2018 Turley Wine Cellars, Zinfandel, Mead Ranch, Atlas Peak, Napa Valley.
One of my secret favorites in the Turley lineup is the lush, but seriously structured mountain Zinfandel from Turley’s Mead Ranch Vineyard on Atlas Peak, especially in vintages such as this 2018, which shows an inner energy, savory elements and gripping backbone to provide purpose and tension to this big fruited wine that delivers an amazing depth of dark fruit and spice. The full bodied palate opens nicely to reveal crushed black raspberry, dense plum, currant and sweet kirsch, along with hints of peony, sage, stony mineral tones, sandalwood and mocha notes. Turley loves this terroir and explains that the Mead Ranch, which is planted at about 1600 feet on Atlas Peak, on the south eastern side of Napa Valley was originally planted as far back as the 1880s, though Turley’s block is primarily from the 1970s. This vineyard, Turley adds, is classically head-trained and planted on distinct red volcanic soils and notes that this vineyard sees plenty of fog from the bay, all of which helps makes wines that are aromatic, complex, textured and with great acidity, as this inviting purple/garnet 2018 version shows to perfection. This maybe the last Mead Ranch Zin, as cryptically suggested in Turley’s notes, which would be a real shame for such an impactful example of Napa Zinfandel.

As noted here and by the winery itself, the legendary Turley Wine Cellars, founded by Larry Turley was established in 1993 and is one of California’s great family run wineries, producing an awesome collection of wines that represent the state’s historic grapes and vineyards in all their glory. In modern times these vineyard sites and wines are overseen by winemaker Tegan Passalacqua, who has become one of the state’s most respected figures and a keeper of the state’s history and he and Turley craft close to 50 different wines from over 50 vineyards across California, of course mainly focused on Zinfandel and Petite Syrah, with many vines dating back to the late 1800s. The farming is done organically and great care is applied to preserve these old vine vineyards and of these classic varieties, that Turley believes makes California unique in the wine world. These rich and authentic offerings are made to be expressive and hedonistic, but are made with a gentle hand using 100% natural yeast fermentation and employing just 20% new wood for aging, these barrels are 80% French and 20% American oak, with this Atlas Peak Zin seeing about 15 months of elevage. Coming in at just over 15% natural alcohol, the Mead Ranch Zinfandel has a similar personality and presence in the glass to a Chateauneuf du Pape and best enjoyed with a robust and hearty meal, this is an outstanding wine, I wish I had bought more!
($40 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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