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Turley wines opinions?

I got on their mailing list (just for fun) and it took about 10 months before they actually offered to sell me any wines. So now I got this short list of wines, I can order no more than 6 bottles and some wines are still off limits to me since I am a novice member. I don't think I am going to buy any wines - they are pricy for my budget but I was wondering if there is anyone here with any experience of drinking Turley wines.

For those who never heard of them they are located in Templeton, Ca (Paso Robles area) and are quite famous for their Zins.

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  1. They are pricey, but are generally recognized as being among the best in California. I was given a bottle of their Estate Zin ('03, I think) and it was one of the best I've ever experienced. Deep fruit, well-balanced, smooth but long finish. Just what my palate likes.

    1. Turley's reds are massive, high alcohol, high extract wines. They appeal to many palates but just a many find them overblown and hot. If you like that style you will probably like them otherwise you may not.

      My favorite Turley is their White Coat, a Rhone style white. You were probably offered some of this.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jock


        I've seen the White Coat, but have yet to try it. Based on your rec. I'll pick up what I can.


      2. Yes, They are highly extracted, usually higher alcohol and very fruit-forward, to the point of "jammy," however, I love them, and purchase them, when available AND have several cases in my cellar. They are not for everyone, in either style, or price. I happen to love Zins, and a very, very broad spectrum of Zins. In very general terms, the Turley's and the Biale's are at the top of the giant fruit-bomb end, though the Biale's are a bit less expensive.

        Are they worth the $? To me, they are. To anyone else? Don't know, however I have never had a guest turn up their nose, and most did not know what was being poured, until they were well into the wine, so "snob-appeal," should not have come into play there.

        I'll be picking up my allocation from the recent offerings, along with Ridge, Biale, a ton of Amador and Santa Cruz Mtn. Zins. Some will be lighter and spicy, some will be the afore-mentioned fruit-bombs.


        1. IMHO, they represent all that is wrong with the California wine industry. I find the Turley reds to be vulgar, over-extracted, oaked to a fair-the-well, alcohol bombs. They are circus-freak caricatures of what great Zinfandel should be. I 've never had the white so I won't comment.

          17 Replies
          1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

            I would agree with the "vulgar" part in relation to the pricing.

              1. re: zin1953

                I guess I place more blame on the consumer than Turley. Some people have too much disposable income and not enough sense on how to spend it wisely. I'll take Seghesio at $17. It might not be perfect, but it leaves me with $83 change from a C-Note which is more than enough to buy a few juicy T-Bones !

                1. re: TonyO

                  There is a fine line between: 1) "Hey, if the consumer wants to spend THAT much for my wine, who am I to say 'no'?"; and 2) "Hey, if they want my wine, they'll pay . . . "

                  I know which side of the line some winery owners are on, but I'm not sure -- to be honest -- which side Larry is on.


                  1. re: zin1953

                    Along similar lines, I was part of a round-table discussion featuring three noted Napa producers. One maintained that prices were getting out of line (and this was before the Cal Cult phenom. of a decade ago), while another took the tack, "if there are people standing in line for my wine and buying all that I can produce, I'm not charging enough). I won't mention names, but Nancy Andres was the moderator and, as such, did not voice her opinion.

                    It's a business, after all. The market decides the price. The costs are fixed, or very nearly so. Now, if the populace wants the wine, whether fanned by the press, or by their palates, I do not begrudge the winemakers. If they produce a wine that the masses like and are willing to pay for, then they should be rewarded. If I cannot afford the wine, that is my problem. Maybe I spend too much on other things, or have not been earning at my potential. Now, I am not a fan of wines being scooped up by "investors," as winos should have some access. If we do not, that is our problem.

                    Now, I am one, who doesn't go looking for bargain wines. I also do not normally try to spend more, than I can afford, but it's all about the quality, as I access it, at the end of the night. Some friends decry that I spend more for my everyday wine, than is necessary. My reply is that it is for my (and my wife and guest's) pleasure, and I can afford it. Yes, I could purchase Yellowtail Chard, but choose white Burgs, instead. Have these been "created" by the wine press? Not in my case. When I discovered them, I had not read much of Parker, Laube, whomever. I just knew that I had fallen in love, and have never looked back.

                    When it gets down to it, I can barely tell you 5 out of 15 "Wines of the Year" from WS, and do not read Parker, except for his annual, or nearly, buying guide, and then for reference only. I buy and drink what I like. Am I at fault for the Turley Zin situation? I guess so, as I enjoy them. Same can be said for Biale. However, I also buy about 10 cases of other Zin producers per year, so, in doing that, I am being part of the problem, I am also supporting other producers, of various styles of Zin (the wine discussed in this thread), allowing others to enjoy their work. Am I the enemy? Am I a bad person for my tastes? I all depends. However, when you drink a Limerick Lane, Collins, Zin, know that I also helped them stay in business for that vintage. My question would be, how many cases did you buy? Why should anyone want to blame the consumers for a style of wine? It is not bad wine! One may not enjoy it, but then they should not buy it.

