinfandel. In fact it is better than most, but perhaps not the best. I’ll give it 2.5 out of 3 points for appearance.
Next is the aroma. This wine is hot. Its alcohol level is 16.7% and you can tell in the first whiff. So I let it sit for a few minutes and then came back to it. The aroma has the characteristics of a big and very complex Zinfandel. There is a lot of blackberry, but there is a touch of something sweet, like raisins there too. I’m going to knock a point off for that. I’m going to call it 5 out of 6 points for aroma.
Taste – As I said, this one is hot. I like hot! There is a berry, I’m not sure which, but it isn’t the blackberry that I smelled in the aroma, but it isn’t quite raspberry either. The wine seems to be very well-balanced with nice tannins. But there is a touch of those raisins in there. I’ll say the taste is excellent but not outstanding. I say 5 out of 6 points for the taste.
Finish – I like the long, hot finish on this one. Without any further comment, I’ll just say that I’m giving it 3 out of 3 points for the finish.
Overall impression – I like this wine. I’d buy more, if I run out of it soon, or perhaps I’ll wait to see how they do next year. Anyway, I say 2 out of 2 points for this one.
Total – so when I add it up, that’s 17.5 out of 20 possible points. With an objective view, this one goes into my outstanding category, even if it isn’t what I was looking for. But, the quest continues…