Turley ‘Juvenile’ Zinfandel 2014

Winery: Beginning with just one vineyard in St. Helena in 1993, Larry Turley established Turley Wine Cellars. Today Turley Wine Cellars consists of 38 different old vine vineyards throughout California. The majority of the vineyards are single varietal Zinfandel or Petite Sirah [some vines even date back to the 1800’s]. “Larry has never met an old vine vineyard he didn’t like”, and the winery excels at crafting wines from these single vineyards. Turley Zinfandels are noted for their “cult status”, their wine club has a waiting list that spans out over 2 years.

Philosophy: “We aim to be stewards of some of California’s most distinctive vineyards, 
producing authentic wines that reflect their heritage.”

Winemaking: All of Turley’s vineyards are either Certified Organic by California Certified Organic Farmers, or in the process of being certified. Unlike the majority of Turley wines that are sourced from single vineyards, Juvenile is a blend of multiple vineyards, and as the name suggests, it is composed of young vines. “The vines that make up Juvenile range in age from about 6-25 years, and we pull from 15 of our vineyards across California, including Hayne, Ueberroth, Pesenti, Salvador, and Vineyard 101.”

Tasting Notes: Inky red-violet in colour with aromas of black pepper and cocoa powder coated black cherry and raisin. Abounding with layers of blackberry, black cherry, blueberry, black pepper and vanilla, incorporating good acidity and silky tannins. Concentrated black cherry and traces of toasted oak make an appearance on the super spicy, lengthy finish. Great on its own or with all types of heat driven dishes. [It was fantastic with blue corn crusted seitan, roasted tomatillo salsa, yams, rice and beans.]

100% Zinfandel
California
Produced and Bottled by Turley
15.5% Alcohol
$35 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2020

Rated 92 points Wine Spectator
Rated 90 points Wine Advocate

Orin Swift ‘The Prisoner’ Napa Valley Red Blend 2005

The Prisoner is a scintillating American success story; launched in 2000 by famed winemaker Dave Phinney, the brand has been sold twice already. In 2010 Phinney sold it to Huneeus Vintners, they in turn sold it [along with its siblings Saldo, Cuttings, Blindfold and Thorn] to Constellation Brands in 2016. As the bottle I enjoyed pre-dates these sales, here is the original background on the brand:

Progressive winemaker David Swift Phinney was “introduced to wine, how it was made, and got hooked” during time spent in Italy in 1995. Upon his return to the States he took a job as a harvest worker at Robert Mondavi. It was there that he decided, “that if he was going to work this hard, it would eventually have to be for himself”, and in 1998 Orin Swift Cellars was founded [Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift is his mother’s maiden name]. . He is renowned for wines that “are unapologetically full-flavored and intense, yet with a backbone of structure that holds it all in place”.

[Orin Swift developed into an international brand including 300 acres in southwest France along with projects in Spain, Italy, Corsica, Argentina and other locations. In 2016 Orin Swift (the brand, remaining inventory and the tasting room in St. Helena) was purchased by E. & J. Gallo Winery. Dave Phinney “will remain involved”.]

Winemaking: The Prisoner was an immediate success, and has been hailed as a “contemporary California field blend” [comprised of varying percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Charbono]. The Prisoner consistently is awarded, and appears regularly on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour, highly aromatic with aromas of blackberry jam on toast, black pepper, vanilla and mocha traces. Silky layers of concentrated black current, black cherry, raspberry are dusted with crushed black peppercorn along with a hint of graham cracker. Velvety tannins accent burnt caramel, chocolate, black current, vanilla and buttery toast on the fantastically lengthy finish. Opulent and lush, nearly a meal on its own.

48% Zinfandel, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Syrah, 10% Petite Sirah and 2% Charbono
Napa Valley
California
Bottled by Orin Swift Cellars
15.2% Alcohol
$125 [1.5 L]
Enjoy now thru 2020

Rated 93 points by Wine Spectator

Orin Swift ‘Abstract’ Red Blend 2015

abstract15

Winery: Progressive winemaker David Swift Phinney was “introduced to wine, how it was made, and got hooked” during time spent in Italy in 1995. Upon his return to the States he took a job as a harvest worker at Robert Mondavi. It was there that he decided “that if he was going to work this hard, it would eventually have to be for himself”, and in 1998 Orin Swift Cellars was founded [Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift is his mother’s maiden name].