                    I feel the same, when confronted by the ABC (Chard, or Cab) group. They choose a "cause," and will not be detered, until that varietal (read style here too) is eradicated. Why? Usually because it is the "in" thing to do, and nothing more.

                    If one truly embraces a cause in regards to wine, then plant a vineyard, make the wine and market it yourself. Heck, you might get rich from people with the same cause as yours.

                    Me, my "cause" is to sample every great wine in the world, regardless of whether Parker, WS, or whomever, has endorsed it. Unfortunately, I will die, before I get 10% of the way through the list, and it is growing as fast as I am aging.


                    1. re: zin1953

                      "and 2) "Hey, if they want my wine, they'll pay . . . "

                      I just don't see how it can apply to todays free wine markets. The price is pretty much dictated by supply-demand, someone could ask a lot $$$ for their wine but if there are no buyers he would be left with the wine to drink himself. Turley's wines are obviously not cheap but considering how many folks are lining up to buy them I would say they are priced fairly from the point of the supply-demand equation.

                      1. re: olasek

                        olasek, I would beg to disagree.

                        First of all, take the example of a brand-new winery. No track-record. How do they decide their price? Quite frequently it's set based upon the image they want to create, and has no relationship whatsoever to cost. The owner-winemaker hangs out on a popular website, his wine gets talked up, and before long (and long before any reviews come out), there is a waiting list to get on the mailing list . . . let's charge a retail price of $120 a bottle.

                        There IS the argument to be made, I agree, that supply-and-demand will affect the marketplace. One need only look to paces like winebid to see how much people are willing to pay for the wine that someone is "flipping." But that is in the secondary market. In the primary market, supply-and-demand is not as effective.

                        Yes, if no one wanted Chateau Cache Phloe's 2010 vintage Napa Valley Cabernet for $120 a bottle¹, the owner would have lots of wine to drink for him-/herself. But the fact is that "buzz," "hype," "points" and more affect wine sales². So, too, do tie-ins, discount pricing.

                        I would suggest that hype and scores fuel Turley's demand to no small degree, and without it, more wine would be stored in the winery's own warehouse. The fact is that the demand for Turley IS softening . . . thus one can now find their wines on retail shelves; thus one can now go to a tasting room and buy their wine(s); thus people are moving from the waiting list to the mailing list; etc., etc., etc.


                        ¹ Keep in mind that the wholesale price is $80, and the FOB price is closer to $40-50.

                        ² One needs to look no farther than the Wine Spectator's Top 100 issue -- most of those wines have been sold out for months, but retailers will be swamped with demanding (and irate!) customers who will pay "anything" for that bottle. This is NOT "supply-and-demand" in the free market sense; this is "demand-fueled-by-hype."

                        1. re: zin1953

                          Though I understand and agree with your point about price point being a marketing strategy, I think the "out of nowhere" winery that is able to charge over $100/bottle or close to it out of the gate is a real exception. Usually there is at least some factor giving cachet - "star" or "up and coming" winemaker, vineyard location, prominent backers - that lends some supposed credence to the pricing (vineyard location probably being the only one that actually bears any real relation to cost of production).

                          I think a nobody who sets up shop in the Sierra Foothills and tries to charge $100/bottle will be laughed out of town (unless of course he can score a 90+ rating from Parker or Spectator!).

                          It should also be noted that, although it was before I was wise enough to buy any, Turley apparently was not always so highly priced. Spectator lists original release prices and the release prices for pre-2000 vintages are all in the $20s and $30s. Now it may very well be that was mailing list only and you'd still pay through the nose if you found it at a retailer, but then isn't that a retailer markup due to scarcity, rather than at the initial price point set by the winery, a classic example of supply and demand? And if Turley responds to that by raising their own prices, isn't that also classic supply and demand?

                          1. re: Frodnesor

                            You are missing out on the historical perspective.

                            The original release price of EVERYTHING pre-2000 was substantially less. 1970 BV Private Reserve Cabernet was released at $8.00. 1961 Château Lafite was released for $4.50 (not on futures, but the initial shelf price).

                            The fact that the "no name" winery can charge $100 for its wines does have to have some basis in reality. Your example of the Sierra Foothills is one that would be UNrealistic. There has to be some precedent,and then one can always step higher. So, for instance, there are several $100+ Cabernets produced in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. If a new winery came up with the right grape source, and the right buzz, they could easily offer their wine(s) for $100+.

                            From Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, or even Paso, with specific varieties, I believe it to be distinctly possible.

                            As far as my example above re: the prices in footnote #1, these presume "standard" markups, and *not* retailer greed.


                            1. re: zin1953

                              "The original release price of EVERYTHING pre-2000 was substantially less."

                              True, but your examples paint a somewhat unrealistic picture. I was referring to mid-90's prices. The 1995 release of Harlan Estate was $110, Dalla Valle Maya was $80, Colgin Herb Lamb was $90 ... in other words, we were already well into at least the nascent era of the Cult California Cabs. Now, as I've already said, I wasn't seriously buying wine yet then, but it sure seems like Turley said "Well, if those guys are getting $100/bottle, it sure seems like I can get more than $25 for these zins, even if it is an 'ugly stepsister' varietal." And since they are well-reviewed, sought-after, limited production wines, it's pretty easy to raise the price and also very inviting for retailers to mark it up much further. That to me is classic supply and demand.

