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2012-05-01

INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR MAY 2012

International Wine Cellar May 2012 - Turley Wine Cellars
Larry Turley, who has never met an oldvines zinfandel vineyard he didn't like, is now farming 250 acres, of which he owns 153. His zinfandel vineyards in particular run a full gamut of soil types, geography, altitude, exposure and microclimate. Turley's normal pattern is to use new vineyard sources for his Old Vines zinfandel until he brings the viticulture up to his standards, at which point he introduces a new vineyard designated
wine. Director of winemaking Ehren Jordan assured me that all of the 2010s here are bonedry, even the wines that approach 16% alcohol. Two thousand ten was a cool year that required significant cropthinning to ripen the rest. A few vineyards were hurt by the extreme heat spike in late August, Jordan reported: for example, there's no Vineyard 101 bottling from this vintage.
2010 The White Coat White Wine San Luis Obispo County ($35) (beginning with the 2009 vintage, this wine is all from estate fruit; a 55/45 blend of Howell Mountain roussanne and Paso Robles grenache blanc): Good bright yellow. Aromas of honeysuckle, wild herbs and pepper. Fat, sweet and intensely spicy; a distinctly plump style but given grip by its strong spice and pepper elements. Much more wild grenache blanc character than roussanne beeswax here. Very interesting wine. Winemaker Ehren Jordan blocked the malolactic fermentation of the roussanne. 91
2010 Cinsault El Porron Lodi ($17) (13.5% alcohol; 100% whole clusters; from organically farmed vines dating back to 1886; no new oak): Good dark red. Pungent aromas of blueberry, pepper and spices reminded me of Beaujolais. Juicy, intensely fruit and downright gulpable, with an intriguing musky quality. Finishes with rather soft tannins and nice length. This wine is sold almost entirely to restaurants. 89
2010 Charbono Tofanelli Vineyard Napa Valley ($28) (13.7% alcohol): Saturated ruby. Hightoned aromas of kirsch, ink and bitter chocolate. Bright and tight, with excellent cut to its black fruit flavors. Strong acidity and substantial dusty tannins call for some patience. Two thousand ten was a good vintage for charbono, noted winemaker Jordan. 90
2010 Zinfandel Juvenile California ($20) (15.5%; a blend made of youngvines juice from seven different counties): Good medium ruby. Exotic aromas of blackberry syrup and licorice. Sweet, spicy and creamy, kept fresh by brisk, ripe acidity. Finishes with supple tannins and nice length. A very harmonious blend and an excellent value in zinfandel. 89
2010 Zinfandel Old Vines California ($25) (15.5% alcohol; includes a good bit of fruit from singlevineyard sites that are not yet used to make named wines): Bright, deep ruby. Classic zin aromas of blackberry, crushed black pepper and licorice. Creamy sweet and fat, but with a sweettart character contributing to the wine's superb cut and purity of fruit. Complicated by an element of wild herbs. Finishes with suave tannins, solid structure and excellent length. A very successful fusion of zinfandel's many aspects, and a terrific value. 91
2010 Zinfandel Salvador Vineyard Contra Costa County ($38) (15.9% alcohol; this juice previously
went into the Old Vines bottling): Good full medium ruby. Slightly porty aromas of dark berries and dark chocolate, plus a hint of dried fruits. Fat, sweet and hightoned; superconcentrated and superripe but not particularly complex. Finishes with building tannins and a slightly nutty quality. 90
2010 Zinfandel Duarte Contra Costa County ($32) (15.7% alcohol): Good deep ruby. Musky black
cherry, bitter chocolate and licorice on the nose, along with a tarry nuance. Fat, broad and sweet, with pliant, creamy black cherry and dark chocolate flavors complicated by a whiff of stone fruits. A bit less explosive today than the highertoned Salvador, and just a tad roasted on the back end. 90
2010 Zinfandel Grist Vineyard Dry Creek Valley ($40) (15.8% alcohol; from a westfacing
slope at 900 feet): Bright medium ruby. Enticing aromas of blackberry, pepper and spices; much less evidence here of the heat spikes of late August and early September owing to the elevation of the vineyard. Smooth, sexy and sweet, with lovely energy and peppery acidity framing the intense flavors of crushed dark berries and dark chocolate. At once expansive and aciddriven,
