2019 Turley Wine Cellars, Zinfandel “Cedarman” Howell Mountain, Napa Valley.
In Turley’s awesome lineup of wines, it is hard to pick favorites, but this Cedarman consistently is one I am hugely drawn to, with its inky dark purple/garnet hue and mountain fruit core, it always impresses and it just might be Howell Mountain’s best red wine for the money. This 2019 has the classic brambly spice and black raspberry notes that are most common year after year plus a mix of dried lavender and mocha to start along with a full bodied palate that adds plum, a touch of blueberry, creme de cassis, sandalwood and minty herbs. There’s an underlying presence of muscle here, though the fruit is luxurious and supple in the mouth giving loads of pure Turley pleasure and it is a wine that rewards either patience, which obviously I didn’t have, or best with robust foods, though it did even over deliver with my simple Pizza. Without question, these 2019 Turley offerings are epic versions and are some of the most desirable California wines you’ll ever find, impressive now and with rewarding age worthy structures, which this one displays clearly. Since hitting the scene in 1993, Turley has has become one of the state’s legendary producers, focused on Zinfandel, which they took to the next level, and Petite Syrah (as Turley calls Petite Sirah or Durif) and still sets standards today. That said, I must also mention Turley’s exceptional White Coat, a lush California white made from mainly Roussanne, the super rare Grenache from the Pesenti Ranch, which has now become the Tecolote red wine with Carignan added (So rare I haven’t even seen a bottle yet!) and the lighter and vibrant Cinsault, both wines I have been thrilled with in recent years and reviewed here.

The Cedarman is a proprietary blend of grapes sourced from both Rattlesnake Ridge and Dragon Vineyards, which are located at the very top of Howell Mountain in Napa Valley and set on mainly red volcanic based soils. Although primarily Zinfandel, Turley notes that they use a small percentage of Petite Syrah from the Rattlesnake vineyard in the Cedarman as well, that gives a deeper color and provides more backbone. The result, especially in this 2019 vintage, as the winery suggests, is a truly powerful, dense and wild wine, but with exceptional balance between fruit and structural tannin, even at a hefty 15.5% natural alcohol this wine doesn’t feel hot or flabby, it delivers an impeccable performance, largely due the year’s cool season and the natural acidity found out the elevations of the vines. Turley Wine Cellars was founded in Napa Valley by former emergency room physician Larry Turley and now hand crafts about 50 different small lot wines from mostly historic old vine vineyards throughout California, with estate sites in Napa Valley, in St. Helena, as well as Paso Robles and in Amador County. Winemaker and vineyard manager Tegan Passalacqua, who is a keeper of old California traditions, is one of America’s great talents and his collection of treasures at Turley as well as his own wines under the Sandlands label are wines no one should miss. Turley’s Cedarman comes from all organic vines, is native yeast fermented and aged close to 15 months in 80% neutral oak with 80% being French and 20% being American barrels, with a small of new wood. In a perfect world, I would have bought more bottles of this exciting Zin and cellared them, I should think they would be awesome with another 5 to 10 years of age.
($35-50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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