                              I also think we basically agree on the "no-name" winery thing - you can't just do it out of nowhere, there needs to be something that supports it, i.e. grape source, buzz (which is usually a product of a "known" winemaker or management team). I think the AVA and varietal that is ripe for this kind of thing is Sonoma Coast PN. The AVA is so big, the hype on Pinot is so loud, you've got producers like Sea Smoke commanding $70 for the "Ten" - how hard would it be to buy a pumpkin patch, put some vines in the ground, press it, put it in a bottle, and Presto! - "Ocean Obscura" Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - 300 case production - $100/bottle (mailing list only!)

                              BTW, this is not remotely a knock on Sea Smoke, I very much enjoy their wines. And I should also note, having recited the foregoing, that actually doing something like that would probably be a hugely capital-intensive process. Saw an article from more than a year or so ago saying vineyard property was going for $70K/acre in "true" Sonoma Coast!

                              I also think that while the "high price as marketing strategy" might work for an initial vintage or two, if the quality of the wine isn't there, I suspect most customers are savvy enough to not buy it. There's too much good wine out there for people willing to drop $100 on a bottle to waste it on a mediocre one.

                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                Yes, Frodnesor, you and I are in agreement . . . especially about the last paragraph. If it isn't in the bottle, EVENTUALLY the consume will catch on.

                                In the meantime, however, the winery will in all probability be able to sell three vintages -- based upon "the wine needs bottle aging to mature and really show its stuff," and the like. Nails may start going in the coffin, but it won't be until enough people can post *from experience* that -- young or old -- the Emperor is naked!

                                * * * * * * * * * *

                                As for the "real" cost of wine, I would once again point people's attention to the following letter from David Caffaro: http://www.coffaro.com/forumposts/ID2... -- with the proviso that this was written in 1999, and the costs quoted in the letter have increased (though not as much as retail wine prices).


                                1. re: zin1953

                                  I had always had the impression, perhaps naive, that "boutique" wineries (other than the old guard of folks who have owned their vineyards for decades and thus got in at a low entry point) were pretty much the exclusive province of folks that had made their money (and lots of it) elsewhere and were looking for the chance to play "gentleman farmer", at least in the most exclusive of zip codes. I recognize that they're probably not losing money if they can sell their wine at $100, but the truth is there's very, very few if any unproven wines that do sell at that price.

                                  The numbers in Coffaro's letter are intriguing even if they need to be brought to date. But it just makes me wonder, if it's that easy, why isn't everyone doing it?

                                  Just by way of reference and as a tie-in to the Coffaro letter I found this helpful "conversion chart" at a website called princeofpinot.com (obviously some of these are variables as I know yields can be much lower or higher than 4 tons/acre):

                                  How much wine does one grapevine make?
                                  One vine yields 18 lbs of grapes.
                                  One vine makes six bottles of wine.
                                  One acre has 450 vines.
                                  One acre yields four tons of grapes.
                                  One acre makes 240 cases of wine.
                                  One bottle pours five glasses of wine.
                                  One barrel has 60 gallons of wine or 25 cases of

                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                    Random facts and obsevations:

                                    >>> One vine makes six bottles of wine. <<<

                                    The most famous estate in Sauternes, Chateau Yquem, has long maintained that when they produce their dry Bordeaux Blanc, Chateau Y (or Ygrec), they produce 6-7 bottles of wine per vine. When ther produce their legendaryt Sauternes, Chateau d'Yquem, it takes the total output of 6-7 vines to yield one bottle of wine. [Note: the estate itself is Chateau Yquem; the wine is Chateau d'Yquem.]

                                    >>> One acre yields four tons of grapes. <<<
                                    Clearly this is dependent upon location and vine variety. There are some famous Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards planted near the Napa River that regularly produce 6 tons/acre of outstanding grapes of exceptional quality. Try doing that west of Hwy 29, or on the slopes of Mt. Veeder, and it's a recipe for disaster.

                                    >>> One acre has 450 vines. <<<
                                    450 is really low., but clearly this too depends upon location and grape variety. Some vineyards are planted MUCH more densely -- sometimes as much as 4,000 vines per acre. See http://www.springmtn.com/wm_v_vsp.htm

                                    >>> One barrel has 60 gallons of wine or 25 cases of
                                    wine. <<<
                                    Actually all barrels, casks, ovals, etc. are measured in liters. A "standard" barrique is 225 liters, and 225 divided by 9 (liters per case) is indeed 25 cases, but that does not take into account losses for topping up, testing, spillage, etc., etc. It's a rare barrel that actually fills 300 bottles completely full.

                                    * * * * *

                                    How do you make a small fortune in the wine business?
                                    Start with a large one.

                                    * * * * *

                                    No one ever said it was easy; you still have to have talent. But it's nowhere near as expensive to produce wine as people think.

                          2. re: zin1953

                            "But the fact is that "buzz," "hype," "points" and more affect wine sales²."

