The third stop on our small-scale wine tour of the Paso Robles region was Turley Wine Cellars, our first west side winery. We went to Turley because of the blurb from the Paso Robles Wine Country Guide: “A wide selection of Old Vine Zinfandels ranging in price from $10-$40 per bottle.” SOLD! Paul recognized the surname, but this is Larry Turley’s winery. He’s the brother of the more-famous Helen Turley. Her winery is in Napa.
Well, when one has high expectations, one is sometimes disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed on the Zin front but on the price front. Tasting at Turley is $10 for 4 pours (the sweet, retired school-teacher server did offer me a second pour of anything I wanted…she must have seen the love and desperation in my eyeballs…or maybe the dent in my wallet). The tasting fee is not refunded when you purchase a bottle, but it does include an engraved Riedel glass…which I really didn’t want. Maybe, at one time, Turley offered bottles from $10 to $40, but this day, of the four non-reserve options available, only one was under $40 a bottle. Their reserve wines were priced from $86 to $88 (it would have been an extra $5 to taste the two reserve wines — I couldn’t put myself up to this kind of temptation — and I didn’t want to pay five more dollars).
The tasting room was gorgeous, small, all glowing wood and carefully aimed spotlights. The tasting bar is a six-inch think, thirty-foot long, solid piece of a single local black walnut tree that’s so gorgeous you want to lie naked on it. They also serve delicious rosemary flatbread and olive oils created by the winemaker from some old olive trees on his property. I didn’t ask too many questions about this in order to avoid a case of tastebud-disabling envy. At the end of the tasting room, there’s a window to the cellar area, where a tantalizing amount of Zin lay in respite in oak barrels.
The first wine we tasted was a blend from vines that were less than 25 years old, sourced from the vineyards near the tasting room. It was called “Juvenile” and the word synergy was used in the description (I was hoping Juvenile would at least be pronounced like the French, but no, it was JOO-vi-NILE). I kept an open mind. This is the first 2010 Zin I’ve tasted (I don’t have time to go into a breakdown of my opinion on recent Californian Zin vintages, nor do you care, so in short: 2007 was great, 2008 sucked, 2009 is so good so far). The reason I haven’t had a 2010 Zin yet is that most producers age them for at least a year, Zin being better with a bit of the edge taken off via aging in oak. So it was OK, a little harsh, but fine. $22/bottle, not so much. We still bought a bottle — I wanted a piece of the magic. Our server recommended we age it a little longer, maybe a year, as it still wasn’t quite ready for drinking. Sigh. No-can-dosville, baby doll. Maybe we’ll try the immersion blender aging tactic when we visit our buds Ben and Gina in Terre Haute.
The next three wines we tasted were 2009 vintages from individual Paso Robles vineyards. Oh, I loved these wines. Loved, loved, loved, loved. This is when I feel the poverty. Though, if I had the chance, would I really trade a few hours of my valuable time for a bottle of the $55 Ueberroth Zin, that of the 120 year old vines? Well, what would I be doing exactly?
So my conclusion on Turley is…I love it, but I can’t wait to visit Ridge. And by the way, Turley…we know two people who could help with your splashpage…I mean website. You need a better website! Come on! We’ll do it for a few bottles of 2009 Zin!
Turley wines are only sold at the vineyard or by mail order, so you’ll need to make a special trip to find these.