What We Say 2005 Tom Feeney Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel
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Mission Codename: Vini Feeney
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Locate another Operative favorite born in the vineyards of the Tom Feeny Ranch in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Starry Night Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Tom Feeney Ranch Zinfandel
Winemaker: Wayne Hansen
Zinfandel is often aptly named California’s grape. Its history and lore and the wines that result are often the makings of legend. In this case, Starry Night’s winemaker selected the best old-vine grapes from a number of the Russian River’s best vineyards to pay tribute to grape growing and cultivating legacy of Tom Feeney. Many of these vineyards have been planted for nearly 100 years.
The Russian River Valley is ideally suited for red grape varietals. Its early morning fog and coastal breezes result in a cooler climate than the neighboring wine growing regions.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Clear dark purple with garnet edges, concentrated color out to the edges with clusters of fat legs that move at a medium pace when swirled
Smell – Profound aromas of black cherry, dusty raspberry, wild fennel/anise, blueberry custard, mild spice, a hint of earthy bramble-brush/fall leaves, and a touch of vanilla/oak
Feel – Round and slippery with a tangy attack, at first warm and then smoothes out, full-bodied with sweet firm tannins, and good acidity make this wine food-friendly
Taste – Fruit forward, cherry, raspberry, plum with spicy white pepper, oak/vanilla and an earthy herbal component that is like sage or thyme (think the smell of hot fall wind in the country)
Finish – Long and balanced with ripe plummy fruit, spicy white pepper and oak.
Conclusion – An excellent Zinfandel with a cascade of great flavors. Plummy but not pruney, good earthy links to its Terroir. Long, dark and dusky with good acidity making it great food pairing wine.
Starry Night Winery, a relative newcomer, is definitely a winery to watch. Opening in 1999 with its first vintage in 2000, it could not have achieved such success in such a short time without true attention to detail and the best fruit. And that’s where today’s selection comes in…
Tom Feeney Ranch was made famous by the exceptional De Loach’s Old Vine Zinfandels from the Barbieri and Papera vineyards. These two vineyards are considered among the finest for Old Vine Zinfandel in all of California, and were originally planted in the 1930s. Tom purchased these Zinfandel vineyards from De Loach in the late 90’s, adding to his old vine estate which contain the Piner, River and Montavi vineyards. These grapes are among the most sought after, and once you’ve tasted wines from this magnificent vineyard you know why.
Characteristically and classically Zinfandel with exceptional balance between its dark cherry fruit, both black and white pepper spice, and its toasty, earthy and bramble-bush base.
This is truly how I love my Zinfandels!
To truly experience this wine and its exceptional fruit, you just have to taste it and experience it for yourself.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the approximate location of the vineyards for this wine can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Starry Night Winery
About This Wine:
This Old Vine Zinfandel comes from four vineyards on Tom Feeney Ranch. The Montafi Vineyard was planted in the early part of the last century, Piner Vineyard was planted in the mid -1940s, Barbieri Vineyard in 1928 and Papera Vineyard in 1934. These vines are dry farmed and produce a very limited crop. This results in deep and complex fruit and spice flavors including raspberry, cherry and cassis, with hints of anise and white pepper.
31% Piner Road Vineyard Zinfandel
17.2% Montafi Vineyard Zinfandel
13.8% Barbieri Vineyard Zinfandel
38% Papera Vineyard Zinfandel
About The Winery:
Starry Night Winery became a bonded winery in 1999 and our first commercially available wines were introduced in November of 2000. The story of how we came into existence though starts many years earlier when the four of us, Wayne Hansen, Bruce Walker, Mike Miller and Skip Granger started making wine at an amateur level. Our motivation for this came from a shared life long passion for wine and an increasing disdain for the over priced and often mass-produced wines found in the market.
In our first year we crushed several hundred pounds of grapes and produced about fifty cases of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in Wayne’s basement. This worked well since with his food processing background, Wayne was destined to become our winemaker. By combining the best of both new and traditional methods we found that we could make outstanding wine. We also spent time researching wine making methods, taking classes at UC Davis and received the advice of some very helpful commercial winemakers.
We are excited to announce that as of December, 2006, Nimrod Kovacs, a citizen of Hungary and the US, joined the management team of Starry Night Winery. Mr. Kovacs has a substantial background in both domestic and international marketing, communications, advertising and management. He has also been instrumental in the growth of cable and satellite media delivery in Eastern and Central Europe. Nimrod is the owner of Monarchia Winery of Eger, Hungary, the new sister winery of Starry Night Winery! You can learn more about Monarchia Winery in the Newsletter section or in the Links & Associations section of the website.
At Starry Night Winery, our goal is to produce the finest wines possible that accentuate the regions from where the grapes are best grown. We currently produce Chardonnay, Syrah and Zinfandels from the Russian River Valley, a Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Valley, Zinfandel from Amador and Lake Counties and Zinfandel and Rhone varietals from the Lodi appellation. In 2006 we also produced a Petite Sirah from the Lodi appellation and a Cabernet Franc from High Valley which will be released during 2007.
Many people ask us why we are in Novato and what kind of grapes do we grow there? Well; we don’t grow any grapes. What we do is find the best grapes and growers that allow us to produce the finest wines. We have now worked with one of our growers for nine harvests and two of our growers for six harvests. We have added seveal new growers in the last three years and we are very excited about sharing our new wines and new releases with you!
Our primary focus at Starry Night Winery is Zinfandel, which accounts for over 60% of our production. We think Zinfandel, which is uniquely American, is not only a great wine, but also offers a significant value when compared to many other grape varietals. In 2001 we became a member of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP), which promotes Zinfandel education worldwide. Bruce currently serves as Vice President of ZAP and is a member of ZAP’s Board of Directors.
We are also excited by Rhone varietals, which we believe are making significant gains in popularity. We make a Russian River Syrah, and in 2001 introduced our Adara, which is a blend of wines made from grapes found in the Rhone region of France. Because we love Chardonnay, we also produce a barrel fermented, 100% malolactic, and well balanced Chardonnay.
The vastness of Sonoma County with its diverse climate and topography allows growers to produce grapes for distinct wines from the same grape variety. Various areas are known by Appellations. Appellations reflect unique climate, soil and other conditions which tend to produce wines unique to those areas.
With the best combination of natural resources and climate, Starry Night Winery’s key viticulture philosophy is to maintain a small berry size to more concentrated fruit. Our grapes realize bud break often several weeks earlier than other Sonoma Country Wineries, promoting a longer growing season. The rocky soils, comprised of silt loam on top of broken shifts allow the vineyards to deplete water early in the season so there is greater concentration in the berry by the time of harvest.
Our viticulture practices also reflect our desire to put forth optimal flavor in all of our wines. These practices sophisticated trellising system, over cropping early in the season then thinning later in the season to contribute to pH and acid balance and promote higher skin surface to grape ratio.
Harvest Date: Montafi – 9/28/05, Piner – 9/28/05, Barbieri – 9/27/05, Papera – 10/6/05
*Sugar at Harvest: *Montafi – 27.3º brix, Piner – 28.2 º brix, Barbieri – 25.8˚ brix, Papera – 24.1 º brix
Copperage: Barrel Aged over 20 months – 45% new American oak barrels, 25% new French barrels 30% select one to three year old American and French oak barrels
Production: 1,200 cases