• California's Old Vine Jewel:  Turley Wine Cellars

    California's Old Vine Jewel: Turley Wine Cellars

    At first glance, our deep collection of Turley wines may seem like an outlier in our Old World-focused collection. The reason I go deep on these prized wines from America's oldest vineyards extends far beyond their historical significance. Turley personifies the best of American wines today, never shying away from ripeness if it's to the detriment of terroir expression. While the collection of Zinfandel and Petite Syrah has a hedonistic side, they are balanced, precisely detailed, and always supported by fresh acidity. Turley is simply the gold standard.

    Today, I'm happy to offer a wide range of Turley's best, from their more recent Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon through their wide range of Zinfandels.

    Turley defines American viticulture today perhaps more completely than any estate. Working with over 50 vineyards they apply organic principles and rely only on native yeasts for fermentation. Head winemaker, Tegan Passalacqua (of Sandlands) is rightfully respected for his work in the cellar as much as for his encyclopedic knowledge of California's diversity of old vineyards throughout the state. 

    While Zinfandel and Petite Syrah inherently push towards higher ripeness, their thoughtful approach with vines from Paso Robles to Napa Valley is to preserve acidity and manage tannins. If there's a hallmark for me here it's a lacy and polished texture endowed with incredible concentration. Each cuvée is crafted free of reliance on excessive new oak, additives, or manipulation in the cellar. These are ultimate wines of terroir, epitomizing the best of California's viticulture heritage.

    When serious BBQ is at hand, Turley's reds are among the first I reach for. Their vibrant, fruit-forward, and deeply nuanced traits lend themselves perfectly for the wide range of grilled meats and marinades. A bottle of 2001 Hayne Vineyard Petite Syrah opened on Valentine's Day was a great reminder that these are wines for the record books, and the pure joy they give even after a decade in bottle is evidence of their greatness. 

    California Old Vines Zinfandel is the first place to turn for introduction to the skill and brilliance from Turley. This special cuvée is a collection of vines up to 129-yrs-old from various organically-farmed vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lodi, Contra Costa, Amador and Paso Robles. At $49 per bottle, this is the benchmark for California Zinfandel. 

    The Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is comprised on 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, a rarity in these parts. Sourced from vines planted on the eastern portion of the Turley's home and winery in northern Saint Helena. Honest, estate-farmed Napa Valley Cabernet with a palatable price tag is hard to come by. This is the first place I turn.

    Mead Ranch is planted to Zinfandel at 1,600 ft. atop Atlas Peak on red volcanic soils in Napa Valley's east side. Vines were first planted here in 1880. A great example of how sun-soaked, west-facing vineyards in the valley can still retain great brightness and acidity.

    Hayne Vineyard was planted in 1953 on gravelly loam soils on the west side of Saint Helena. Head-trained vines have always been dry-farmed. If there is one stretch of Napa Valley that may be considered Grand Cru territory, this is it. Among California Petite Syrah vineyards, there is Hayne, and then there is everyone else.

    Kirschenmann is located in Lodi's Mokelumne River AVA and owned by winemakerTegan Passalacqua. These vines were planted in 1915 on silica-rich sandy soils. The real excitement about this newer site for both Turley and Sandlands is the magic of these old vines coming from a special pocket of Lodi that sees great moderation of heat from the cool waters of the river and delta breezes. 

    "I tasted a mind-bending range of superb wines during my most recent visit to Turley. If I had to make a list of my 2017 highlights, this tasting would surely rank at or near the top. The 2016's are aromatically deep, bright, and super-expressive with regards to site...Prices remain exceedingly fair given the quality of what is in the bottle."
    - Antonio Galloni of Vinous (03/18)
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Aged Thanksgiving Treats:  Ridge Geyserville & Lytton Springs

    Aged Thanksgiving Treats: Ridge Geyserville & Lytton Springs

    I'm going to keep this one very brief today. Outside of 1854-planted Mission vines, no wine is more American than old vine Zinfandel. And no winery's work with the variety has a better track record of aging than Ridge Vineyards' Geyserville & Lytton Springs cuvées.