finishing with substantial chewy, ripe tannins that are not at all tough. Very highpitched
zinfandel, and rather atypical for Dry Creek Valley. Winemaker Ehren Jordan describes this site as the Hudson Vineyard of the Dry Creek Valley. 90
2010 Zinfandel Pesenti Vineyard Paso Robles ($35) (16.1% alcohol; from a crop level around 1.5 tons per acre, according to Jordan): Medium ruby. Aromas of kirsch, blackberry and gunflint. A juicy, extremely primary infant, with urgent, very intense crushed berry flavors dominating. Offers compelling fruit sweetness, and the superb whiplash of a finish, featuring serious but fully ripe tannins, suggests that this will reward cellaring. 93
2010 Zinfandel Dogtown Vineyard Lodi ($38) (16.2% alcohol; the tiny clusters yielded just a half ton of fruit per acre, according to winemaker Jordan): Bright deep ruby. Highpitched
aromas of blackberry, licorice pastille, mint, wild herbs and black tea. Thick, powerful and creamy, with a very strong spice character to the black fruit and licorice flavors. Rather musclebound and extremely backward todayeven a bit unrefined finishing with a serious spine of tannins. Very impressive but not yet ready for prime time. Jordan noted that
Lodi was much less affected by heat spikes in 2010 than was the North Coast. 92+
2010 Zinfandel Tofanelli Vineyard Napa Valley ($34) (15.8% alcohol): Medium ruby. Reticent but
slightly exotic aromas of blackberry, black cherry and tar. Creamy in the middle palate but not yet showing much innermouth definition or complexity. Largescaled, almost gritty tannins give the finish a youthful dry edge and reminded me of cabernet. 90?
2010 Zinfandel Turley Estate Napa Valley ($38) (15.3% alcohol; from vines planted in 1997): Saturated ruby. Complex, musky aromas of spicecake, pepper and violet, with hints of crushed rock, garrigue and leather. Creamysweet and largescaled, with round flavors of dark cherry and chocolate complicated by a whiff of game. Conveys a bit of roasted heft without coming off as ponderous. Finishes with very soft, almost grenachelike tannins that really saturate the palate. Very sexy zinfandel. 92
2010 Zinfandel Dusi Vineyard Paso Robles ($32) (16% alcohol; from a fertile site with lowpH
soil for Paso Robles): Medium ruby. Hightoned aromas of blueberry, blackberry and crushed pepper. Juicy and concentrated, with a distinctly savory character to the chewy black fruit and spice flavors. Conveys a strong impression of tiny berries. A real crushed blackberry fruit bomb, finishing with suave tannins and terrific length. The pH here is 3.45. 93
2010 Zinfandel Heminway Vineyard Napa ($30) (15.6% alcohol; from a vineyard planted at 1,500 feet): Good bright, saturated ruby. Expressive aromas of crushed blackberry, blueberry, licorice, pepper and wild herbs; real mountain zin! Dense, finegrained and fresh, with lovely blueberry fruit displaying plenty of early sex appeal. Best today on the very broad, long finish, which shows a surprisingly light touch. 93
2010 Zinfandel Cedarman Howell Mountain ($29) (15.6% alcohol): Medium ruby. Dark berries, orange peel and earth on the nose. Dense and sappy but quite tightly wound, with black fruit and licorice flavors dominating. Doesn't have quite enough midpalate pliancy and flesh to support its serious tannins, and thus a tad dry on the back today. Will this come into better balance with aging? 89(+?)
2010 Zinfandel Mead Ranch Atlas Peak ($35) (15.5% alcohol): Good medium ruby. Pungent, steely
aromas and flavors of blackberry, spicecake, chocolate, orange peel and white pepper; almost syrahlike. Dense and sweet in the mouth but with terrific aromatic lift thanks to firm acidity and a strong white pepper quality. Really lovely definition and perfume here. Exhilaratingly long, palatecleansing finish. I never would have guessed this wine had a pH of 3.9. Superb zinfandel. 94
2010 Zinfandel Rattlesnake Ridge Howell Mountain ($40) (16.1% alcohol): Good bright ruby. Precise, vibrant aromas and flavors of blackberry, bitter chocolate and spicecake. Dense, sweet and firm, with terrific fruit intensity. Very strong material here but the finish is a bit blocked today by pronounced dusty tannins. Lay this one down. (Unfortunately, my first bottle of the Dragon Zinfandel Howell Mountain was corked. A later sample was also a bit musty, and showed little zinfandel fruit sweetness I assume due to a cork problem as well.) 92(+?)
