2009 Turley Cellars Howell Mountain Zinfandel Cedarman. . . Zin critics beware!
$29, 16.2% alc./vol.! www.turleywinecellars.com: If the wine world has rock stars, Helen Turley is certainly the Paul McCartney of wine. She has worked as a winemaker/consultant with all kinds of producers and has been in the game for years and years. To that effect, any bottle that she had a hand in making will probably cost you around the same amount as a ticket to a Paul McCartney concert, somewhere north of $100. If you noticed, the wine being reviewed here was nowhere near that expensive, but then again Helen Turley has not actually been the winemaker at Turley Wine Cellars since 1995. I did, however, sit on a waiting list for about 18 months before I was offered an allocation of Turley wines. This was the only bottle I purchased in the first go-round and it is the cheapest bottle they offer. I thought I would give them a test run before really investing in what has been called the best Zinfandel made.
It is obvious from the color and the nose of this wine (as well as the date on the bottle) that it is very young, but the nose is so massive and floral and toasty and elegant I might have paid money just to smell it. I get cinnamon and dark berries (blackberries and blueberries predominate) as well as an unmistakable cream layer that I have trouble rationalizing I can actually smell. A slight oakiness also comes through. On the palate this wine has a hammock full of fruit and the best way I can describe the overall effect is to describe it as drinking a berry pie. There are blackberries, blueberries, and cherries as well as a slight sweet and toasty note (the crust ). The best part is the balance. You would never know that this wine is over 16% alcohol until just at the end of the finish because the pure fruit, the fine tannins, and the acidity all work to keep everything in perspective and under control. Despite my ravings, there aren’t a ton of what you would call secondary aromas or flavors in this wine right now. These tend to be described in less fruity and more complex terminology like leather, cigar box, tar, etc. I have no doubts whatsoever that this wine will develop wonderfully into an entire bouquet of subtle complexities, but you better give it 5-10 years. Most exciting Zinfandel I have had in some time (my wife gushed about this wine for hours afterward!) 93+ pts.