What We Say 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel
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Today’s Old Vine Zinfandel is extraordinary, dear Operative. If you love fantastic Zinfandel, please read our review for our full impressions. Then, grab some up. This is the only time that this wine will be available at this price
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Mission Codename: Old Vine Greatness
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Respond to Operative demands for a stellar Old Vine Zinfandel. Locate the best one, from any region, secure an ample cache
Mission Status: Success!
Current Winery: Fanucchi Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel
Winemaker: Peter Fannuchi
Today’s wine comes to us from the Russian River Valley vineyards of Peter Fanucchi. Located in Sonoma County, these vineyards were planted in 1906 – possibly earlier. With its generally cooler climate and sandy loam soil, the area is most notably known for its Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as some exceptional sparkling wines, however, the unique climate is also very well suited to Syrah and Zinfandel. The region is peppered with old-vine vineyards that were originally planted by Italian immigrants in the early 1900s.
Zinfandel is related to the Italian Primitivo grape, tracing its origin to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski. Zinfandel is one of the most versatile varietals with the ability to make wines, both rich to fruity, dark to light, and dry to sweet. The Russian River Valley, where this Zinfandel’s grapes are are grown are characterized by their balanced flavors, are gaining in popularity with our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Medium dark purple in color with garnet to lilac edges. Widely spaced skinny legs cling to the side of the glass when swirled
Smell – Bold and aromatic with layers of ripe raspberries, blackberries and soft plums. these are accompanied by with a lofty bramble and floral component that is backed by aromas of candied fruit, a touch of earth and softly toasty vanilla
Feel – Soft and voluptuous, with an elegant attack that eases into a soft minerality on the mid-palate. A touch of spice on the back of the tongue, leads to fine tannins and a medium bright acidity that makes this wine exceptionally food-friendly
Taste – Round and full with luscious flavors of ripe blackberry, raspberry and cherry with a subtle blend of complex spices including black pepper, subtle nutmeg and a hint of cinnamon. Soft toasted oak with a touch of mocha round out this tasty wine
Finish – This wine finishes smooth with balanced flavors of its fruit, spice and a touch of old-vine earthy notes
Conclusion – This old-vine Zinfandel clearly showcases the unique fruit of the Peter Fanucchi’s Vineyard. This is a fruit-driven wine, but it is no fruit bomb. Rather, this wine is gentle and elegant in its flavors and aromas. This wine is delicious, tender and very easy to drink. Pair with nearly anything! I enjoyed a bottle with a delicious homemade veggie lasagna and grilled asparagus. What a treat!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Peter Fanucchi
DATE OF BIRTH: October 17, 1962
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco
WINE EDUCATION: Still Learning! I am always absorbing new ideas and integrating different practices with what I think may work in my situation – First over the years through working with a great many wineries, winemakers, and growers, as a grower, home winemaker, Reading, watching, listening, continuing education seminars and groups etc… oh and I did get a degree and certificate in Viticulture at the Santa Rosa Junior College here in the Heart of Wine Country!
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: I was interested, and starting learning “on the job” with my parents when I was 9 years old and they purchased the Old Zinfandel Vineyard in 1972. By 1984 we had purchased the neighboring parcel and planted the Trousseau Gris, which was just barely old enough to start producing and Dads’ plans were to tear out the obsolete century old Zin block after the ’84 harvest but He suddenly passed away so I started running and working the vineyard for my Mom and instead of tearing out the old vineyard I rejuvenated it over the past 1/4 century with my personal touch on each vine every year since.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Preserve the Fruit that I’ve spent my life growing in a balanced wine.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: While I only make the two, I can’t tell you how many giant tastings I’ve poured at where folks came back to tell me that I have the best wine in the show. To some that is the Old Vine Zinfandel sometimes with hundreds of excellent examples to compare to, but to others including folks who tell me they normally don’t even like white wine the Fanucchi Vineyards Trousseau Gris is their hands down favorite and many of those formerly “red wine only” drinkers now order two or three cases of Trousseau Gris a year and I am the only one growing a block of it in California!