2010 Zinfandel Ueberroth Vineyard Paso Robles ($48) (15.8% alcohol): Dark red. Knockout aromas of dark fruit cocktail, crushed rock and licorice, along with a whiff of exotic fruits. Dense and saline on entry, then chewy and deep in the middle, with pungent minerality giving punch to the smooth blackberry flavor. Wonderfully expansive yet focused zinfandel, conveying a powerful impression of rocky minerality. The impressively long, palatestaining finish features great penetration and ripe, finegrained tannins. Disturbingly good zinfandel 94
2010 Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard Napa Valley (15.8% alcohol; tasted from tank): Good full ruby.
Blackberry and crushed pepper aromas are lifted by an exotic nuance. Creamy and lush but with excellent verve, already conveying a strong impression of personality. The intense blackberry, black cherry and licorice flavors are lifted by lovely violet perfume. Wonderfully floral, elegant zinfandel with superb sappy thrust. Stains the palate on the finish, offering suave tannins, a magically light touch and penetrating black cherry and floral flavors. 93-96
2010 Zinfandel Fredericks Vineyard Sonoma Valley ($42) (15.3% alcohol; from a 1937 planting at
1,200 feet): Good saturated ruby. Lively aromas of blackberry, minerals and licorice lifted by a floral nuance. Tactile, uncompromisingly dry and penetrating, conveying a strong impression of dry extract. The intense black fruit and pepper flavors outlast the wine's firm tannins. Extremely young, intriguing zinfandel in need of bottle aging. 92+
2010 Petite Sirah Turley Estate Vineyard Napa Valley ($38) (14.7% alcohol; includes 1% viognier):
Saturated ruby. Ethereal aromas and flavors of stone fruits, orange zest and flowers; this would be interesting to serve in a black glass. Smooth and lush in the mouth, but with serious acidity giving lift to the middle palate. Wonderfully aromatic if rather idiosyncratic petite sirah with distinctly elegant tannins for the variety. Not the last word in density but very long on the aftertaste. 92
2010 Petite Sirah Pesenti Vineyard Paso Robles ($35) (yes, that's how Turley spells the variety):
Saturated ruby. Hightoned, slightly porty aromas of blackberry liqueur, black olive and nutty oak. Round, ripe and rich in the mouth, with a tactile quality to the flavors of dark berries, black olive, licorice and resin. A saline element contributes nuance to this concentrated, intriguing petite sirah. Finishes with ripe, broad tannins and excellent length. 92
2010 Petite Sirah Library Vineyard Napa Valley ($38) (14.9% alcohol): Saturated ruby. Superripe,
porty aromas of dark berries, chocolate, flint and leather. Broad and chocolatey on the palate, even a bit chunky, but with good acidity and a hint of orange rind perking up the blackberry fruit. Conveys a suggestion of muscat grapes. Finishes hugely tannic and a bit dry. 90
2010 Petite Sirah Hayne Vineyard Napa Valley (14.4% alcohol, 3.46 pH): Saturated ruby to the rim.
Extremely primary, slightly porty blackberry aroma. Creamysweet in the mouth, with harmonious acidity giving a light touch to the blueberry and pepper flavors. Most impressive today on the extremely long, juicy finish, which features a strong peppery quality along with a suggestion of exotic fruits. This should evolve slowly and well in the bottle. 93-95
2010 Petite Sirah Rattlesnake Ridge Howell Mountain ($44) (14.8% alcohol): Saturated ruby. Musky
aromas of dark berries and meat. Fat, broad and sweet, with dark berry, black cherry and bitter chocolate flavors accented by pepper and herbs. Finishes very long but the huge, slightly drying tannins will require some patience. I much prefer the style of the Hayne petite sirah. 91
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon The Label Napa Valley (14.2% alcohol; from 22yearold
organically farmed vines planted next to the Turley property on Highway 29, north of St. Helena): Cassis, black cherry and violet on the nose. Supple, creamy and sweet, with good innermouth aromatic quality to the flavors of blackberry, blueberry, licorice pastille and violet. Really berrydriven cabernet but not especially complex. Finishes with edgy, slightly drying tannins and a hint of dark chocolate. 89-91

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