                            That is it, "Hype" or "word of mouth" or "good reviews" create demand which ultimately translate into sales. I totally reject your premise that some unknown winery with "unimpressive/un-noticed" wine could charge $100 per bottle and create artificial demand only because of high price. Sorry, I will never buy this argument. You may think that the "hype" is undeserving but enough people disagree and you get sales that drive the price. The same thing aplies to dishwashers, cars, etc - buying public is too smart and sooner or later catches up with reality.

                            1. re: olasek

                              Olasek, where did I ever say "unimpressive/un-noticed"? Could you show me? I seem to have missed that.

                              In point of fact, what I said was:

                              >>> How do they decide their price? Quite frequently it's set based upon the image they want to create, and has no relationship whatsoever to cost. The owner-winemaker hangs out on a popular website, his wine gets talked up, and before long (and long before any reviews come out), there is a waiting list to get on the mailing list . . . let's charge a retail price of $120 a bottle. <<<

                              The fact is that it IS the buzz and hype that lets the the price soar so high. I've seen it happen more than once. Indeed, I've even helped it happen once or twice . . . unfortunately.

                              Let me ask you three questions, if you don't mind. What, in your mind, explains that wine prices have increased so much above the rate of inflation? What, in your mind, explains a brand-new winery selling their wine's first release -- with no reviews from Parker or the Spectator -- for $100+? And what, in your mind, explains the fact that you only had to wait 10 months for Turley to offer you wine from their mailing list, when others have had to wait two and even three years or more before being able to move from the winery's waiting list to their mailing list?

                              1. re: zin1953

                                Zin1953 - maybe I simply misunderstood your posts. I thought you were claiming that the price of wine could be set very high and the price **alone** (in abscense of good reviews, hype, willing customers, etc.) could attract crowds. That was the only thing I found objectionable but like I said I probably misunderstood your posts.

                                But talking about the "hype". I think it will only work to some extent - maybe in the beginning. Ultimately people will appreciate better what "tastes" for them better rather than what has a very good press. No amount of hype would turn Gallo into $30 wines unless it had some support in quality.

                                1. re: olasek

                                  Let's try this again:

                                  >>> I thought you were claiming that the price of wine could be set very high and the price **alone** (in abscense of good reviews, hype, willing customers, etc.) could attract crowds. That was the only thing I found objectionable but like I said I probably misunderstood your posts. <<<

                                  1) A high price alone WILL attract some people.
                                  2) I specifically DID state "long before any reviews come out."
                                  3) I specifically did include "hype" and/or "buzz" as a prerequisite.
                                  4) All customers have to "willing," or nothing will ever be bought -- be it $1.99 or $199 . . . .

                                  Olasek, I just know how I've personally marketed wines over the years -- be it at the retail level, the wholesaler/importer level, or the winery/producer level -- and I know how others do it.

                                  There is no denying that, eventually, there has to be something in the bottle, but it rarely has to be as out-f***ing-standing as the price and/or [eventual] point scores suggest it should be for most people to be happy. (Silver Oak is one example of that.)

                                  There are very rarely any black-and-white, right-or-wrong answers when it comes to wine. Yes, you can point to a wine that is filled with mercaptans and rightly say, "This sucks!" and few would disagree. But they may be one or two who might, even in the presence of what is universally regarded as a flaw. But most of wine tasting/wine appreciation/wine drinking is subjective, and what may be for you a perfect Zinfandel may not be for me, and vice-versa. Indeed, I may like the Zin you think is perfect, or I may not like it at all (and vice-versa). It's all personal palate preference.

                                  This is way, in wine as with automobiles, YMMV. ;^)


              2. If you like the full-blown, over the top, high-alcohol, jammy style of zin, they are probably the paradigm for that style. When good (and they often are) they are also capable of layers of depth and complexity that go beyond just "fruit-bomb" status.

                The "Juveniles" if it's available to you is a good starting point (for price among other things) to see if you like their style though I haven't had one since the 2003 and don't know how good the more recent vintages have been. They've now got so many different vineyards they make wines from that it's tough to keep track of them all.

                If they're available to me at not too outrageous prices I do tend to buy.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Frodnesor

                  "IMHO, they represent all that is wrong with the California wine industry"

                  A tad harsh, don't you think, Vinny? I mean, it's not as if Turley is making Sutter Home-style wines (or two-buck chuck, for that matter).

                  Yes, Turley is high alcohol. Yes, Turley is overtly fruity. Yes, it is sometimes "jammy." But Turley wines I have tried (i.e. Dusi Vineyard) have a fair amount of complexity and a range of interesting aromas and flavours. It is not as if we are talking about Yellow-Tail here.

                  1. re: anewton

                    I could probably gag down a glass or two of Yellowtail if I had to....not so with Turley.

                2. My experience has been that if you don't buy, they will take you off the mailing list and you will not receive their newsletter again. I got on their list to have access to their Hayne Vineyard Petite Sirah. After a couple of years of buying my allocation, I still had not been offered the Hayne Petite Sirah. I was passing through Templeton and went to their tasting room where I could purchase up to 6 bottles of this wine if I wanted to. I figure that there is so much wine on the market today, I could easily live without ever consuming another bottle of Turley wine again.