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: I have many boxes of the top most sought after wine awards from competitions and critics far and wide but here in my back yard, the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, which is probably the most competitive; especially for the Zinfandel since most of the very best grows here; this week when I received my 4th Grower Recognition Award for growing A Gold medal Zinfandel (Once for the Sweepstakes Red) since 2000 it occurred to me that this was my 4th such honor in 9 years and I wasn’t even entered for 5 of those years!
WINEMAKER QUOTE: The wine is made in the vineyard, my job is to coax the best possible fruit out of each vine by working with each one under the conditions nature dictates, once the fruit is cut from the vine the best possible flavors are captured in those berries and we showcase them in balanced wines crafted to evolve and endure for many years.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Peter. I am especially happy to be showing your exquisite 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel today. After spending the last hour with you in your vineyard, I feel – somehow – very connected to your wine. Thanks for the tour and for taking some more time to answer my questions today!
PETER FANUCCHI: My pleasure, Agent Red.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
PETER: I grew up with wine, it’s part of the Italian way of life that my father brought here from his roots in the Tuscan town of Lucca.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
PETER: Just doing it here in Sonoma County!
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
PETER: Preserve the Fruit that I’ve spent my life growing in a balanced wine. So many popular wines are extremely over done to the point you cannot tell the origins of the fruit, or even come close to telling what fruit it is – doing that makes it all pointless!
RED: How long have you been making wine?
PETER: I used to help my Dad when I was a boy – if that counts – 37 years
RED: Who do you make wine for?
PETER: I want to make something that I and the Consumers will enjoy often the reviewers are far behind what the consumers really want. This is why I stayed with Fruit balanced wine while so many went for the overripe +17% alcohol stuff.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Russian River Valley – and your Wood Road vineyard – so special?
PETER: Wood Road is very special place in the heart of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley:
- We can be on either side of the coastal summer fog intrusion. At the beginning of a heat wave we can get hot and be part of what the common media forecast calls the “inland temperature” but in an extended heat wave the fog can engulf us and our temps can then be like what common media forecast calls the cool “coastal temperature”. When the Fog enters northern Sonoma County, before (& if) it reaches Dry Creek or Alexander Valley it rolls over us first and when it rolls back to the coast it rolls out only after those more the northerly valleys and of course we normally cool of at night with temperature swings as much as 50 degrees.
- We on Wood Road are in a slight rise in the Santa Rosa Plane at 130 feet their are hundreds of acres of vineyards within a mile or so south, west, and north but they are about 40 feet lower.
- While the surrounding areas have deep vigorous clay, we have a shallow sandy loam that averages only 18 inches deep with some places only 6 inches. This makes for an extremely restricted root zone encouraging very concentrated fruit.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
PETER: Whatever you do, do something you like, and constantly strive to become better.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
PETER: Deciding whether or not to crush more of the excellent fruit we have this year.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
PETER: It’s is big and bold but balanced and well structured it’s great now but has the guts to age well for a few more years!
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
PETER: It is so versatile it really depends on what I feel like eating! Theirs is a fancy truly Italian Style Pizza restaurant nearby that uses only locally grown produce… I’m not much into steak but it certainly goes very well with it —maybe go for something different; how about a peppered and grilled wild caught pacific salmon!
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
PETER: I’ll have to think about this one!
RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
PETER: It depends which Fanucchi Vineyards wine is open!
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
PETER: Enthusiastically! They should be excited and enjoy savoring all the organoleptic nuances and not be intimidated by big words it’s fun for sipping and food pairing -have a glass or two with food and friends and just enjoy!
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
PETER: The Best wine from the ancient Roman Empire of 2000 years ago!
