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Daily Glass: Oh, Turley

June 14, 2019 2 comments

I remember discovering Turley Zinfandel many years ago for the first time at the pre-theater dinner in New York with my friend Henry. I wouldn’t tell you now if I heard something about Turley before we picked the bottle of Turley the off the wine list, or if it was just a happy accident. I just remember our reaction of a pure “wow” at how beautiful the wine was. Ever since that discovery, Turley wine almost became our secret handshake – when I show up with a bottle of Turley at my friend’s house, I get an understanding smirk and a nod – “you did good, buddy”.

Once the Turley was discovered, the very next question was – how can I get it. This is where I learned about the concept of the wine mailing list, starting with the waitlist (I talked about all those terms before – if you need a refresher, the link is here). I believe Turley was one of the first if not the first of the wine lists I signed up for (meaning, got on the waiting list for the mailing list). Turley also happened to be the very first mailing lists I got accepted to – to my big surprise and delight, as the wait was not that long (a few years).

Turley Estate Zinfandel Napa Valley

In case you are not familiar with Turley and don’t readily share into the excitement of the subject, here is a brief introduction. Turley Wine Cellars is a winery in Napa Valley in California, which specializes in Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. The winery was started in 1993 by Larry Turley, who was actively working in the wine before and developed a serious passion for Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, especially for the old vine Zinfandel (some of Turley vineyards are continuously producing since the late 1800s). Today, Turley produces 47 different wines from 50 different vineyards throughout Napa Valley, Paso Robles, Lodi, Amador Couty and other regions in California. You can find Turley wines in the stores and the restaurants, but they are scarcely available, as while they are making 47 different wines, most of the wines are produced in the hundreds of cases only, so the best way to get Turley wines is by signing up for the mailing list. One more thing I want to mention, as it is important to me – even with all the [rightly deserved] fame (they are definitely one of the top 5, or maybe even top 3 Zinfandel producers in the USA), Turley wines are still affordable on the mailing list, with some of the wines still priced at $20, and with absolution majority of the wines costing under $50 (Hanes Vineyard Zinfandel is probably the only exception at $75).

Since I got on the mailing list, Turley wines became my favorite present for the wine-loving friends. Every time we meet, my friend Patrick gets a bottle of Turley to take home to Switzerland – it is an equal exchange though, as I always get a bottle of unique and interesting Swiss wine – not something you can casually find here in the US. I also love the reaction such a present causes when people look at the bottle. I brought Turley for my friend Oz when we met in Singapore, and I handed it to him when we were finishing dinner. I perfectly remember huge, ear to ear smile on his face when he saw the bottle, and his exact words sharing the excitement with his friends “look, he got me a Turley!”. Lots of fond memories associated with Turley, in a variety of ways.

What caused this outpour of Turley love? Opening of the bottle of 2014 Turley Estate Zinfandel Napa Valley. How can I describe it? To me, a well made Zinfandel should have a perfect core of raspberries and blackberries with the addition of spices – it should have restrained sweetness and not be jammy. If you drink Zinfandel often, you know that what I just described is difficult to find. This wine had exactly that. A perfect core of ripe, succulent raspberries and blackberries, covered in pepper, sage, sweet tobacco and eucalyptus. Perfectly dry, with a firm structure and layers and layers of flavor. This is the wine you say “ahh” after every sip, and you say “ohh” when the bottle gets empty. And to complete my description, note that 15.6% ABV was not noticeable at all. A perfect balance and pure pleasure is what makes this wine so special.

Here it is, my wine love story of the day. What’s yours? Cheers!

Month in Wines – November 2015

December 7, 2015 5 comments

November 2015 was an interesting month. On one side, I traveled intensely throughout the month, which definitely affected memorable wine encounters. At the same time, this month brought some very unique highlights, such as Chinese wine and a full range of Beaujolais Nouveau wines (never before I tasted 5 Beaujolais Nouveau in the row). And I can’t help myself – I really love the labels on some of the Beaujolais Nouveau wines – festive and uplifting:

Here is what was “wine-interesting” in November 2015:

1421 Gold Chardonnay Xinjiang China – sorry, no idea about ABV or a price – very nice and classic in its Chardonnay profile, good apple and lemon notes, well rounded. 8-

2010 Tolaini Al Passo Toscana IGT (13.5% ABV, $20? – don’t know Costco price, Merlot/Sangiovese blend) – nicely restrained, unmistakably Italian,  good taste profile, soft tannins, good acidity, good structure. 8-

2012 Penfolds Kalimna Shiraz Bin 28 South Australia (14.5% ABV, $28) – tar and tobacco on the nose, dark fruit, dark chocolate. Tobacco and pencil shavings on the palate, good fruit, good acidity, perfect balance. 8-

2011 Turley Estate Zinfandel Napa Valley (15.6% ABV, $38) – delicious nose of ripe raspberries with a touch of tobacco, a classic Zin. Soft and delicious on the palate, perfect balance, fresh fruit, dark chocolate, hint of smoke, perfect balance. An excellent wine. 8

Changyu Red Wine Blend Ningxia, China (ABV?, about $33 at a restaurant) – definitely a highlight – spot on Bordeaux taste profile, round and balanced. 8/8+

2005 Bernard Magrez Temperancia Toro, Spain (15% ABV, $11.99 WTSO price) – I got this wine earlier in the year from the Wine Til Sold Out (WTSO). It has a delicious dense core, with dark fruit and espresso. Full bodied and perfectly well integrated. 8-

2012 Casey Flat Ranch Open Range Proprietary Red, California (14.8% ABV, $9.99, Blend: 52% Syrah, 33% Petite Sirah, 8% Merlot, 5% Mourvedre, 2% Cabernet Franc) – concentrated dark fruit, plums, dark chocolate, touch of cinnamon and a touch of tar. Scrumptiously together. 8-

2006 Monasterio De Las Viñas Reserva Cariñena DO ($15?, Garnacha 70%, Tempranillo 20%, Cariñena 10%) – out of all places, had it at hotel in Korea, and it was outstanding – firm, well structured, medium to full bodied, lavender and plums on the palate, perfect balance. 8

Beaujolais Nouveau wines

2015 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $10.99) – exceeding expectations. A new height for Beaujolais Nouveau. 8-
2015 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $11.99)  – a solid effort. 7/7+
2015 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $13.99)  – rivaling Dubœuf with may be even slight edge up. Would never identify as Beaujolais Nouveau in a blind tasting. 8-/8
2015 Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau (11%–14% ABV, $10.99) – Classic Beaujolais Nouveau. Enough said. 7+
2015 Bouchard Beaujolais Nouveau (11%–14% ABV, $9.99) – see above. 7+

And we are done here. Did you have any of the wines I’m talking about here? What were your recent wine highlights? Cheers!

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