                  1. I have had a lot of Turley wines. They are good at what they are. But 1) I don't think they are as good as they used to be and 2) I don't think (now) they are any better than something like upper-end Rosenblum.

                    1. Olasek:

                      First of all, Turley is located in the Napa Valley. They purchased the old Pesenti Winery in Templeton and have a tasting room there, but their [main] winery is still in St. Helena, 3358 St. Helena Hwy., St. Helena, CA. Tel: (707) 963-0940.

                      Turley's tasting room -- which strikes me as silly, when they have a waiting list to get on their mailing list -- is located at 2900 Vineyard Drive, Templeton, CA. Tel: (805) 434-1030.

                      Secondly, as you can already tell from comments like Jock's . . .

                      >>> They appeal to many palates but just a many find them overblown and hot. If you like that style you will probably like them otherwise you may not. <<<

                      Bill's . . .

                      >>> They are not for everyone, in either style, or price. <<<

                      and Vinny's . . .

                      >>> IMHO, they represent all that is wrong with the California wine industry. <<<

                      . . . Turley remains somewhat contraversial. They were the first winery to *consistently and intentionally * produce their Zinfandels in that big, massive, in-your-face (overextracted, overripe, over-the-top) style. And as practically everyone else has said, you either like that style or your don't.

                      Like Bill Hunt, I love Zinfandel. (You may have already guessed that from my "nick" here, "Zin1953.") Unlike Bill Hunt, I generally *hate* Turley and its offspring. I've always thought that Turley's best vintage was their very first, 1993. but it was such a success that the winery took the approach that if 110% was good, 200% would be great, and -- IMHO -- they went "off the deep end." Sadly, for me at least, they took a lot of other Zinfandel wines with them.

                      Based upon my dislike of their Zins, I too have not had any of their whites. Nor, quite frankly, have I been interested to do so, even though I have heard from several people that their "White Coat" is good. I do not know if it is or not, nor am I really interested in finding out -- not when I can get a great Crozes-Hermitage blanc for $12. I just don't see any point.

                      While I don't necessarily agree with Vinny that Turley "represent(s) all that is wrong with the California wine industry," I certainly DO find their wine "vulgar, over-extracted, oaked to a fair-thee-well, alcohol bombs." I just admit that some people like their style; I'm just not one of them. In that sense, I suppose, I am somewhere in between Hunt and Vinny.

                      But the person I REALLY agree with is Whiner: they aren't as god as they used to be, and they are many other wines in that style that are as good or better, and cost far less.


                      1. Just my .02, but I am not a fan! I can't get past the high alcohol.

                        In the past the wines were not offered in retail (at least in GA) but recently have seen them on fine wine shelves more often.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: chickstein

                          As for availability, I've noticed the same thing - they used to be pretty much impossible to find retail, but the past couple vintages I've seen at several local retailers.

                          I'm always curious to know what people really mean when they gripe about high alcohol - I've had high alcohol wines that are almost undrinkably hot b/c the wine is out of balance and the alcohol is not integrated. I've had others that are high alcohol but have the body and structure to hold it in place. They are undeniably super-ripe but when well-made the alcohol is still held in check and doesn't give that sensation of "hotness". I just tried the 2005 Martinelli Giuseppe & Luisa Zin, which comes in at 17% (!!!) alcohol, but even this young it had no heat at all to it.

                          I'm not questioning your judgment at all, just curious what you mean by it when you say you can't get past the high alcohol.

                          1. re: Frodnesor

                            I'm not chickstein -- obviously -- and I don't mean to speak for him, only for myself.

                            1) Everyone's "sensitivity" to heat-from-alcohol will vary.

                            2) Some wines can seem "hot" at 12% alc. by vol.; some wines can be 15%+ without seeming "hot."

                            3) I have never had a table wine above 16% alcohol WITHOUT some degree of residual sugar tht did not seem hot.

                            4) I personally find just about every Turley (and Martinelli) Zinfandel either hot, or sweet. On either count, I find the wine objectionable and am unable to "get past" the high levels of each.



                            1. re: zin1953

                              FYI...Jason, Chickstein is a HER!!

                              When I say, "can't get past the alcohol", I mean the wine is so unbalanced that I can't find the true flavor of the wine because it is overwhelmed by the flavor of alcohol.

                              Bill is right, please visit the other thread to see what others have to say.

                              Good to be back y'all!

                              1. re: chickstein

                                >>> FYI...Jason, Chickstein is a HER!! <<<

                                And this is the problem with "nicks," versus those boards with "real name" policies. My apologies re: the gender confusion . . .

                                I presume the rest of your post is *not* directed at me, but at Frodnesor, as I was a rather active participant in the other thread. ;^)


                            2. re: Frodnesor

                              You might want to give a previous CH Wine Board topic a read: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/401172

                              There was much discussion on ABV in wines. I, and several others, made your point - it's about the balance.


                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                I happen to enjoy Turley's wines. I generally purchase a few bottles a year from them, but haven't felt the need to join their club. I really love the Ueberroth Zin (thinking about doing a vertical tasting for my friends), & the old vines. It really all boils down to personal taste; no one is right or wrong, it's just what appeals to you (or repulses you, I suppose).