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
PETER: How much wine do you make and how big do you plan to get? Currently we only make about 350 cases of the Zinfandel and 550 cases of the Trousseau Gris. The rest of the family grapes got to other wineries often as also highly awarded vineyard designates or to improve other wineries blends. We could maybe do up to about 900 cases of the Zinfandel using all our one fruit, and I’d like to make all the Trousseau into out one wine and potentially making up to 3000 cases which seems like a lot to me but that is all that can be made in California since this all the that is grown state wide, and when you compare other verities grown in California ~6,000,000 cases of Pinot Gris (yes six MILLION!), ~7,000,000 cases of Sauvignon Blanc, and ~47,000,000 cases of Chardonnay, this is truly a drop-in-the-ocean rare wine!
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
PETER: Any time, Agent Red.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Fanucchi Zinfandel Vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
Platinum Medal – 2009 Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition
Gold Medal – 2009 Sonoma County Harvest Fair
Gold Medal – San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition 2009
90 Points / One Puff “Ripe, well-defined berries are juxtaposed in this wine’s ample aromas by a good dose of rich oak and the inviting scents of freshly baked brownies, and, while it is very big-bodied with flavors that drift very much into the ripe side, the wine achieves real success in the style by dint of its balance and deep fruit. Its tough finishing tannins signal the need for a few years of age, and it has the right pieces in place to make the wait one without risk.-(The 2009 Zinfandel issue) Connoisseurs Guide To California Wine Volume33/Issue7 May 2009
Silver Medal – North Of The Gate Wine Competition 2009
About This Wine:
While it has plenty of Natural and soft oak Tannin and is Full bodied and ripe it shows the distinctive fresh Wood Road / Russian River Valley Fruit. While it is great upon opening a ½ bottle will be improve for days. It can be enjoyed now or cellared for years! Pepper, ripe black berry, Bing Cherry.
About The Vineyard:
The 100+ year old Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard is located on about 20 acres along a slight rise bisected by Wood Road in the Russian River Valley appellation of Sonoma County. It has been hand-tended by Peter Fanucchi for going on 38 vintage seasons. The Old Vine Zinfandel vineyard was planted over 100 years ago (long believed 1906 but recent discovery indicates it could easily have been 15 years old by 1906!) and the vines are head trained but Peter has raised the gnarled vines from just above ground level to shoulder height. This modification provides greater sun exposure and air circulation and has reinvigorated the old vines, enhancing the production of incredibly high-quality, truly, old-vine fruit. Because of many factors, such as their age & size variation, Peter personally prunes & retrains each of the nearly 5000 vines each winter to maintain their optimal balance. The Old Vine Zinfnadel block also contains about 4% Petite Sirah, 4% Alicante Bouchet & other grape varietals, varying from 1 to 25 vines, like Trousseau Gris.
The soil, Huichica-sandy-loam, on Wood Road is very shallow (averaging about 18” deep!), slightly heavier than the Gold Ridge and is highly restrictive. Old vines on these soils produce small Zinfandel berries with bright, concentrated cherry, raspberry to blackberry fruit flavors. At optimum ripeness, the fruit makes a big, intense, long-lived Zinfandel of unique personality. Bright, high-tone cherry, spice and floral nose and flavors are typical indicators of Fanucchi-Wood Road terroir.
About The Winery:
For Peter Fanucchi it all began in 1972 at the ripe old age of 9 years working beside his father Arcangelo, a new vineyard owner at the time, who purchased a very old vineyard property in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley on Wood Road in Fulton, California. Peter and his father quickly became friends with their veteran wine grape growing neighbors who very graciously taught them traditional viticulture methods which they rigorously employed on the circa 1906 Zinfandel vineyard. They took their lessons very seriously and they studied the art of wine grape growing intensely. As a result of their studies, they began integrating modern viticultural methodologies gathered from a wide array of periodicals to experts into the vineyard along with the astute lessons learned from their legendary neighbors and most importantly observing how it the cultural practices effected the vines in their specific environment on Wood Road.
Vineyard: Planted between 1886 and 1906
Harvest date: 10-18-2005
Production: 325 Cases
Varietals: Field Blend has about ~4% Petite Sirah and ~4% Alicante Bouschet ~2% other and about 90% Zinfandel