2020 Turley Wine Cellars, Zinfandel, Sadie Upton Vineyard, Amador County, Sierra Foothills.
Turley’s winemaker and vineyard manager Tegan Passalacqua made some tough decisions and only made small amounts of wine in 2020 that shows absolutely no traces of smoke taint, incredibly honest and moral in this world, and we are rewarded with a fine set of small batch offerings in what was a devastating vintage with the raging wild fires, with Turley’s Sadie Upton Zinfandel being a prime example. The mouth feel and ripe fruit are exceptional here, this 2020 shows off a dark intense purple color in the glass that is enhanced by beautiful floral aromas and crushed black raspberries that echo on the lush full bodied palate that adds sweet plum, bramble berry, blueberry and currant fruits along with baking spices, mocha, lavender and a touch of toasty wood. There’s opulent and smooth tannins that melt away in the mouth, but a lift from natural acidity really makes everything fit together and lingering briar savory notes help keep things from being heavy, even with a heady 15.3% alcohol this wine shows a graceful balance and is lovely with food. Impressive, this Sade Upton Vineyard is a sleeper in Turley’s star studded collection, it is firmly in my favorites (Zinfandel) column along with Ridge’s Lytton Springs, Bedrock’s Evangelho, Biale’s Black Chicken, Sky’s Mount Veeder and Bucklin’s Ancient Old Hill Ranch! I was truly in love with the 2018s by Turley, but I am digging all the wines from 2019 and 2020, which are like an American Chateauneuf du Pape in presence, impact and style, almost as much, with this one and the Durate being very pleasant surprises.

These old vine sites have amazing histories and legends, with Turley noting that, In 1922, smack-dab in the middle of Prohibition and while her husband was away working for the railroad, a then 21-year-old Sadie Upton decided she was going to plant herself a vineyard. This resulted in a mainly Zinfandel vineyard, named after her, near her original home at close to 1500 feet up near the town of Plymouth, that was still an area where gold nuggets were commonly found and had the foothills complex soils and cool nights that allow Zin to thrive here. Now after a hundred years, the vines are, as Turley says, still kicking in the gumption-riddled tradition of their creator Sadie and make for a positively delicious, full throttle, dense, dark and spicy wine. Turley uses, as mentioned here in prior reviews, a native yeast fermentation and a employs a cool maceration period to develop a deeply saturated hue and an extraction of complex of flavors and tannin. After fermentation the wines are aged 15 months in 80% used barrels with just 20% new. As per normal with these Turley Zins, they are a combination of American and French oak, with Passalacqua favoring the French oak, which makes up 80% of the total lots, of which I think allows for wonderful transparency as well as giving these wines a sense of pure California luxuriousness. I gotta say, I didn’t have high hopes for any 2020s, but Turley’s dedication to quality, rigorous selection and the fact that lots of Zins were picked before the smoke had a chance to set into the skins, has won me over! I hear 2021 is going to be next level stuff, for these Turley Zins, with some of the best features I loved in the 2018s, and I am looking for to seeing how they are when released as well as when they have time in bottle to mature fully, as mentioned before, Turley Zin and Petite Sirah are sold and rewarding agers too.
($45-60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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