                                1. re: LANative

                                  I'm with you on the aspect of "personal tastes." I enjoy them, but do not push them onto others. Now, I probably do buy a few more btls. per year, and have joined "the club," but enjoy the wines such, that I do not want to have to pay restaurant prices for all that I consume.

                                  One thing that you might want to consider, besides the planned vertical (do you need my address for the invite?), is a horizontal of some of the vineyards, that other producers source from. I've done similar for Monte Rossa with Rosenblum, Ridge, and a small handful of others. Often it has not been a pure horizontal, as I might do a '92 of one and '93s of the others, but that is because I did not have all of the proper wines in my cellar. To me, it's very interesting to see how different winemakers handle the same, or nearly the same, fruit.

                                  Were I to win the lottery and build a larger cellar, I'd always be on the lookout for great properties to do horizontals and not have to have broken horizontals. Same for the verticals. There are few better ways to judge a winemaker than to look back at, say 10 years of a particular property.


                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    I like your horizontal idea, Bill (and your sense of humor).

                                2. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Thanks! I just discovered a few days ago that there was a Wine board on Chowhound (I'm a little slow - must be all those high-alcohol wines).

                                  1. re: Frodnesor


                                    Welcome to the CH Wine Board. Great group of folk with one common goal - drink all the good wine that is produced, regardless of the place of origin!

                                    Hey, don't worry. I had been on the SW and New Orleans boards for sometime, before I discovered it too. Now, I do not spend any time on my other Usenet, or Internet boards.


                            3. This post is very timely. Earlier this year I purchased my small allocation (6 bottles of zin different vineyards). I just received my fall allocation last week (16 bottles) which I plan to purchase. Last night I had the 2004 petite syrah hayne's vineyard for the 3rd time. I absolutely love that wine! and additionally a fan of their zins. That's it, just my 2 cents.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Sir William

                                I, too, really enjoy their Petite Sirah . . .

                                1. re: Sir William

                                  I've not had their Petite Sirah, but have enjoyed all of their Zins, over the years. Regardless of the "hype," etc., I just like the wines - so kill me!

                                  I'll buy my allocation and hope to enjoy them all.

                                  Some years back, I was shopping at a wine shop in NOLA, and the manager saw my cart. He offered several Turleys at ~ $35/btl. I bought all that he offered, and a bunch of winos enjoyed each btl. - so kill us all !

                                  I will not debate the value vs. other Zins, but when one enjoys a wine, they buy it.


                                  1. re: Bill Hunt


                                    It seems you think I want to "kill" you -- having mentioned it twoce. Please do not misunderstand: a) I have no desire to "kill" anyone; b) as I have said all along, people have their own tastes.

                                    Turley is not MY favorite Zinfandel producer. So what? Kill me! But I certainly don't begrudge others form liking it . . .

                                2. I feel about Turley the way I do about Ridge. I can appreciate in the abstract that it requires a lot of skill, money, and hard work to make such wines, and I recognize that they're complex and interesting in a certain way, but I can't choke down more than a couple of sips.

                                  1. I'm in the same exact situation. But I think I'll take a pass. They are super fruity and alcoholic, and I am not sure how they'll age. They do well at auction, though, so it might be worth buying for investment (however, they've probably allocated you the less sought after, higher production designations).

                                    1. basically, i agree with robert lauriston and domaine 547. but in my experience, zinfandels as a group have been plagued by being big, overly fruity and extracted, and high in alcohol. I'm not saying every last one is like that, but a lot of them are, that's for sure. turley's achieve more complexity, balance and finesse than most, as do ridge's. neither would be my go-to wine for back porch sippin' or pairing with food -- i don't eat meat -- but as a novelty once in a while, they're worth sharing. i can't say that about a lot of other high-alcohol fruit bombs.

                                      24 Replies
                                      1. re: Mr. Cookie

                                        >> group have been plagued by being big, overly fruity and extracted

                                        I would never use word "plagued". I am glad that there are many wine "styles" to choose from and that not all wines follow the same scheme what 'proper' wine should be like. Even within the Zin group there are distinctions and styles. It only adds to the richness of science of wine. But personal preferences are another matter and I agree that for a vegetarian Zin may loose much of its appeal.

                                        1. re: olasek

                                          The problem is that there aren't many styles of zinfandel to choose from these days. Almost everyone is making huge high-alcohol fruit bombs.

                                          I'm always looking for exceptions and rarely find them. I bought a case of 2000 Galleron earlier this year, first zin I've bought in maybe four years.

                                          I'd love to find a light, aromatic zin like the ones Edmeades made circa 1980.

                                          1. re: olasek

                                            olasek, I think Robert has it right . . . there USED to many different styles of Zin -- I think at one point, I divided Zin into 17 different styles and my students got VERY confused! Today, there are far fewer as the "over-the-top, in-your-face, jammy" style has come to dominante.

                                            This is no different than anything else: cars all begin to look the same; fashions all begin to blend; all of a sudden, sushi bars are everywhere . . . then tapas bars . . . and so on. There are trends. One can only hope "this, too, shall pass."

