Category Archives: Zinfandel

Finding Fu Run

Finding Fu Run

Just as we exited the Main Street Flushing #7 train station, the skies opened up and the rain began to pour down.  Carrying two bottles of wine, two wine glasses, and our umbrellas, we threaded our way through the crowded streets to Fu Run, a restaurant we had never tried before, wondering all the while if it would be worth the trip.

 Normally, when Michele and I go for Chinese food we prefer to drink tea. But it is always interesting to go to a Chinese restaurant with friends, in this case members of The Wine Media Guild, to see what wines they will bring, and to eat, drink, talk  about the wine and the food.

 Fu Run features the the food of Northeast China.  Today it is called Donghei but it was once known as Manchuria. The food began to appear soon after we arrived. 

In all, there were 17 dishes and they came so fast and were eaten so quickly that I am not sure what they all were.

 Here are a few that I did remember:

 -Muslim lamb chops– lamb ribs marinated and braised with a crispy coating of cumin seeds and hot pepper.  The meat was so tender, it fell right off the bone.

Egg Pancake

-Three different types of pork dumplings, one with celery, another with leeks and the third with cabbage.  I couldn’t stop eating them. 

-Egg pancake with leeks and pickled vegetables which was the special of the day.

Jelly Fish Salad

-Jelly fish salad–a light soy and scallion dressing made it very refreshing.  A first for me, the jelly fish didn’t seem to have any flavor, just a crunchy texture.  

-Shredded pork with green peppers

-Tender little pork meatballs in a rich broth

-Noodles with mixed vegetables

     -Sauteed water spinach

Each of the 9 guests brought a bottle of wine.  The whites were:

  Schloss Gruner Veltliner 2009 Gobelsburg Steinsetz 100% Gruner Veltiner (Austria) The vineyards are located on an elevated plain. The soil is based upon alpine pebbles transported here by the Danube River and covered by black and loamy soil, loess and gravel. The average age of the vines is 25 years. The wine is racked no more than 3 times before it is bottled, unfined and unfiltered. Maturation takes place in Austrian oak casks of 25hl. No new oak is used. The wine is released 30 to 36 months after the harvest. This wine worked with most of the dishes because no new wood was used and it had a mineral character with hints of pepper and spice and good acidity.

Campo Martino Ruttaris IGT 2000(Friuli Venezia Giulia) Jermann The wine is mostly Tocai Friulano, with a small percentage of Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Istriana and Picolit. The wine is fermented and aged in 750 liter barrels of Slavonian oak for 12-16 months, and released two years after the harvest.  Capo Martino is the name of a hill in the heart of the Collio zone. The wine was very golden in color and looked like it might be to too old.

We had already dumped an over-the-hill Meursault and a Pouilly-Fuisse. The Capo Martino turned out to be just fine.  A complex wine with ripe fruit aromas, a hint of tropical fruits and a touch of almonds in the finish, this worked less well with the food than the first two whites. It was fuller and richer and seemed to have lost some of its acidity. I liked the wine but not that much with this type of food.

 Pinot Gris Personal Reserve 2001 100% Pinot Gris Trimbach (Alsace). Vineyards are Grand Cru Osterberg with a South/Southeast exposure. The average age of the vines is 25 years and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are handpicked when they are at their richest and pressed very gently in a pneumatic press. The juice runs into the cellar by gravity and clarifies naturally prior to fermentation. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel at controlled temperatures for 2 to 3 weeks. Fermentation stops naturally and there is a very small amount of residual sugar to go along with the ripe acidity. The wine is not oak aged. Bottling is early to preserve the freshness and bottled aged before leaving the winery. This was the wine of the evening; it has rich and fragrant with ripe fruit aromas of apricot, pear and mango and may be a touch of botrytis.  It is full bodied with a creamy texture and well balanced with a great finish and aftertaste. It went very well with all of the food, even the Muslim lamb chops.

Red Wines

 D’OH 2010 Piemonte Dolcetto DOC 100% Dolcetto Clavesana.   Fermentation and a short aging in stainless steel and it is a wine to be drunk young. The name Dolcetto means sweet little one but the wine is dry with a lot of fresh fruit flavors and aromas with a hint of cherry. It has a deep ruby red color. The wine worked with most of the dishes because it was light, fruity and lacking in tannin.

 Gigonodas 2005 Domaine du Gour de Chaule (Southern Rhone) The average age of the vines is 50 years. There is a 3 week cuvaison.  A small amount of pressed juice is added back to the cuvee. Malolatic fermentation takes place in cuve, and after the malolatic fermentation is completed the wine is racked into large oak foudres where it stays for 18 months. The wine is racked no more than three times before it is bottled unfined and unfiltered 30 to 36 months after the harvest. This was a big wine with full fruit flavors and hints of spice and pepper. It went very well with most of the food especially the Muslim lamb chops where it blended in with the flavors of the lamb.

 Montgarnatx DOC Priorat 2003 Francesc Bas (Spain) The wine is made from 75% Grenache and 25% Carignan.  Stony soil composed of slate and quartz.  They must have used too much new oak and overextracted the wine because all I could taste were jammy, oaky and vanilla flavors.  It did not go with any of the food.