Today the company has grown into an international brand that includes 300 acres in southwest France along with projects in Spain, Italy, Corsica, Argentina and other locations. However, his mission still remains a small, “passionate team of friends and family dedicated to making great wine”. He is renowned for wines that “are unapologetically full-flavored and intense, yet with a backbone of structure that holds it all in place”.
*[Note: Orin Swift (the brand, remaining inventory and the tasting room in St. Helena) was purchased by E. & J. Gallo Winery in 2016. Dave Phinney “will remain involved”.]

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from vineyards located throughout Northern California, including Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino. “Drawing from five esteemed regions throughout Northern California, an alluring matrix of flavors and textures was achieved. Each vineyard block was precisely chosen to fulfill a vision and blending component need.” Aged for 10 months in a combination of new and seasoned French Oak, with 35% new oak.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of wild berries, baking spices and traces of caramel. Tasting quite similar to the inviting aromas, with wild berry jam, a hint of vanilla and a pop of fresh jalapeno. Silky tannins compliment good acidity; rich chocolate, a hint of black cherry, and sweet caramel linger on the velvety finish. A decadent, silky fusion of berries and chocolate, your glass will empty much faster then you thought possible. [Especially with that 15.1% Alcohol.]

Blend of Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Syrah
California
Bottled by Orin Swift Cellars
15.1% Alcohol
$29
Enjoy now thru 2022

Atticus John Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007

atticusj07

Brand: Atticus John is only made during the best harvests in Napa Valley. Although the actual vineyards [near St. Helena] and winemaker have managed to stay anonymous, there are only so many options, so it’s possible to theorize quite accurately. ☺

The accepted account behind the brand is that when this rather famous winemaker has a fantastic harvest, rather then bottle too many of his high priced wines [making them less rare and less in cost] he bottles the extra wine under a different label and price point. Essentially a $25 bottle that really is a $75 bottle. I consider this a win.

The name Atticus John is in honor to a local Napa Valley legend, Atticus John. According to the legend told by many Napa farmers, “he was a recluse who lived in the valley around the turn of the 20th century. He had several dozen large dogs and lived his whole life off of what the bountiful Napa soil had to offer.”

Winemaking: “Almost 32 barrels were blended with no fining, no filtration and one final racking to bottle.” From the front label: “Old vines and minimal wood secure the generous spirit of Atticus John Cabernet”.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with cozy aromas of dark berries and autumn woods. An herbaceous streak runs thru blackberry, tobacco and vanilla notes, evolving into spiced oak and berry fruit on the plush finish. Well balanced, with complimentary velvety tannins and good acidity. Versatile and easy drinking, great on its own or with a wide array of dishes.

Cabernet Sauvignon [I could not verify varietal percentage.]
Napa Valley
California
Vinted and Bottled by Brandon Cellars, Suisun City
14.3% Alcohol
$25
Enjoy now

Turley ‘Old Vines’ Zinfandel 2013

turleyoldvines

A classic, bold Cali Zin loaded with spice, jammy fruit and sweet, woodsy oak.

Winery: Beginning with just one vineyard in St. Helena in 1993, Larry Turley established Turley Wine Cellars. Today Turley Wine Cellars consists of 38 different old vine vineyards throughout California. The majority of the vineyards are single varietal Zinfandel or Petite Sirah [some vines even date back to the 1800’s]. “Larry has never met an old vine vineyard he didn’t like”, and the winery excels at crafting wines from these single vineyards. Turley Zinfandels are noted for their “cult status”, their wine club has a waiting list that spans out over 2 years.

Philosophy: “We aim to be stewards of some of California’s most distinctive vineyards, 
producing authentic wines that reflect their heritage.”

Winemaking: All of Turley’s vineyards are either Certified Organic by California Certified Organic Farmers, or in the process of being certified. Grapes for ‘Old Vines’ are sourced from vineyards that are too small to be bottled on their own along with “newer sites for the Turley family (and way of farming)” that need more time before they will be given separate vineyard designations. Vines range in age from 18 to 80 years and are spread over Central and North Coast California. 20-35% new French oak is used in aging.

Tasting notes: Red-violet in colour with compelling aromas of cherry, raspberry, chocolate, black pepper and sweet oak. Well-crafted with succulent cherry, blackberry, crushed black peppercorn and oak flavours glossed by silky tannins and good acidity. Espresso, chocolate, vanilla and more black pepper comprise the lengthy, plush finish. A classic, bold Cali Zin loaded with spice, jammy fruit and sweet, woodsy oak.

100% Zinfandel
California
Produced and Bottled by Turley
15.5% Alcohol
$38 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2018

Rated 90 points by Wine Spectator