                                            BTW, I don't think vegetarians have anything to do with it. It has everything to do with matching food and wine, yes, but super-ripe, highly alcoholic wines don't really go well with steak, either . . . .

                                            1. re: zin1953

                                              turley is good for all beginners.

                                              1. re: TBird

                                                OK . . . I presume you haven't read any of my posts above . . . let's just say I disagree and leave it at that.

                                                1. re: TBird

                                                  I just find them so bloody sweet upfront and their cling-on like texture leaves me wanting Muscadet to wash my palate clean. Not to my taste at all but as a retailer I can tell you that people freak out when we can offer them a few bottles.....interesting trend I have seen with our long time serious buyers, (at our shop) is that they are beginning to pass on Turley offers....curious.....maybe not aging like they thought they would.

                                                2. re: zin1953

                                                  >>but super-ripe, highly alcoholic wines don't really go well with steak, either . .

                                                  What is super-ripe alcoholic Zin? I have been drinking Zins at about 14.4% - 15% alcohol and don't find them 'alcoholic' at all and find them superb with a steak. I have been drinking recently Dashe Cellars 2003 Big River Ranch Zin (Alexander Valley) which has 14.8% and find it simply heavenly with a steak. I once tried however a 15.9% Old-Vine Zin from Norman Vineyard and did not like it at all - with or without food. There is no shortage of Zins that simply pair very well with a good steak.

                                                  1. re: olasek

                                                    The most memorable "Zins" (quotation marks because some were Zinfandel-dominated field blends) I've tasted have all been under 13.5% and, unlike nearly every Zin I encouter these days, have been about a lot more than just ripe fruit and oak. In other words, I haven't had a truly memorable Zin in years (the closest have been some Ridge Gyservilles and Lytton Springs from the early '90s drunk after 10-15 in the cellar). Zinfandel used to be one of my touchstone varieties; nowadays, I hardly bother except for wine tastings I organize and attend.

                                                    1. re: olasek

                                                      To my taste, Dashe's zins (several of which I tasted just the other day) are typical of the contemporary style: so overripe, overoaked, and alcoholic as to be undrinkable. After tasting them I want to rinse my mouth with water.

                                                      This is just a matter of taste. I used to like that style of wine so I understand why people like them.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        >> so overripe, overoaked,

                                                        there is next to zero of oak in this Zin I was talking about. Zero. I wish there was a bit more. Lets jus say either we are talking about different wines or our taste buds are substantially different.

                                                        1. re: olasek

                                                          Haven't tasted the wine under discussion but according to Dashe's website, "The wine was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels, with about 20% of the wine aged in new French oak." Admittedly not the 200% treatment but hardly zero.

                                                          1. re: carswell

                                                            >> "The wine was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels

                                                            and the relevance of this??
                                                            We are obviously talking about what comes through during tasting, not how long it was aged. Obviously most good red wines should spend some time in an oak barrel, don't you think so? And 12 months is hardly "too long" for a Zin.

                                                            1. re: olasek

                                                              Personally, I find zinfandel's main appeal is the fruit, and both oak and aging detract from that.

                                                              The last zinfandel I bought in quantity before I lost my taste for high-alcohol fruit bombs, about five years ago, was one of Rosenblum's top bottlings (Annette's? Maggie's?). I tasted it in barrel and loved it so much I ordered a case. By the time I got my case a year or so later, it had lost most of the qualities that made me want it.

                                                              Similar story for a case of Ridge Pagani Ranch I bought in the mid-90s. As it aged the fruit faded and it wasn't worth the big bucks I'd paid.

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                Kent Rosenblum makes so many Zins that he likely covers the entire spectrum discussed here, though he probably comes up a little short in the 'lower alcohol' arena. The 2005 Monte Rosso Reserve is 15.2% but is amazingly well-integrated and smooth. It may be one of those that was fuller in barrel, but I find it pretty incredible now...... and I don;t usually mind very fruity and oaked Zins if they aren't overly hot.

                                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                                  I tasted through 15-20 of Rosenblum's zins in 2003, after I'd lost my taste for that style, and found them uniformly overripe and high-alcohol.

                                                                  I found the same was true of the first tasting at JC Cellars, which was started by former Rosenblum employee Jeff Cohn. I talked with him about it and he said something like he wasn't happy with it but the available grapes were all overripe.

                                                                  1. re: Midlife

                                                                    >> .... and I don;t usually mind very fruity and oaked Zins if they aren't overly hot. <<

                                                                    Exactly my feelings. I have a wine like this with a steak and I am in heaven. Then someone gifts me a bottle of "old school" french wine and I find it flat and dull and worst of all very acidic.

                                                                    1. re: olasek

                                                                      What would you serve with an old-school French wine that would show it off better? Or do you just generally not like them?

                                                                      Old Bordeaux are not the most versatile food-friendly wines in the world though there's no better pairing than mature claret and roast beef.

                                                                2. re: olasek

                                                                  The relevance is that you referred only to oak, not the taste of oak: "there is next to zero of oak in this Zin I was talking about. Zero." Sorry if I misunderstood but you weren't being particularly clear.