 Zinfandel Old Hill Vineyard 2006 Ravenswood (Sonoma) 76% Zinfandel and 24% mixed blacks. This is the oldest vineyard of the Ravenswood vineyards and dates from around 1880. The soil is clay loam and the climate is what Joel Peterson of Ravenswood called “the banana belt of Sonoma Country”. The vineyard is at sea level with a slightly eastern exposure. They use native yeasts, open-top fermentation and punch down by hand. Skin contact is 10 to15 days, French oak aging for 20 months in new and one year old barrels. This is a big wine but seems to be more balanced than the 2007 I had over a year ago. There were flavors and aromas of blackberry, blueberry, coffee and a touch of smoke with a long finish and aftertaste. This is a big wine and I felt that it worked with some of the food but not the dumplings and the sea food dishes.

 Fu Run Restaurant is located at 40-09 Prince St Flushing, NY 11354.  The phone number is 718-32 -1363.  As they say in the reviews, “It’s worth the trip!”

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Filed under Dolcetto, French Wine, Italian Red Wine, Pinot Gris, Zinfandel

Speaking with Joel Peterson Founding Winemaker at Ravenswood about Zinfandel

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Recently, I was invited to meet Joel Peterson, founding winemaker of Ravenswood Winery in Sonoma. I knew Mr. Peterson by reputation and was looking forward to speaking with him and of course tasting his wines which are primarily zinfandels.  I had lost interest in Zinfandel over the past few years. I found them to be too high in alcohol with too much extraction and so concentrated that I could not drink them. Most of the top rated Zinfandels seemed over the top.

Joel Peterson and a Vine

Joel Peterson and a Vine

We spoke about a number of different topics including: Phylloxera- problems past and present, St. George rootstock, UC Davis, how zinfandel came to California, zinfandel’s relationship to primitivo, experimental primitive plantings in California today, and how his winery got its name.

I asked him what style of zinfandel he made. His reply was an interesting one. He said that he had a European sensibility when it came to making wine and he felt that his wine fell somewhere between Chianti and Barolo. He uses Old World winemaking techniques such as native yeasts, open-top fermenters, punching down by hand, and French oak aging. Mr. Peterson feels that each one of his vineyards is unique.  The elevation of the vineyards is anywhere from sea level to 700 feet.  The terroir varies so much that he trains the vines in different ways. For example, one vineyard might call for the Guyot, while another for Bush vines. Since most of his zinfandel vineyards are old they all have St. George root stock.  All this from a winemaker who has been making zinfandel at the same winery in California for over 30 years.

All the wines we tasted were labeled “Single Vineyard Designate” and I asked what made them special. He said that the vineyard must be in a precise location and ideally suited for the variety planted there. It must have its own flavor characteristics and profile and the vines must be old with very low yields. The vineyard must be farmed by meticulous and experienced growers.

All of his zinfandels spend 20 months in 100% French oak with a slight difference between new and one year old barrels. Mr Peterson did a very good job of integrating the wood with the wine. All of them were very well balanced and are very good food wines. His zinfandels were closer in style to European wines then to most California wines.

Ravenswood Zinfandel

Ravenswood Zinfandel

The first wine we tasted was the Dickerson, Zinfandel 2007.  The grapes come from vines grown in St Helena in the Napa Valley that date back to 1930.  Made from 100% zinfandel grapes grown at sea level.  ($35)

Big River Zinfandel 2007 -from the Alexander Valley from 100% zinfandel grown at 500 feet  ($35)

Belloni Zinfandel 2007 – Made from 78% zinfandel and 22% blend of carignane, alicante bouschet, and petite sirah.  Some of the vines are over 90 years old Russian River grapes grown at sea level. ($35)

Barricia Zinfandel 2007 -  The vineyard was first planted in 1892, Sonoma Valley. Made from 76% zinfandel and 24% petite sirah grown at sea level ($35) This was one of my favorites: very well balanced, with hints of blackberries and raspberries, this is a wine to be drunk with food.

Teldeschi  Zinfandel 2007 Zinfandel 2007. Old mixed vineyard.  The wine is made from 76% zinfandel, 22% petite sirah, and 2% carignane. Dry Creek. grown at sea level.

Vineyard dates from 1913-197 This was my other favorite:  It tasted like an Old World Wine with cherry aromas and flavors and undertones of black pepper, tar and smoke it is a great food wine ($35)

Old Hill Zinfandel 2007   Ravenswood (Sonoma) 76% Zinfandel and 24% mixed blacks. This is the oldest vineyard of the Ravenswood vineyards and dates from around 1880. The soil is clay loam and the climate is what Joel Peterson of Ravenswood called “the banana belt of Sonoma Country”. The vineyard is at sea level with a slightly eastern exposure. They use native yeasts, open-top fermentation and punch down by hand. Skin contact is 10 to15 days, French oak aging for 20 months in new and one year old barrels. There were flavors and aromas of blackberry, blueberry, coffee and a touch of smoke with a long finish and aftertaste.($60).

Peterson also makes the Icon Mixed Blacks 2007 36% carignane, 27% petite sirah, 25% zinfandel and 12% mixed blacks (some alicante bouschet) ( $75 )

And the Pickberry 2006. Made from 74% merlot and 26% cabernet sauvignon.grown at 700ft.  ($50)

If anyone could make me change my mind about zinfandel, it would be Joel Peterson of Ravenswood.

Michele and I will be teaching a class on Italian food and wine for the holiday season at De Gustibus at Macy’s on Thursday Dec 3 2009.Information & tickets 212-239-1652 or www.degustibus.com

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Filed under Joel Peterson, Ravenswood winery, Zinfandel