Wine of the week: Edmeades, 2007 Mendocino County Zinfandel

Van Williamson likes to make wine for rookies and connoisseurs alike. While the chasm between those two palates may seem as deep as the Grand Canyon, Williamson bridges the gap. How? With a recipe, of course.

Williamson is the winemaker behind our wine of the week winner - the Edmeades, 2007 Mendocino County Zinfandel at $20 - a wine with the ingredients to pique the interest of both novice and expert.

"We do not acidulate our wines and we process our grapes such that the tannins are soft and supple," he said. "These are things that all novice drinkers like, soft fruity wines. .

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. We hook the connoisseurs by using only native yeast and blending several other varietals with the zinfandel. The native yeast tends to not focus the fruit as much in one direction and broadens the aroma and flavor profile of the wine." Just how do the native yeasts tame the fruit?To give the little "chimps" complexity, Williamson adds petite sirah, syrah and grenache to the blend.Best known by some as "Vananimal," Williamson is a winemaker comfortable with ape metaphors because of his love of the wild.

Just how do the native yeasts tame the fruit?

Williamson explains this best in lingo that would appeal to the late anthropologist Margaret Mead: "Zinfandel tends to be a very fruit-forward variety, and California tends to make fruit-forward wines so that native yeasts help me tame the King Kong of fruit and have some chimps in my glass instead of one big ape."

To give the little "chimps" complexity, Williamson adds petite sirah, syrah and grenache to the blend.

Best known by some as "Vananimal," Williamson is a winemaker comfortable with ape metaphors because of his love of the wild.

"My &‘Vananimal' nickname came from my days working for Bo Barrett at Chateau Montelena," he said. ".

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. I remember one time telling them that I could tell the smell of a buck from a doe when I was hunting, which is more dog-like than human .

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." Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 521-5310 or peg.melnik@ pressdemocrat.com.

This hunter, fisherman and forager rarely buys food at the store and his sense of smell no doubt helps his winemaking prowess.

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 521-5310 or peg.melnik@ pressdemocrat.com.

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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