                                                                  As I said, I've not tasted the wine. But Dashe's tasting note for it includes references to coffee and chocolate aromas and flavours, which I associate more with oak than with Zinfandel per se.

                                                                  "Obviously most good red wines should spend some time in the barrel, don't you think so?"
                                                                  I think the topic of barrel aging is far too complex to be summed up so simply. Are you talking about barrel aging in general or aging in new or fairly new oak casks? (Barrels come in all sizes. All kinds of woods are used to make barrels. Toast/char levels can have a huge effect on wine aged in the barrel. And after a few years of use, the barrel stops contributing much if anything in the way of aroma/flavour, though old barrels still allow slow oxygen exchange.) But if you're insinuating that I'm categorically opposed to barrel aging or the use of oak casks, you're wrong. I am opposed to the automatic use of oak. And I'm opposed to the excessive use of oak that masks the flavour of the wine; I want to taste the grapes and terroir, not vanilla and caramel.

                                                                  1. re: carswell

                                                                    >> The relevance is that you referred only to oak, not the taste of oak: "there is next to zero of oak in this Zin I was talking about. Zero." Sorry if I misunderstood but you weren't being particularly clear.<<

                                                                    Well, I thought I was clear enough - I was replying to the claim just above that this particular wine was "overoaked". I get suspicious when someone claims it is "overoaked" but I taste no oak in it (after a few bottles). And I don't confuse chocolate or coffee aromas with oak, sorry but for me they are different. So yes, consider it a case of misunderstanding. I wish people stop making comments about what the wine tastes like without ever holding the bottle.

                                                                    1. re: olasek

                                                                      Lauriston can and probably will speak for himself but I read his overoaked comment as applying to the Dashe house style and modern-day Zins in general. Sounds like you may have found an exception.

                                                                      "I don't confuse chocolate or coffee aromas with oak"

                                                                      There's no confusion about it. Oak can contribute a number of aromas/flavours to wine, including coffee and chocolate. I'm heading out for dinner and don't have time to cite chapter and verse, so a link to a wine website will have to do for now, even if it's a site that normally makes me cringe: "Oak barrels, depending on their age, oak type and toast level, contribute certain flavors to wine. For example, oak can impart clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, caramel, chocolate, coffee, vanilla and, of course, oak flavors." www.winexmagazine.com/index.php/wine/...

                                                                      Google for more references.

                                                                      In my experience, coffee and chocolate are not part of the typical aroma/flavour profile of unoaked or lightly oaked Zins. It'll be interesting to see what Jason and the others have to say about this.

                                                                      1. re: olasek

                                                                        12 months in French oak with 20% new barrels isn't "next to zero," it's a pretty fair amount.

                                                                        In a balanced wine that much oak could be right but due to the overripe grapes and resulting low acid and high alcohol levels, Dashe's wines are to my taste unbalanced.

                                                                        I'm not trying to persuade you to dislike the wine. I used to like that style, my palate just changed.

                                                            2. re: olasek

                                                              >>> What is super-ripe alcoholic Zin? <<<

                                                              1) Keep in mind, olasek, that -- once again -- there are NO right-and-wrong answers when it comes to one's personal taste.

                                                              2) You can have one wine that "seems" alcoholic -- that is, you can feel the "alcohol burn" and heat -- at (e.g.) 15.5% alcohol by volume, and another wine that's 15.5% in alcohol that doesn't; you can also have a wine that "seems" alcoholic at 13.0% and another that doesn't. It all depends upon the specific wine, its balance, structure, depth, etc.

                                                              3) Zinfandel has nearly always had more POTENTIAL alcohol than other red grape varieties, becasue of its propensity for uneven ripening and tendency to raisin. (Zinfandel is one of the few grape musts that -- once fermentation begins -- actually increases in brix, as the raisins soak out and contribute their excessively high sugar content to the must.)

                                                              4) Paragraph 3 notwithstanding, most (but by no means all) Zinfandels in the 1970s and 1980s were in the 12.5-14.0% alcohol realm. By the mid-1990s, however, 14.5-15.5%, and even 16% were seen with increasing frequency. This ever-increasing trend shows little sign of abating.

                                                              * * * * *

                                                              FWIW, Dashe Zinfandels are wines that (re: Paragraph 2 above) I personally rarely find hot; Turleys, almost always.

                                                              C'est la vie . . .


                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                Wines I find overly alcoholic aren't always "hot." Sometimes they're just flat.

                                                                It's true that everything's relative and it's all about balance, but of the wines I taste with over 14% alcohol, I find maybe 1 in 20 balanced enough to drink.

                                                          2. re: olasek

                                                            To clarify: I'm not a vegetarian. I don't eat meat, but I do eat poultry and fish. Those and a lot of other foods I enjoy would pair nicely with a lighter-style zin. I wish there were more zins in that style. They're few and far between.

                                                        2. was on turley list for while and i have to say they do make one of the best zin but don't overlook at their petite syrah...specially the hayne vyd. 97' turly hanye petite is still one of my all time favorite. most of turley zins are jammy and slutty...but very fun to drink.
                                                          not very food friendly imo and i hate the bottle size!