    Today, I'm very happy to offer a deep range of back-vintages from both revered sites. Quantities are very limited and wines are not available online.Please give me your desired order and I will do my best to accommodate.

    Current release Ridge Geyserville & Lytton Springs are staples at my Thanksgiving table each year, but I have not been lucky enough to open an aged example alongside the turkey. Though, I've already made my personal selection from below for my trip back home to Maryland for this year's festivities.

    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • The Heritage of Bedrock Wine Co.

    The Heritage of Bedrock Wine Co.

    Embracing the heritage of ancient vineyards and ensuring they continue to prosper is the most noble duty of today's California vigneron. Bedrock Wine Co. has used this concept as the foundation of their winery, farming vineyards themselves and continuing to support other growers who work with historic sites. There's no winery in the state that sees such a diverse range of revered vineyards like the guys at Bedrock. The story of place is undoubtedly where it all starts, but the quality of wines from this duo represent the very best that California old vines have to offer. 

    Morgan Twain-Peterson grew up in the vineyards working closely with his father, Joel Peterson of Ravenswood fame. The child prodigy began making his own wine, Vino Bambino, at age five and starting with the 1986 vintage it was poured at top restaurants in New York City. In 2007, after countless experiences home and abroad, Morgan founded Bedrock Wine Co. using a converted chicken coop on the outskirts of Sonoma. 

    Chris Cotrell had worked with Morgan at a small boutique wine shop in New York City's upper east side. A strong friendship grew, and after a decade selling fine wine in NYC and many harvests with Morgan he received a call from his buddy telling him it was time the two made wine together. Upon his move cross country Chris and Morgan founded Under the Wire, a superb sparkling wine project focusing on single vineyard designate bottlings.

    It's common today that old vineyards are torn up each year as producers look to re-plant with varieties like Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon that can demand the very highest prices, regardless if the terroir is ideally suited. Bedrock's commitment to these heritage sites is a huge reason why we're able to drink the most storied history that California can offer.

    Of the long list of terrific wines the duo produces, it's without a doubt that the Old Vine Zinfandel and North Coast Syrah offer the most startling value, as they're sourced from some of the states oldest vines and top sites.

    Antonio Galloni of Vinous sums up these two wines perfectly,

    "The Old Vine Zinfandel and North Coast Syrah are among the best wines readers will come across for the money."

    The wines of Bedrock are allocated each year and quantities are painfully low. I always take as much as I can. Seeing each of the wines evolve over time is one of the highlights, but being connected to vineyards planted in the 1800's is a unique and significant experience that deserves our attention regularly.

    2015 Bedrock Wine Co. Old Vine Zinfandel 
    $27 per bottle.
    The 1905-planted Sodini Ranch in Russian River Valley is the base of this blend.

    2015 Bedrock Wine Co. North Coast Syrah
    $29 per bottle.
    From Weill Vineyard, Hudson Vineyard, Griffin’s Lair, Rossi Ranch, and Alder Springs Vineyard. Fermented 50% whole cluster.

    Also available

    2016 Bedrock Wine Co. Ode to Lulu Rosé
    $25 per bottle.

    2013 Bedrock Evangelho Vineyard Heritage Wine
    $45 per bottle.
    Planted in 1890's. A field-blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, Mourvedre, and others.

    2014 Bedrock Evangelho Vineyard Heritage Wine
    $45 per bottle.
    Planted in 1890's. A field-blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, Mourvedre, and others.

    2013 Bedrock Monte Rosso Zinfandel
    $49 per bottle.
    18990-planted, 2000 ft. up on Mount Veeder. The name derives from the red, iron-rich soils.

    2015 Bedrock Wine Co. Papera Ranch Heritage Red
    $51 per bottle.
    1934-planted in the Russian River Valley. A field blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Valdigue, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trousseau Gris, Mission, and others.

    2012 Under the Wire Alder Springs Vineyard Sparkling Wine
    $76 per bottle.
    Chardonnay from Mendocino.

    2012 Under the Wire Brosseau Vineyard Sparkling Wine
    $76 per bottle.
    Chardonnay from Chalone AVA.

    Posted by Max Kogod