||And the usual oeno-babble from the bloody pulpit:
I've pretty much followed all the Turley Zins/reds from the very start.
They have had a distinct style that I (though many others don't) happen
to appreciate and like. This set of Zins seemed to represent a bit of a
departure from the style of the previous ones. Many of the '97 Zins we've
been tasting, I've sensed a sort of diluteness and lack of intensity &
focus that I've attributed to the high production levels of many vnyds
in the '97 vintage. Although these '97 Turleys were not as big & extracted
& tannic of many of the earlier ones, I did NOT have that same sense
of overproduction in them. They DID seem more restrained, more balanced,
more elegant, more finesse, and not so oaked as in previous yrs. When you
start to get Zins in the 15%-16%+ range, you often start to get a taste
& smell of overripeness and even raisened character. That was not in
these wines that I could tell. I thought they all carried their high alcohol
levels very well and I got no sense of alcoholic hotness or fumey character
in any of them. The next day, at warm room temperature, they were indeed
rather fumey; so it seems that these Zins should be carefully served at
the usual cool room temperatures (low 60's). Another characteristic I found
in these '97 Zins was the well-integrated character of the oak. In previous
vintages, the Fr.oak seemed a bit more obvious and blatant. In these '97's,
the pencilly, sometimes menthol, oak was there in all of them, but not
at all overdone. And all these '97's seemed to show a bit of a meaty/gamey
character that I often get in Calif Syrah. Yet another characteristic I
found in these '97 Turleys is that they seemed much more expressive of
their vnyd origins, their terrior. In the past, the Turley winemaking style
seemed to dominate the wines. The wines seemed less forced into Turley
style. I've heard some comments on the '97 Turleys that they are not as
big & over-the-top as previous vintages have been. Perhaps that's true.
But I REALLY liked these wines. They were much like the best Ridges (maybe
the ultimate accolade for ANY Zinfandel) in their complexity. I'd keep
going back to them and finding different things in them each time.
In keeping with Turley corporate policy of overtaking the Trincheros by
Year 2021, Larry Turley and Ehren Jordan boosted production of their famed
Hoot-Smalley White Zinfandel by a whopping 43%; this year up from 3 btls
to 4 (one for Larry Turley, one for Ehren Jordan, one for the Los Alamos
contingent...as in last year). Once again, Helen Turley was NOT placed
on the mailing list for this legendary WhiteZin. Instead, it was auctioned
off at an eBay auction and went for a substantial $26,271.29; a new record
for WhiteZin on eBay. The bidding was very spirited between Bruce El.,
a slightly disreputable LA attourney and Berry Larva-Vermin, of the richly-endowed
LasVegas Ree-Oh Casin-O, until Mr. El dropped out at the $26,270 mark.
Mr. Larva-Vermin's intent was to destroy the wine, untasted, so the
world will never find out just how good WhiteZin can be; thereby protecting
his considerable personal investment in SutterHut Wnry. Mr. Larva- Vermin
(Monsieur Lar-vin as he's affectionately called by close intimates) reportedly
smashed the bottle to smithereens with a hatchet borrowed from the Carrie
Nation Museum in Colgan, Kansas; the first time this fearsome device had
been used outside Kansas in the last 80 yrs. The event was a sad day for
the wine world as the last drops of this precious beverage dribbled into
the drain whilst broad-winged black vultures and Screaming Eagles slowly
circled overhead. This highly-sought-after WhiteZin comes from the fabled
Hoot-Smalley Vnyd, out back of the rather ramshackle wood-sided SutterHut
Wnry located on the St.Helena Hwy, across from the Looee Martinee winery.
In order to capture the essence of the Hoot-Smalley fruit from this single-vine
vnyd; Mr. Jordan requestioned the huge SutterHut mechanical harvester from
the adjacent SutterHut equiptment shed. With a capacity of 800 tons/hr;
this behemoth machine made short work of the single vine in Hoot-Smalley,
harvesting all 7 bunches in 5.3 msec, with a record amount of MOG. Mr.
Trinchero, Grand Poobah of Sutter Hut, was reportedly very upset with grapes
actually being harvested so near to his "winery" that he departed from
a ceremony honoring the 20-million'th visitor to the SutterHut tasting
room and confronted the Turley crew. In this face-off, the smart money
was clearly on the towering, bewhiskered figure of Larry Turley and Mr.
Trinchero meekly returned to the ceremony, now honoring the 21'st million
visitor to their tasting room.
The Charbono: This is sort of a mystery grape in Calif. It has been made
into some fairly interesting wines by Ch. Souverain and Inglenook. One
of the best I've had has come from Kent Rasmussen. It was reportedly the
backbone of many of the old Beaulieu Vnyd Burgundys made by Andre Teletschef.
It has been labeled as the same variety as the Charbonneau/Douce Noir of
the Savoie region in France. It has also been called the same as Dolcetto
Nero of Italy. And also linked to the Mondeuse variety of the Jura in France.
The versions from Calif have all been similar to those varietal counterparts
above from Europe; not a lot of fruit or fragrance, rather earthy/dusty
bit clunky in character w/ fairly high acids and rough tannins. It seems
to be a variety, much like Petite Sirah, that can best be used in small
amounts as a blending grape to give substance & structure to other
varietal wines. This Turley version, their first to my knowledge, was by
far the best Charbono I've ever had. Still showing much of the earthy/dusty/hard
character of Charbono, this one was very well-made, very interesting, and
more approachable than any others I've had. Probably as long-lived as any
of the Turley PetiteSirahs would be my guess.
The PetiteSirahs: Quite a difference in character in these two PS's. The
Aida was much more typical of the Turley PS's, big huge & rough/tannic;
clearly one that needs some age. It reminded me some of a few of the Ridge
YorkCreeks/Devil'sHill Petites that actually matured into some pretty amazing
wines. The Rattlesnake PS is, to me, more characteristic of Calif PS, soft
& fat; but with more fruit & lushness than most of them tend to
have. Two very well-made PS's, and I'm not a big fan of Calif PS.
Some of the usual Turley culprits were not present. The Hayne Zinfandel
& PS and a DogTown Amador Zinfandel and (I presume) Black-Sears Zinfandel
are scheduled for a Fall release.
The two Carneros Creek wines were a sharing from John & Adele Hopkins.
The Cab was starting to get a bit over-mature, but still a very good example
of old Calif Cab. CarnerosCreekWnry has made some pretty good Cabs over
the yrs but nobody ever seems to notice. The EsolaLatePicked was the wine
that caused Frank Mahoney to swear off Zinfandel when the grapes came in
so overripe. Alas, for Frank made some of the best Amador Zins ever made,
starting back w/ the '74 vintage. He and Paul Draper easily made the best
Zins ever from Chet Eschen's Fiddletown vnyd. This Esola LatePicked seems
to be in sort of a state of suspended animation. It's not shown much development
or complexity since I had my last bottle some 10 yrs ago.
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